By Laura Bruck
When it’s meant to be, adopting an animal is like falling in love—sometimes at first sight.
Richmond Heights residents Chip and Donna know that feeling well, as do all the rescued animals with whom they've shared their lives. And now, a lucky 10-year lab-mix named Reilly does too.
Called Homer by his rescuers, this sweet old boy wandered the streets until he collapsed and, miraculously, found himself in a PAWS foster home. Homer had no clue that, as he was recovering, I was searching for the words to help readers look past his senior status and health issues to see what volunteers described as one of the gentlest dogs they’d ever known. He also had no idea that Chip and Donna had decided to add an older lab or lab-mix to their family—as long as the couple’s golden lab-mix Heidi, whom they’d rescued as a puppy, could retain her princess status while sharing her parents’ love. And then, the Sun News landed on Chip and Donna’s doorstep.
“The minute I saw that face I knew Homer was meant to be ours,” said Donna who, along with Chip, waited anxiously by the phone after submitting an adoption application. Days later, Chip, Donna and their precious Heidi went to meet Homer. And the rest, as they say, is history.
“We’ve always had a special place in our hearts for older animals, and are quite accustomed to giving medications,” said Chip, adding that Homer’s bald patches from a previous flea infestation don’t phase them at all. “In our eyes he’s beautiful just the way he is,” Chip said.
With a new home, a new name and a fresh start in life, Reilly had been home for only days when I went to visit but he greeted me with his tail wagging as if he’d been there forever. “Reilly was simply ready to be home, and he’s everything we wanted and more,” said Donna, who still struggles with thoughts of her sweet boy wandering the streets.
As I sat in Chip and Donna’s home, surrounded by photos and paintings of their beloved animals, I wished I could somehow clone these people who had given such precious gifts to Reilly, Heidi and so many others. And as Princess Heidi napped happily on the couch, I saw in Reilly’s eyes what I saw in hers; namely, the kind of peace and contentment that come only from knowing you’re truly home. “What a fitting name,” I thought, “for a dog who really is living the life of Reilly.”