And the Riccio house shall now be known as PlayDay Headquarters!!
Day has a new little brother named Play and together they are quickly finding their way to becoming quite the duo of beauty... inside and out!
|Photo thanks to Stacie, Foster Mom of both our boys.|
All through the winter Enz and I had found ourselves drawn to the pictures of Play being intermittently posted on the Northern Lights Greyhound Adoption website, as well as on their Facebook page; something about that sweet little face with eyes that spoke so deeply had just instantly taken us both in. Of course, our looooong winter had just barely begun, so driving the six hours down to the Twin Cities was just not in the cards right then. We had driven through a freezing-rain/heavy-snow, major storm on our way home after adopting Day and had sworn to never chance that narrow, winding highway between Thunder Bay and Duluth during the winter months again... Don't get me wrong, the drive is stunning as it winds around the outer edges of Lake Superior the whole way but the winds are high and the iciness that blows off of the roughly cresting waves causing ice mist to cover the roads can be a terrifying experience to maneuver! We knew that not being able to make the trip would mean that the boy we had already become enamored with would likely be adopted before we even had opportunity to meet him.
Still, we kept checking the web pages, and we kept silently hoping
It was pretty quickly that I realized Play had been placed to foster in the very same home that Day had been placed and I knew he was being incredibly loved and cared for. I couldn't get to him yet but I was at complete ease just in knowing where he was. I've been fortunate enough to have been able to keep in contact with Fantastical-Foster-Mom Stacie and over the winter I was given little updates on their newest foster boy, Play, along with news, both happy and sad, of their own beautiful hounds. We knew we were ready to adopt again but had to wait until the roads cleared which was still months ahead at that point. You have no idea how much we wanted to be able to say 'PLEASE... just keep him safe and happy until we can get there...' but we didn't do that. We couldn't have held him back if he had a chance at his perfect forever home before we had the chance to offer our hearts and home to him. Both heart-lifting and heart-wracking, it was.
In early January, I had mentioned to Enz that maybe we should make our way down to Minneapolis and he 'nicely' assured me that I was ridiculous to even think of attempting that drive in January. He also reassured me it would be only a few more months before we could do just that.
Then came late January and along with it some pretty rough times, physically, for me. I spent awhile in the hospital and the following weeks and months were focused on re-teaching my legs to walk and building my strength back up. But it was during this time when I started emailing back and forth with Stacie, specifically about Play and the fact that he was still waiting for his family; I also finally admitted just how taken we were with the sweet lil' dude!
Then, when Spring had finally started to appear in the Twin Cities, Stacie emailed and asked if our weather was finally looking like we might be able to make the trip. We were still a little snow and ice-locked but it finally did look like winter was about to call it quits which kept our adoption hopes high. Unfortunately, I knew and admitted to the fact that my legs just were not quite strong enough to handle a two day car trip away from home. I had to admit defeat for another little while.
Or, so I thought...
The next email I received was not only exactly what we were needing but an offer so generous I was beside myself in believing it was even real, or that it could even happen. Stacie and her husband, David, were willing to meet us halfway with Play (or another hound awaiting a family if Play had already found his) which would mean just one travel day for my still recovering body and even more importantly than that, it meant just one long day in the car for Day and just a few short hours in the car for the boys on their first ride home together. Trust me, that was an opportunity we were not about to let slip. We had been talking with Day all winter about the brother or sister he would soon have and all the fun that would be in store for all of us as a family... and it was finally on the verge of becoming real. We still had or hearts set on Play but we still couldn't let ourselves be selfish enough to hold him back from opportunity if it came in the form of a loving family before we could.
In the few weeks that followed, I focused on my healing so I could handle making that day trip without worry or setback. We had already been 'officially approved' by NLGA to adopt another Greyhound so I knew it wouldn't be much longer before we did. I wanted to make that trip and the wishing and hoping was getting pretty torturous... it felt like waiting for the call that we had finally been approved to adopt our sunshiny Day! And then came an email I had not been expecting; we had been given the 'official OK' from NLGA to adopt... wait for it..... Play!!!!!
I can't tell you how excited we were upon this news of perfection. And now that we knew sweet Play would soon be with us forever, we just couldn't get enough. Letters and pictures of his months spent with his Minneapolis family came to us, sharing his days from the very first ones filled with unsure shyness right on up to the playful, curious boy he has allowed himself to open into. We now knew, that in just three weeks our sweet Play would finally be with us and those three weeks just couldn't pass quickly enough.
The day, at last, had arrived...
The morning was quiet and overcast as we set out toward Two Harbors, Minnesota, which is situated halfway between the Twin Cities and Thunder Bay; about a three hour drive for each family. Our drive there, for the most part, was quiet. Our nerves worked overtime in wondering whether the boys would like each other and get along well. We also had wonderings of how Day's reuniting with his foster family would go. We were so excited for him to be able to see them again and knew he would be so excited and happy and huggy but in the back of both of our minds we had an inkling of worry that neither Enz or I had even admitted to each other until we had crossed the border back into Canada... would he be so happy and have missed them so much that he would say 'Later, Dudes... my posse's back!' and make a move to follow into their car? So many conflicting emotions but the only emotion that really mattered was one that told us we were exactly where we needed to be right then. We were on our way to our new wholeness of family.
We arrived at the park a few minutes early and wandered around for a few minutes to let Day check out the new area. It was much chillier than we had expected so he was happy to quickly get back in the car for another little warm rest while we waited. It was only a minute or two later when Stacie, Dave and the hounds arrived.
Day was just beside himself with excitement when he saw his foster parents. His tail was in full crazy-wag and his little body just wiggled in for big hugs and snuggles as they reunited. Beautiful beyond beautiful, it was!!
And then they brought Play out of their car to come and meet us.
Play came out of the car and (taking only a second for a quick touch of noses with Day) walked straight over to me and then to Enz for long hugs and just immediately leaned in for the love he already seemed to know we had for him. I felt tears threatening as I looked into his big brown, trusting eyes but somehow managed to hold myself together. The boys then 'checked each other out' but not overly so as I had expected, they really did seem comfortable in one another right from their first little nose-touch.
It was a few minutes later when Max and Annie (Stacie and Dave's own two hounds) had come out of the car to join us. After Day and Max had reacquainted, and Annie had a chance to feel out her comfort zone with the three of us being new to her, we all set out for a little path walk along the shoreline. For most of our walk Annie and Max walked side-by-side and to our surprise, Day and Play did the same and were even slicked shoulder-to-shoulder at times. It was as though they already understood that they were to stay together and it both flared and calmed my heart at once.
We had some adoption paperwork to fill in once back at our vehicles. I made mistakes because I wasn't focussing as well as I should have been; my eyes only wanted to set on my sweet boys standing in patient wait. When I did take a second to peek over I was relieved to spy exactly what I had been hoping for; there was Enz holding both leashes as the three of them quietly stood nestled together. Enz, Play tucked in the middle and Day in the front... a line of leaning togetherness as play turned to rest his head over Day's back. Big changes were still ahead but this was the sign that said, without doubt, we would all make it through perfectly!
When the time came to head home, just as was the case with Day, my heart lifted as much as it sank. Our family hello meant their family goodbye and actually seeing it happen was hard. Even though I knew and could feel how honestly happy Stacie and Dave were for all of us, I still felt the goodbye-pulls for the boy they had spent the past months nurturing out of his protective and worried shell. Play had openly and willingly come to us on his own that day only because they had spent months teaching him that it was okay to trust and that he would always be safe and loved. And now they were letting him go.
It was time to get the boys set with their (skin-protection-we-don't-really-know-each-other-yet) muzzles and comfortably settled in the car for the three hour drive home. Both boys were exhausted! Before we had even turned onto the highway Play was curled up, Day was stretched out and both were sound asleep, eyes shut tight, tight, tight! Day switched positions a few times and Play stretched out once but other than that, they slept solidly until we had to stop at a light in Grand Marais... where they lifted their heads, took a quick peek around and promptly returned to slumbering the instant we were again in motion. It was a quiet ride home but sometimes, the loudest meanings are born in quiet.
Our sweet Play is a happy, playful and huggy, huggy boy. He loves to be held and talked to. He's curious and trots over to each new fascinating find with a skip in his step and excitement in his eyes. And then there are the toys... Play LOVES toys and especially so, the ones with squeakers, the louder the squeaker, the better!! He's funny to watch with the toys, too. He has a sorting system; go to the toy baskets, choose one of the hundreds, play with it for a second or two and decide which stash-pile it should go in... the kennel stash, the living room pillow stash or the bedroom bed stash... go drop it off and repeat. We now have perfectly sorted stash piles and thankfully Day has been very patient in allowing Play the freedom to sort out not only the toys but his new life in the family of four we have become.
My heart is gratefully full.