When we decided that the theme of our second writing contest ought to be "How I Met My Dog," I was excited for the opportunity to hear stories about how dogs have changed people’s lives, or even saved them. Then I was saddened because, seeing as I work for Modern Dog, I wouldn’t get to share the story of Elmo, my own dog who changed and saved my life.

Then Connie wrote a gorgeous blog post about how she met her Kaya, and I thought about how imitation is the best form of flattery, and decided that my blog, too, could be the place in which mine and Elmo’s story could find a home! So here it is:

I was twelve years old when my family made the decision to get a dog in honour of my little brother’s birthday. My grandmother excitedly informed us that a neighbour of a friend of a friend had a dog who had just had puppies, and they were trying to get rid of them.

The very next day, my father drove us out to see these puppies, and we were greeted by a wriggling mass of cream-coloured, hyper-excited puppies. Their mother was a crossbreed with some American Eskimo in her, and their father was rumoured to be the gray Poodle next door– Eskipoos. All but one were cream-coloured, and my brother, being the rebel that he was at seven, chose the darker one, of course, and I sat back and watched, determined not to bond with a single one of those puppies that would not be mine.

I hear over and over again that sometimes you don’t get to choose the dog, the dog chooses you. That definitely applies. The runt of the litter wriggled away from his littermates, climbed up on my lap, flopped down like a baby in my arms, and contentedly went to sleep.

I can’t remember how long I cradled him and stared and stroked his little ears, which were a few shades darker than the rest of him, which was, really, the only thing that set him apart from most of his siblings.

The puppies were not old enough to leave their mother, so we left again, after promising to return in a few weeks for my brother’s puppy.

Coincidentally, the puppy was old enough to come home with us on the same day of my brother’s official birthday party, so my father went to get the puppy alone.

Fate intervened, I suppose. My brother’s dark little puppy peed on my father’s shoe, and my father made an executive decision and chose another, the happy, friendly, non-peeing one who had dashed out to greet him first.

Of course, it was Elmo. Maybe he knew. Maybe he was just that friendly. Either way, he was scooped, brought to the party, deposited on the ground among the throng of excited children.

Once again, I was not there, choosing, instead, to stay as far away from that dog as I could, since he would not be mine.

He was having none of that, dashed through their legs, and found me seconds later, his dark little ears and pink little nose giving him away instantly, and he was mine.

It only took my brother a month or two to realize that the puppy had never really been his, and there were no hard feelings when he finally gave up and said, "I guess you can have him, Melissa. He likes you best."

He didn’t understand that Elmo had been mine long before he decided to graciously pass ownership to me. Sometimes dogs pick you, sometimes you pick them, and sometimes its just fate, or coincidence, or something else entirely. But I know Elmo saved my life when things got rough (c’mon, teenage years always get rough), and I wouldn’t be who I am if he hadn’t chosen me all those years ago.

Quick, send us your own story. Enter our How I Met My Dog story contest. The deadline is September 1st (which is SO soon, so write like the wind, my friends!)