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Michiana Chronicles writers bring portraits of our life and times to the 88.1 WVPE airwaves every Friday at 7:45 am during Morning Edition and over the noon hour at 12:30 pm during Here and Now. Michiana Chronicles was first broadcast in October 2001. Contact the writers through their individual e-mails and thanks for listening!

Just Looking

Heather Curlee-Novak

Sometimes a person wants a big change.  Life can get too easy or predictable.  I’ve been married for 11 years to my handsome husband. We have two kids, one dog, two guinea pigs and a fifteen cent goldfish that could survive a nuclear bomb. I love my life but wanted something new.  I wanted something younger and more exciting and so I did what anyone in my situation would do: I went online.  Pictures say a thousand words and I spent several weeks swiping left or swiping right looking for that special someone.  Before you judge me, you should know my husband was into it.
It was mostly my idea but obviously he had to like them also; the look, age, build and weight of them.  Chemistry for both of us mattered…and so I’d send pictures to him, we’d talk and we’d set up a meeting.

We weren’t in a hurry but I wanted to find the right one before May 11th.  On that date Steve would turn twelve years old.  Steve is our Shepherd, Husky Mastiff mix dog. I wanted to find that special someone for Steve’s birthday…someone new to add excitement into our daily lives and serve as a back up for him as he ages.  Steve was my dog Darby’s “Birthday Present” when she was aging. I’d heard getting a puppy for your senior dog could be a good thing.  The puppy offers energetic companionship for the old dog, and also learns a trick or two.  I don’t know if Darby appreciated the puppy, but she went along with it. I like this model of pet acquisition better than losing a beloved pet, having a gaping hole in your world and then just replacing them with a new model.  Having the two pets together feels easier, sweeter.

So as I said, we looked online.  We’d admire pictures on Petfinder and if there was enough chemistry we would meet.  Adding to your family is always a weighted decision.   I knew any young dog would need a lot more of everything. At first I fell for Freya.  She was a really different dog, a 4-month-old Saluki mix I’d never heard of.  I loved her story and applied for her.  We met her at a Rescue Event the next day and found out the rescue wanted $350, three personal references, a vet reference, a home visit and a meet and greet with our current dog.  WHAT?  

I bought Darby from a Chicago pet store for $75.  Steve was a ‘free to a good home’ fellow from down the street.  I have a friend who fosters for a rescue and I thought that was the route we wanted to follow. We jumped some hoops but the process was too stressful and it felt like they didn’t actually want to adopt out the dog. Sadly we moved on.

Lulu was cute.  She was a Australian Shepherd at the Humane Society and was so endearing and desperate to be loved. We met her and put in an application. As the staffer told me our application wasn’t the winner, she shared that her family met eight dogs before they got one.  WHAT?  NOPE.  

The tension of searching for a dog that felt right, meeting them, considering their impact on our family and then asking to be approved to adopt was awful.  I seriously doubted that “Rescuing” was the right route.  We began to hear stories where fosters really did want to just keep the dog.  Most of the dogs weren’t right for us. After weeks of tears and frustration I wanted to give up.

Finally my friend Meg sent me a Petfinder  link for a cute one-year-old collie mix named Cassie.  I showed her to John, he liked her so we clicked the button requesting more information. Cassie was fostered through Rover Rescue in Illinois. While two hours from our home, we’d found a rescue that actually placed dogs in homes!  If we met her, and everything went well we would bring her home.  That is exactly what happened!  

Cassie is a lively, super sweet girl and we love her.  She is the perfect dog for us.  She and Steve rollick and rumpus in marvelous play. Life is surely more interesting now! Earlier today Cassie demolished an almost empty bag of bread left on the counter and she happily brought us an unscathed chapstick as we sat on the couch. She’s perfect. Happy Birthday, Steve?

Heather Novak's professional history includes sales and customer service training and troubleshooting for businesses, but she loves motivational speaking best. Heather leads church events for youth, singles and women, has spoken for Chicago Apartment Association and many organizations throughout Indiana. Nowadays Heather is just another stay at home wild mama trying to loose some weight, keep some sanity and enjoy her life. She is being raised by two little girls named Portia and Libby and is indulged by a guy named John who was gracious enough to marry her. Heather blogs about F Words: Feisty Faith, Fumbling Family, Fairly Healthy Food, Failed Fashion and Fabulous Friendships. You can find her at
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