2013 was a tough year for the Goren family. We had lost my beloved father to brain cancer after six grueling months of slowly watching this wonderful father and grandfather slip away. His passing left a hole in our hearts and our healing would be slow.
2013 was also a tough year for a stray dog who was dumped in Half Moon Bay without a collar, microchip, or any signs of his owner. The unkempt black-and white mutt was taken to the Peninsula Humane Society in Burlingame, where it was found that his right eye was so severely infected and swollen it no longer served any purpose but pain, and had to be removed. In addition, the little guy was sick with a stomach bug he had picked up from drinking gutter water.
Our lives aligned the day my family decided that in order to continue our healing, we needed love and needed to give love. We went to the SPCA where we sighted the one-eyed dog and were intrigued. Could we get to know him better? In the greeting room, he was scampering round, giving kisses, and rolling over for belly scratches, ecstatic over the affection and attention our boys were heaping on him. As I watched and fell in love, I realized it was no accident that we had found each other. We both needed healing.
We kept his shelter name, Thomas, and made it official by engraving it on a shiny, new bone-shaped doggie tag. To say this former stray helped our family emerge from a dark time would be an understatement. Our boys, 12-year old Jonathan and 9-year-old Zach, love Thomas so much that we have a written schedule for who gets to sleep with him each night. After a long day at work, he welcomes my husband at the door, and I see the stress melt away as David bends down to return the enthusiastic canine greeting. When my mother visits, she cuddles her furry grandpuppy in her arms and serenades him with Yiddish lullabies, while the other doggie grandparents are always volunteering as “Thomas-sitters.” Our boy has also become the unofficial class mascot for Jonathan’s 7th grade class.
When I can steal Thomas from other family members, I take him with me everywhere. At night, Thomas nestles next to one of us in bed and we listen to him snore. We feel comforted by the sound, even if others might be bothered by the wheezing, snorts, and snuffles. Instead, we hear something else: contentment, love, and healing.