Adopted Dog Helps Renew Love of Learning

Adopting Honey helped Annie, a career advisor living in a college town, connect with her community and feel more at home.

Annie + Honey

Honey brings Annie peace, joy, and connection. Together, they’re realizing that it’s never too late to learn.

"Through Honey, I was reminded of my love of learning, my desire to communicate effectively, and my wish to spread joy."

Humans have a need for social belonging, and dogs are a social catalyst. It is therefore no surprise that we are as intertwined in one another’s lives as dog hair in the threads of a suit jacket on the day of a job interview. In my work as a career advisor, I encourage my students to embrace their strengths and follow their intrinsic motivations. And yet, at times, I struggle to do the same for myself. Perhaps I’m an extrovert with social anxiety, or maybe I’m an introvert who dislikes being alone. In any case, after having returned to my former college town to advise undergraduate students, I was struggling to establish roots.

In my little town so over-saturated with undergraduates that the population doubles every August, I felt surprisingly alone. What I didn’t expect is that it would be a terrified dog that would help me to remember my own strengths and find my sense of belonging. When I first met Honey, she was steadfast in her resolve that she did not want to get into the car to come home with us. By the time we finally arrived, a small hurricane of hair and spit covered the seats. I spent the better part of the first week sitting in my car with the doors open and Honey eyeing me suspiciously from the far end of a 20-foot leash. I knew then that Honey needed a reminder of her strengths. I didn’t realize that I did too.

Honey liked food and loved to sniff, so we started trick training and enrolled in a nose work class. As Honey’s confidence grew through these experiences, so did my sense of belonging to the area around me. I have always loved learning, and with each nose work class, I looked forward to the opportunity to learn something new and be around people with shared interests. I was energized by opportunities to spend time around town, reinforcing my ability to communicate effectively with Honey amidst a variety of distractions. I noticed that college students, homesick for their own pets, relished the opportunity to cuddle a dog, and I was excited to share mine.

When the opportunity arose to work with a current Master’s student on her thesis project, training dogs to sniff out agricultural pests such as spotted lanternfly, I jumped at the chance. I look forward to being able to put this training into action in the future to help farmers. When COVID-19 required us to stay home, Honey and I turned to trick training and worked our way through four AKC trick titles before sharing our performer trick video on “handling coronavirus” with our friends and family to infuse some laughter into their lives. Through Honey, I was reminded of my love of learning, my desire to communicate effectively, and my wish to spread joy. She has been a catalyst to get me out and into my community. And, in doing so, she has made me feel at peace with my home.

Each year, Petco Love Holiday Wishes campaign invites adopters to share stories of how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Annie won Floyd County Humane Society Inc. in Floyd County, Virginia a 2020 Holiday Wishes award.