A New Baby, a Family Separated, and the Love of a Little Brown Dog

The love of an adopted dog helped their family heal

Josephine + Dottie

When Josephine’s family was separated following the birth of her son, their adopted dog’s love and compassion helped her family heal.

"I don’t know if I fully realized just how important Dottie was to me until the moment I saw her running toward my wheelchair, her whole body shaking with excitement."

The night I went into labor with my son, my 4-year-old adopted dog Dottie curled up in my lap next to my bump and wouldn’t leave my side. Dottie is a shy girl, and while she shows affection in other ways, this was the first time in all the years since I adopted her that she’d behaved this way. My husband was convinced that Dottie sensed something was coming.

Dottie the dog with family

Later that night, my water broke. We took Dottie to our neighbor’s place as planned, and headed for the hospital. After 36 hours of labor, my son Wally was born. The delivery was extremely difficult for both of us. Not even 24 hours old, my son was diagnosed with a life-threatening case of bacterial meningitis and airlifted to another island because the hospital where we live was not equipped to treat him.

Dottie with Josephine

My husband flew with our baby, but I had to stay behind until I was well enough to travel. My kidneys and liver were in distress, I needed two blood transfusions, and my blood pressure was out of control. I was in tremendous pain from a torn pelvic ligament that made it impossible for me to stand and walk. I was sicker than I’d ever been, and my seriously ill baby was in a hospital on another island, far away from me where I could not reach him. My heart was broken into a million pieces.

All I could do was cry, and look at photos of my son on my phone while I waited for my health to stabilize. Then my neighbor called, and asked if it was okay for her to bring Dottie for a visit. I don’t know if I fully realized just how important Dottie was to me until the moment I saw her running toward my wheelchair, her whole body shaking with excitement. I cannot describe the joy and relief I felt. I sobbed while she licked my tears away. She healed me in a way no hospital ever could. Being able to hold her again gave me strength and comfort and my condition started to improve.

Dottie the dog with family

A few days later I was discharged, and flew to Oahu to be reunited with my baby. We spent another month in the NICU before we were finally all reunited, happy and healthy. In our darkest hour, this little brown dog gave us strength. Today, Dottie stands tall and alert next to my infant son when he cries, forever his protector. Our family is held together by her fuzzy paws.

Each year, Petco Love invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Josephine won Maui Humane Society in Hawaii a 2018 Holiday Wishes award.