22 was a rough year for me. I had left a toxic relationship just shy of 4 years, that took a lot of my confidence along with it. On top of that, many of my childhood friends had moved away to college or their new careers. I felt nothing short of lost.
One day, I received a text from a family member who knew I was feeling blue. It was a link to the Missoulian; our local newspaper. I clicked on it to see a cluster of black Labrador puppies and my heart melted to the floor like over-nuked butter.
You know the emoji with the flat line as the mouth and the squinty eyes? That was me.
"WHYYYY did they have to send me that in such a fragile time?!"
Next thing I knew, I was headed south of town to visit these pups.
I remember trying to convince myself; it was JUST to look. Heck, what could a little puppy love hurt in a rough patch of time such as this?
I pulled up to a cozy family home. The swing set and soccer ball left in the yard made me smile.
I was surprised by a quirky little boy who answered the door before I had the chance to knock. "I saw you come up the driveway." He was about 6 or so. With one tiny pup in his arms. He was quick to hand her over to me (honestly he kind of shoved her in my face)
"Here, hold this!"
I was in heaven.
He shuffled away and grunted as he drug 10 more squirmy little 5 week old pups in a laundry basket. to my feet. "Well, which one do you like?!" I couldn't help but laugh. He was a little salesman. This was not the first time someone had visited.
I asked him if his parents were home; to which he rolled his eyes. "MMMMOMMMMM!!!" It wasn't long before she joined us. She apologized, as she was getting a snack ready for her daughters soccer practice.
I spent two hours in their home, just connecting with people; something that I hadn't done much of lately. She asked me various questions about my home, where would I keep this puppy? Would he or she have space to run? Would I have time? Could I afford the vet bills? I admired that she was looking out for these little ones, But with each question, more guilt settled in.
I had to come clean.
I admitted that I wasn't really in a place to have a dog. That I was a college student, and that I lived in a basement apartment. I worked full time. and I was nearly broke. I also told her about the recent rocky road I had endured.
All along, A puny little male pup had been resting on my boots. He wasn't the cutest one. Or the one I had my eye on. But the sweet woman giggled "It looks like that one chose you." I told her if I had my pick I would take the one that I had in my arms. He looked like he was straight out of a bird hunting catalog.
I had certainly overstayed my welcome, and eventually I headed home.
(My mom later told me on the phone that she was proud of me for not making an irrational and irresponsible decision to take on a puppy.)
Two weeks later, I received a phone call from the woman. She asked if I would like to come see the puppies one more time before they went to their new homes. I hesitated but she insisted. Just one last time. Okay, fine.
I pulled up to the house and the family was on the porch to greet me. As I neared the front door I saw the puny little pup "the one that chose me." He had a red bow around his collar. She handed him to me and said "We promised ourselves we weren't going to place these pups with college students or people who worked full time. But we talked about it after you spent the day with us and we want you to have him. It seems that you need him. and he chose you"
I was terrified. I scooped him up and put him in the front seat of my beater car. No crate. No food. Nothing but a heart full of love and a Labrador.
Scout, Sage, Blue, Whisky were all in the running for names but nothing seemed to fit.
I googled names for black animals and at one point had scrolled by the name "Nyx"; who apparently is the goddess of the night. After spending time discussing it with friends, we had somehow come to "black Onyx" which is a stone associated with many healing properties.
"As the wise Japanese proverb says, fear is only as deep as the mind allows, which makes the Onyx crystal a strong and sturdy companion on your spiritual journey. A powerful warrior stone, the Onyx crystal meaning helps stomp out negative thought patterns stemming from the most debilitating and toxic emotion of them all – fear. Include Onyx in your gem collection and always know that whatever happens, this powerful root chakra stone always has your back."
Reading this even now, makes the hair on my neck stand up. It was the perfect name.
(Admittedly, everyone that meets him thinks he is named after the Pokemon character or OnX (a hunting map company)
This dog has changed everything. He has given me so much motivation to explore, to adventure, to try new things, to have a positive attitude, patience, persistence in training (or anything, really!) He has exceeded every expectation. He is the best friend I could ask for.
All of my friends and family thought I was out of my mind, getting a dog when I did. But truly, It was when I needed him the most. I would not have had it any other way. I cannot imagine my life without him. And when the day comes that he has no more adventure left in him, I will look at these photos and let him live on in my memory forever,
I let his story serve as a reminder to me that sometimes life gives us what we don't feel we can handle; and surprises us with a grand journey.