A Toronto lets the Universe decide the rescue pup they take home

Over the years, my wife, Gina, and I have owned and dearly loved several dogs. Sometimes our little North Toronto bungalow has been home to just one, but we’ve always believed that two is twice as good. So for a while, we had been talking about getting a companion for our four year-old Chihuahua, Enzo.

Gina told the Universe that she wanted our new addition to be her favorite dog type: a male, shepherd breed, about 35 pounds with pointy ears – oh, and ideally black in color with cobalt blue eyes, please. She’s quite specific with her wishes in life.

The Universe, however, had a different idea – in the form of an off-white, rat terrier-Jack Russell mix, with brown dappled ears and a patch of the same color around the right eye, weighing in at a few pounds shy of 20.

Also, he’s a she.

Missi came onto our radar via a friend who lives just outside Philadelphia. Mark Hershberger was fostering her after she was rescued from a kill shelter in rural Louisiana. She was just 48 hours away from being euthanized. Mark had found his own dog, Chez, through the One Love Animal Rescue Group, and when he called to ask if he could take in Missi until a permanent home could be found, he was happy to oblige.

Gina saw the photos of Missi which Mark posted on Facebook, and she instantly felt that this was the dog for us. After a thorough FaceTime interview with One Love, a virtual tour of our home (to see what Missi’s living conditions would be) and a background check with our own veterinarian, we were approved.

Mark, the wonderful soul that he is, offered to meet us halfway to Toronto, and chose the town of Elmira, New York, as the rendezvous point.

Prior to the December meeting, Gina and I discussed a name change for our new addition. Gina thought Bliss would be lovely – easy for the dog to learn, as it sounds pretty close to Missi – and it means pure joy, which is the feeling we shared about adding her to our family.

With the adoption now official, and a date and location confirmed for the handover, the Universe seemed to express further approval:

· In a Toronto store, Gina came across a promotional card for holiday chocolates, which read “Give the gift of bliss.”

Wanting to give Mark $100 for gas and tolls, Gina opened her passport, where she tucks away any leftover US currency from previous trips south of the border. Inside were exactly four bills: a 50, two 20s and a 10. Not a dollar more, not a dollar less.

On the big day, Mark called us from the Roundin’ Third pub where we had agreed to meet, reporting that the parking lot was full but there was one space left on the street right out front. It would give us a clear line of sight from our table to the car (where Enzo and Bliss would get to know each other after a walk together). It was a busy NFL Sunday at an American sports bar, and we were still 20 minutes away – but that one and only spot remained open until we pulled up.

Our server was a warm and gregarious lady. We shared the story of how we randomly chose this town and her pub as the place where we would meet to transfer a rescue dog (no name mentioned). She was touched by the tale. We asked her name. “I’m Missy,” she answered. We all got chills.

· As she left the table, Mark was shaking his head. “You guys remember the name of the rescue agency Missi came from, right?” “One Love!” we replied in unison. “Turn around,” he said. Opposite the bar, on a large blackboard was an artistic chalk drawing of just two words: “One Love,” with a red heart underneath. Missy explained that it was a tribute to a long-time patron and friend to everyone in town, and that this day marked the anniversary of his passing. Any day before or after, that blackboard would have simply listed draft beers and daily specials.

· After lunch, we said our goodbyes. I started the car and sorted through the CDs I had brought along, looking for something to start the journey home. I landed on one by a great Newfoundlander duo Gina and I love, called Fortunate Ones. Then I noticed the name of the album: “The Bliss.”

· After our first day home with Bliss, another friend on Facebook posted adorable photos of her family’s new puppy. I commented that we, too, had just brought home a new addition (no name mentioned). Her reply: “Really?! Ah, bliss!”

Bliss walked into our house, found Enzo’s toy basket, and began playing as if she had always lived here. Two months on, we couldn’t be happy with how well she fits in with Enzo and our cats, Gigi and Malcolm. We think the Universe nailed it.

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