I had wanted a dog for a very long time. I tried adopting one when I was first living on my own again in La Jolla. It lasted about a week. My cats were furious with me about the new “friend” and I had not thought through the level of commitment required to have a dog, particularly when one does not have a yard. So I took the dog back to its foster parents and promised myself someday.

Fast forward about six years. I had moved to Eureka for grad school. I still had only an apartment, but I had more time and I wanted something or someone to help me stay active in the dreary yet beautiful Pacific Northwest. So I started looking again for the right dog for me.

I had grand plans for what this dog would be like. I didn’t want a puppy as they required a little too much time than what I had. I thought a teenager the perfect age: they could sleep through the night without needing to go outside and they had already gone through the worst of the chewing phase. I also have allergies and occasional asthma, so I wanted a short-haired dog that didn’t shed a lot. And I have a love for the “bully” breeds: pit bulls, Dobermans, Rottweillers…the dogs that tend to be misunderstood. So I checked the local shelters and I waited. My boyfriend at the time had a dog and we’d look together. And I waited. One day, we found an ad for the perfect dog, Red Baron, who would be at the local Farm Store shelter event in a couple weeks.

We turned up to the event late during the final hour or two, because my boyfriend was late absolutely everywhere, and I had preferred to wait for him than to go alone. The site was arranged in a horseshoe, with vendors making up the outer ring of the circle. A large, chain-link kennel was in the middle of the circle. It was partitioned into three, with several dogs in each section. As we walked up to the circle to hunt for Matt’s sister and where to find Red Baron, I noticed the intent look of a handsome shepherd mix at the door of one kennel. Not Red Baron, but a striking dog.

We found Red Baron on the lap of a foster family member in a different part of the event. I introduced myself, but this dog had clearly bonded with his family and was in no way interested in me. “Oh well; he’s not the one.” While I wanted a dog and my life was in a good place for one, I also still rented an apartment and dogs were not permitted. I went back to the main event to look for my people. As I entered the circle, I met the focused gaze of that same shepherd mix.

Now for all I know, Jonah looked at everyone that way and I just happened to be the human that noticed him looking. Or maybe he didn’t; maybe he knew I was his person before I did. Both stories exemplify who Jonah is: a dog who absolutely loved everyone he met, including me.

I asked a little about him and if I could go in. He was about 70 pounds and a year and a half old. I entered the kennel and he immediately tried to jump on me. I told him “no” and put my hand out, trying to show him what I wanted from him. We didn’t know each other at all, but I could see he was trying to understand and do what I asked. I was impressed. He was in a new environment, stressed and tired, yet still trying to please.

As I came to know, he’d been abandoned about nine months earlier in a stolen car with the windows rolled up and left on the Eel River. A no-kill rescue had taken him in as a youngster and cared for him. They had a lot of animals, so they had not been able to give a lot of time to training or individual attention. He was clearly a smart dog and willing, he just needed someone to spend time with him. I found Kate and Matt to find out their thoughts; Kate had been at a booth near the kennel all day and had noticed him too.

The event was ending and, knowing his story and how long he had been without a person of his own, I couldn’t bear the thought of him going back to the rescue. Matt said he’d help me with him since I knew nothing about training and wasn’t supposed to have a dog in my apartment. I paid the cost of his adoption with the money in my wallet, gas and spending money my sweet mum had given me because I was a student again. We went into the store and bought the few things I needed for him that Matt didn’t have: a collar and a leash are all I remember. Then we loaded into Matt’s car and drove home with Jonah falling asleep in the back like a kid with FOMO: his eyes and body drooping into sleep, only to wake up and drift off again.

Jonah in my apartment, shortly after joining the family.