Adopted Dogs Help Pet Mom Create Her Own Version of Family

Clyde and Finn not only became Donna’s family, they also helped her find her purpose: to give and receive love.

Donna + Clyde and Finn

Donna had a fulfilling career and a wonderful life. Then two dogs named Clyde and Finn found their way into her heart, showing Donna that unconditional love can bring even the most unexpected family together.

"During the past decade, Clyde and Finn have been by my side through good and bad. There’s nothing in the world that has made me feel better than the way my dogs have. "

I’m 55 years old, single, and I don’t have children. I’ve lived a wonderful life with no regrets, but I’ve generally focused more on building my career than on starting a family. I believe in the philosophy that everything happens for a reason, and that things work out the way they’re supposed to—and for me that has meant being a doggie mom.

As accepting as I am of fate and the way the universe works, I’ve still often pondered my purpose and the meaning of my life. I know it’s different for everyone, and it’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally figured it out. For me, it’s all about giving and receiving love. And the most unconditional love that I have in my life, the love that fills my heart every single day, is the love that I share with my dogs.

I’ve heard that your dogs pick you, and not vice-versa, and that’s exactly what happened with me. Both of my dogs were rescued from Home for Good Dog Rescue, and both times I wasn’t even planning on adopting a dog! I found Clyde at an adoption event in a crate with other puppies, and while the other puppies seemed to seek the attention of anyone who came by, it seemed like Clyde only had eyes for me and I was simply unable to leave without him. About a year and a half later I saw Finn. A volunteer was walking Finn at an outdoor adoption event. I sat down on the ground next to him to pet him, he laid his head in my lap, and we remained in that spot for quite a while. It was obvious to me and everyone around me that Finn had found his forever home. 

I’m so grateful that the universe brought Clyde and Finn into my life, as they have brought me so much joy. I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without them.

During the past decade, Clyde (10) and Finn (9) have been by my side through good and bad. I’ve had difficult times, and there’s nothing in the world that made me feel better than the way my dogs did. They give me a reason to get up every morning, make me smile and laugh every day, and are the ones I kiss goodnight every evening before bed. Every summer I get a dog-friendly rental at the beach so we can have a family vacation together, and every winter the three of us sit for a family portrait to put on our holiday card. We’re a family—maybe not a traditional family, but a family nonetheless. 

So how have my dogs changed my life? They haven’t changed it, they’ve made it—by giving me a family and filling my life with meaning, purpose, and love.

Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share 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 Donna won Home for Good Dog Rescue in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey a 2021 Love Stories award.