I fell in love at the animal shelter. For a very long time, I have wanted to adopt a dog from our local animal shelter, and it finally happened.

Her name is Penny. She’s a Belgian Malinois puppy — basically just a less fluffy German Shepherd.

I brought her home a few weeks ago when the Valencia County Animal Shelter had it’s Clear the Shelter event.

Anna Padilla mug

Anna Padilla

News-Bulletin Staff Writer

I had visited the shelter the day before in the hopes of bringing home two sisters I had seen on the Volunteers of the Valencia County Animal Shelter’s Facebook page, but when I got there, I found out they had been adopted.

My dad and I went back the next day for the adoption event. I was showing him some of the dogs I had seen when we came to the last kennel space in the room we were in. The kennel held a Shepherd puppy.

She wasn’t howling or whimpering like all of the dogs around her were. Her ears were pinned back as if she was scared, but she was pressing herself against the fence door when I passed by her. I cautiously bent down to pet her and she didn’t back away. All she wanted was some human connection.

I held my hand out so she could sniff it and she put her chin in my hand so I would hold her. That was all it took; I was a goner after that.

We took her outside, inside a fenced-off area so we could take her off leash and see how she would react to us.

I sat down on the ground and she came bolting over to sit on my lap. Actually, she was lying on her back and I was holding her like a baby. We must’ve stayed there for 15 minutes and she didn’t move from my lap.

I brought her home and introduced her to the family. She was a little cautious but happy to be in a quieter place.

She was limping on her left hind leg, but it didn’t seem to hinder her from moving around in any way.

The vet told us she might’ve been hit by a car before she was brought to the shelter. The fracture in her hind leg had already begun healing, but the trauma probably caused her growth to stop in that leg, so the limp will be something she’ll have to deal with for the rest of her life.

Fast forward to a week later: There is no tennis ball that she won’t chase or try to catch in the air. She’s running, jumping and pouncing like every other 4-month-old puppy would be.

Her arch nemesis is the watermelon sitting below our counter. Every time she crosses paths with it she has to bark at it. She sometimes catches her own reflection in the glass and alerts the family to this new potential threat.

If she is told “no” too many times in one time period, she’ll run around the house and yard to let us know she’s upset.

She’s an energetic breed, so I make it a priority to play with her as much as I can to tire her out at night. If I’m being honest, she’s the one keeping me active.

Potty-training has been a test of all of our patience, but positive reinforcement truly works best.

When I lie down, she comes rushing over to curl up next to me and put her head on my shoulder. Suddenly, all the potty training frustration melts away and I’m reminded of how much sweeter she’s already made my life.

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