How I came to adopt a dog from Prince's ex-wife

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Mayte Garcia's nonprofit is funded entirely through the generosity of animal lovers.

The post on nextdoor.com appeared on a Tuesday during a prolonged season of melancholy.

In successive years, our family had lost two pets. Huggie Bear, our 18-year-old lab/healer/German short hair/pig mutt, was first. Then Tigra, a.k.a., "Fleabag," age 14, closed her feline eyes beside her "Father," a nine-year-old boy.

It had been almost a year since we said goodbye to "T" when the nextdoor post caught my attention: "Beautiful, Sweet Family Dog Up for Adoption!"

I thought: Be still, my beating, broken former pet-owning heart.

The pup's name was Jade. She was an eight-year-old American Bulldog, and her interests included laying in the sun, belly rubs, and kids.

"My favorite is going on walks and being part of a family," it read.

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Then came the caveat.

Jade was "an alpha-female," and a "four-legged queen" who didn't know how to share a home with other pets. It was that detail which led to the current predicament: "… I am now in foster care in Bryn Mawr UNTIL THURSDAY."

Thursday? As in two days from the day I was reading it? What happens post-Thursday? I didn't want to think about it.

We'd had a few serious in-house discussions about a return to the pet-owning ranks. We'd always found excuses. It was too soon. The yard wasn't conducive for a dog. We'd be gone for hours at a time during hockey and soccer seasons.

There were no excuses good enough for the dog in the picture with those eyes. She was standing strong, yet emanated sweetness. Beside Jade in the photo was a dark-haired woman on one knee, her left arm wrapped around the soon-to-be orphaned pooch.

I re-read the post. Again. And once more. 

"Would you or anyone you know like to adopt me?" it continued. "I am available to adopt to a good, healthy, loving pet-free home through Thursday."

I messaged the post's author as instructed. Wednesday passed, then Thursday. No response. Late Friday, I got a call. The foster had missed my message. Because she had dogs of her own, she'd been forced to take Jade to a shelter in Eden Prairie.

When I contacted the shelter, a volunteer said Jade wasn't available for adoption.

She's being taken back to the rescue in California where she'd come from originally, the woman said. I decided it wasn't meant to be.

The next day the phone rang, and the woman on the other line had big news. She was Jade's legal guardian, and if we still were interested, she'd bring her by our house Sunday morning.

"Yeah, dad," my kid said, as if I'd just asked the dumbest question in the history.

When we got back from church, two women and a giant bulldog were waiting on the sidewalk outside our house. Jade was maybe 90 pounds, and gentle, receiving my son's excited affection with canine civility that showed off her mellow nature. She was my grandmother, built like the Serena Williams of dogs.

The five of us walked the path beside the lake. We got to know one another. I gave our Tigra and Huggie back story to Jade's guardian, who'd soon tell me that she'd once worked for Prince. She said Jade had come to Minnesota from a rescue shelter run by a woman based in based in California.

Only later did I put together what was happening. The dog rescuer's name was Mayte Garcia. She was Prince's first wife.

Mayte, the woman said, had rescued Jade from a shelter in Miami, and brought her to California, where she trained the dog.  She first tried placing Jade with a family in the Twin Cities, but things didn't work out.

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The woman who'd worked for Prince had first met Mayte Garcia when she was still a teenager. The couple's eventual divorce and the passage of time hadn't affected the women's friendship, and now, when Mayte's rescue dog needed some luck and divine intervention, here she was at our house, leash in hand.

There was no way we were letting Jade go back to the shelter or anywhere else for that matter, which was affirmed by the sound of Mayte's voice as we all talked via speaker phone.

"I'm so happy!" she said. "Thank you!"

No, Mayte, thank you.

It's a name that will forever hold a special place in this heart. Not because of the man to whom she once was married. But because it's a beautiful name, belonging to an even more beautiful human being, who brought Jade home to us.


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