The Day the Dog Stood Still

Kali on her first day home.

One perfect Sunday in May 2014 Adam and I were spending a morning in typical Denver fashion: enjoying a boozy brunch. As so many days are in Denver, it was beautiful and sunny. What made this day unique was that we had absolutely nothing on the docket for the rest of the day. “We should go to the shelter and look at dogs today,” I suggested between bites of a comically oversized cinnamon roll. Normally, it takes a lot of convincing to get Adam on board with my ideas, but for whatever reason he agreed to a trip to the shelter. He would later admit that the voice in his head had a slightly different response. Something along the lines of “Well, #$*@, I guess we are getting a dog today…” Keep in mind that at this point we’d been dating for all of 6 months and had only moved into the house a few months prior.

Later that afternoon we actually did head out to visit some local shelters. Our first stop was the Foothills Animal Shelter. Nestled in the Rocky Mountain foothills Denver suburbs, this aptly named shelter was one that Adam was already familiar with through charity drives his work had done. It was a logical starting point. As we wandered through the brightly lit corridor flanked by barking dogs, my excitement was waning quickly. Part of me wanted to take every single one of them home and give them the attention and love they were so desperately craving, but the rest of me felt like none of these was my perfect dog. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but none of these was THE DOG.

Feeling mildly defeated, we left that shelter but decided to make one more stop at theĀ Denver Animal Shelter, which is actually just around the corner from the house. So there we were, back almost at our starting point and ready to scope out another group of dogs. The dogs here on this particular day had a better feel to them. One seemed really promising. He was a goofy looking 60 pound dog dubbed “Banjo” by the shelter staff. We arranged to take him out to the little private play area and see how all three of us interacted. I figured this was it. This was our dog.

Instead, Banjo charged at me a few times and then proceeded to act completely oblivious to either of us. Scratch my thoughts from a few minutes before. This was most definitely NOT our dog.

We walked through one more time. At this point, I think we were both skeptical. This day hadn’t been filled with good feelings or instant connections. There was one dog that caught both of our attentions. She was very cute, but the really noticeable thing was how she was acting. Every other dog was barking like a maniac the whole time, and this one was just sitting. She was perfectly still, a model of good behavior, just staring fixedly at us.

Back out to the private play area we went, and this time it was with “Heidi.” She was timid and reserved. She let us pet her and even wanted some belly rubs, but she was treading lightly. And then a particular person from the shelter walked past on the other side of the fence. Heidi went nuts. She was barking and lunging, attempting, to scale the fence, and running frantically from end to end of the small enclosure. We later learned that this was the person whose office she had stayed in upon her arrival to the shelter, and she had quickly formed a fierce bond. That was when I knew it. This was our dog, and this dog was going to love us the way that she currently loved that shelter employee.

Everything else happened quickly – we filled out some paperwork, paid the adoption fee, took a trip to the pet store for the basics. And that was that. We were dog owners. Neither of us liked the name Heidi. Our new dog wasn’t a little girl living in the Swiss alps after all. Later that afternoon while straightening up a pile of papers, a sticker from the recent purchase of a Kali Protectives bike helmet fluttered to the ground. And so Heidi became Kali, and the three of us became a pack.

So much of our journey towards creating our own urban paradise has included or been centered around Kali. And this was the story of the day that started it all.

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