Changing Lives One Pet at a Time
by Professor Joe Goldblatt
How does a new pet change your life for the better? Let me count the ways! During our nearly 43 years together, Nancy and I have had many pets including a Cocker Spaniel named Freckles, a Labrador named Wally, and for seventeen years a Shih Tzu named Kong Zhi Ao (meaning brave, courageous, noble) Goldblatt. Sadly, Kong passed away from old age 18 months ago. However, each time a new pet came into our lives it was truly a life changing experience as we welcomed our furry friend into our family. However, none of these pets were adopted during a global pandemic.
I have had the pleasure of promoting the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home since I first met the enthusiastic staff from their development team. The long history and strong values of this temple for animals prompted me to ask for help when I noticed that there was a new type of sadness growing closer as the dark winter months approached. The team immediately put us in touch with a member of staff named Nonnie who kindly emailed me a prospective re – homing form and I completed it almost immediately. Then we waited for the phone call or emails that would once again change our lives.
The short waiting period was similar to wanting to once again conceive human children and failing. It was as if we had sought IVF or other methods to improve our chances. In only a couple of months time, the magic doggie stork from the EDCH emailed us a photo (see below) and we immediately fell in love.
We were invited to the EDCH for a getting to know you session with CoCo and we were very impressed with how cheerful, caring, careful, cautious, observant the generous the front desk and kennel staff were during our one hour visit. CoCo was allowed to play with us and we were given treats by the kennel staff so that we could offer them to our soon to be daughter as a gesture of love and friendship. CoCo responded by crawling up into our laps and giving us lick after lick until our faces were wet with her loving kisses and our own tears.
At the end of our play session, we were told that we could return the next day to collect our wee girl. However, as fate would have it, Coco was so excited at meeting her prospective parents, that she suffered from indigestion and the very well trained and extremely sensitive kennel staff rang us to say they would like to observe her for a couple of more days. The kennel manager also invited us to visit Coco again in the interim and once again we had a delightful time playing with her and learning from the kennel staff all of the unique traits of the breeds Jack Russel Terrier and Bichon Frise, of which she was a delightful mix.
Two days later, Coco fully recovered from her tummy ache and the friendly and confident kennel manager invited us back to officially adopt our new daughter. We returned to the EDCH and you would have thought we had won the national lottery. There was excitement throughout the entire reception area. We were invited to pose for photos with our new family member. Within a few minutes, adoption papers were signed, instructions regarding pet insurance and microchipping, and doggie tags were given. If this were not enough, the smiles from the staff were so genuine and infectious that our trepidation in becoming parents at our ripe old age was soon assuaged and we drew a deep breath just as the door opened widely ushering this new chapter in our lives.
Our little girl, the first girl in our family, confidently and briskly walked into the waiting room and gave us a warm cuddle and cocked her head to the right as if to say “What are you waiting for? Let’s go home!” We could not go home without purchasing several toys at the very reasonably priced gift area and then making an additional financial donation to match the generous donations our friends and family had made on our behalf when they learned of our good news. We are so proud and pleased to support such a wonderful institution in our city and committed that day to continue fund raising on behalf of EDCH so that many other pets and future owners could experience the joy and happiness that we now felt.
Upon arriving in our home, Coco was officially named CoCo Ruth MacGoldblatt and she instantaneously climbed upon our family bed and flipped over as if suggesting she wanted us to rub her tummy. We obliged and she cooed and then jumped up to have a wee wander around her new home. She seemed to love every nook and cranny and became especially fond of the kitchen where we placed her doggie dishes and special treats. For the next several hours she never left our side.
We adopted CoCo during the time period in Scotland and the UK known as Guy Fawkes night when loud fireworks are heard nightly. This sound can be very frightening for animals and we made certain that CoCo was prepared by playing soothing music and holding her throughout the night. She loved being cuddled by us and although the fireworks were disturbing to her, she managed to cope, we believe, because she knew she was now in a very safe space with parents who loved her.
As this was my first girl dog, I soon learned that her reactions to the world were very different from our sons. CoCo is a strong and independent young woman who does not suffer fools gladly. If someone approaches our window her years are instantly raised and she is ready to defend us with her strong and passionate yelp. We are working with her to minimise this loud reaction, however, we are also so grateful that she so loves her parents so much that she is ready to protect us at any moment from attackers foreign and domestic!
Whenever we walk CoCo we are constantly stopped by others to inquire about our new daughter and we proudly tell them our personal adoption story. I am certain that they hear the enthusiasm in our voices as we tell them about the amazing team at EDCH that looks after to many animals as though each one belonged to them personally. I find the people we tell this story to also are becoming fans of EDCH as many people have asked us how they may support this precious animal sanctuary and they also inquire about adoption opportunities. We are delighted to, along with CoCo, become official ambassadors for an institution in our city that is so vitally important to so many people and animals and whose sterling reputation greatly enhances the civic life for all our citizens.
Now, as the dark winter months rapidly arrive, there is a new glow in our home that is provided by our wee furry friend. When she chases, retrieves and returns her favourite ball and receives a treat as a reward I sense a smile coming up toward me straight from her giant heart. It is as if she is saying “This was meant to be!” And thanks to the professionalism and compassion of the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home it was indeed meant to be and happened just at the right time for we older parents who are in the winter of our lives, never really imagined that one day we might have such a brilliant daughter who know brightens our every day. Indeed, it was meant to be!
Professor Joe Goldblatt is Emeritus Professor of Planned Events at Queen Margaret University and the author, co – author and editor of 39 books in the field of events management. He and his wife Nancy are proud supporters of the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home.