From Dog in Need to Dog of Honor

This bride and groom discovered one thing was missing from their wedding: Sophie.

Alexandra + Sophie

It was a warm June day, and our wedding was right around the corner. My fiancé and I had decided to forgo the traditional wedding favor for guests, and instead put that money toward sponsoring a few dogs at our local SPCA. As a volunteer-led us toward the kennels, a mixture of emotions washed over me. The previous November my childhood dog of 15 years, whom we’d rescued from this same organization, had passed away. I could hardly look at a dog without tearing up. I was hoping I could be strong that day.

"That night, he was glued to his phone, looking at pictures he'd taken of Sophie and gushing about how cute and sweet she was. "

Once inside, I felt myself relax. I wandered down the aisles, looking for my lucky pups. There were big dogs, small dogs, barking dogs, sleeping dogs. There were dogs eager to lick my face, and dogs too scared to even sniff my hand. After a few laps, I finally decided that I would sponsor Odolph, a 5-year-old cattle dog mix who kept rolling on his back, begging to have his belly rubbed. As I was filling out the paperwork for Odolph, my fiancé called me over to see the dog he’d chosen.

Sophie was small and timid, curled up in a ball with her ears tucked back, letting James pet her head gently. She looked like a little hyena; a tan brindle pattern covered her entire body. She was beautiful, and like no dog either of us had ever seen before. After exchanging a few kisses, we left our credit card information and prepared to spend the next several weeks awaiting the phone calls that would tell us our sponsorship of these dogs helped lead them to new homes.

When we got home that afternoon, James could not stop talking about Sophie. Though James liked dogs, he hadn’t had one growing up. That night, he was glued to his phone, looking at pictures he’d taken of Sophie and gushing about how cute and sweet she was. As we were getting into bed, James turned to me and said, “We need Sophie.” And just like that, our alarm clocks were set. James called out of work and we waited outside for an hour before Providence Animal Center opened to make sure no one would beat us to her.

Sophie is now a part of our little family. She sleeps in bed with her head on James’ pillow and snores all through the night. In our wedding, Sophie was the Dog of Honor. She escorted my sister, the Maid of Honor, down the aisle in a slate blue bandana that we’d hot-glued flowers to. She stole the show (and she only barked at one squirrel!). Sophie has filled the void in our lives that we didn’t know we had, and we are so happy that we can offer her a life of love and cuddles.

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 Alexandra and James Gentile won Providence Animal Center in Pennsylvania a 2017 Holiday Wishes award.