They handed him to me covered in poop and shaking. We were at a rest stop parking lot in Maine, picking up our new puppy. He’d had a rough ride from Arkansas. For two days he lived in a crate with his brother, traveling further and further away from the kill shelter where he’d been found, toward his forever family.
I loved him instantly, despite his stink. He crawled into my arms in the car and snoozed for most of the way home. When we got home, though, we got a concerning call.
“Hey!” the transport driver’s voice was hard to make out. “We gave you the wrong dog.”
“That’s not your dog.”
We would later discover that there were two sets of black lab mix puppies in the van, each pair with one light colored dog and one black dog. Overwhelmed by the number of adopters in the parking lot, the van driver had given us a dog from the wrong set of puppies. The dog in our apartment, Blade, was supposed to be at a shelter in New Hampshire. And our actual dog, Gavyn, was at that New Hampshire shelter without a potential family. Meanwhile, Blade was sick — he had bad diarrhea and wouldn’t leave my side, crying when I walked even 5 feet away. He was also a big dog, already almost 20 pounds even though he was still a young puppy. Once they explained that we had the wrong dog, I saw it clearly: this wasn’t the dog in the pictures. In the moment, though, I’d been too excited and overwhelmed to ask questions, quickly accepting that the poop-covered animal in my arms needed me. We’d have to switch them back.
The next 24 hours were excruciating. We stayed up half the night with Blade, running him to the backyard as he got sick over and over again. Sean held the dog in his arms as the dog cried at 2 am, scared of his crate, scared to be away from us, confused about his new home. The next morning, we drove two hours to New Hampshire to drop the puppy off at the shelter. Not thinking about our investment in the situation, the woman who ran the shelter picked up Blade and tossed him into a crate before we even had a chance to say goodbye. While I met Gavyn, Sean stood outside of Blade’s crate and sobbed. Blade didn’t have a family and he looked tiny and confused behind bars. He wined and pawed at the door.
Gavyn and his brother Gordon lived three crates down, and they exploded with energy. Due to New Hampshire’s strict dog rules, he’d need to stay at the shelter for another week in quarantine until we could take him back to Boston. So we left the shelter that day empty handed, with no dog, feeling guilty and heartbroken at the prospect of leaving Blade behind. We both cried for most of the way home.
That week was hard. I made comfort food, spending hours in the kitchen constructing elaborate dishes and baking piles of muffins and bread, like this recipe below. It was the only thing that could take my mind off of sick little Blade, who we’d given up.
One week later, we were back to pick up Gavyn. We carried him to the car and he plunged his nose into our iced coffee cup, splattering coffee all over me and Sean. Sean tried to hold him in his lap, but Gavyn wiggled and squirmed and rolled. The next month wasn’t easy, and we considered giving Gavyn up several times. But in the end, we kept him — and thank god we did. Blade found a home, too.
Blueberry Crumble Muffins
Makes 8 large muffins or one loaf. Recipe adapted from All Recipes.
- 1.5 cups flour
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 t salt
- 2 t baking powder
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- For the topping: 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup butter, 1.5 t ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine 1/5 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, and baking powder. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, then put vegetable oil, egg and milk into the well. Whisk until egg is distributed, then stir into the dry ingredients. Stir in blueberries.
The dough should be thicker than you expect — but don’t worry! That’s supposed to happen. Distribute dough into muffin tins (lined) or a greased loaf pan. Fill the muffins cups right to the top.
In a second bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter (cut into cubes) and 1/5 t cinnamon. Mix with a fork or your fingers, breaking the butter up into smaller chunks. Pour topping over the muffins or loaf — and again, don’t worry if the mixture seems too crumbly. As it cooks, the butter with caramelize the sugar, creating a crispy, sugary shell.
Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes, or loaf for 45-50 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!