Valentine's Day

The Heartwarming Story of Percy the Dog & His (Food52-Fostered) Adoption

February  8, 2017

Valentine’s Day is next week, and whether or not you like the holiday, you’re sure to be charmed by our Food52 Love Connections: All week long we'll be sharing one heart-warming story a day about connections (romantic and otherwise) fostered through our site.

Percy the pug’s story begins with em-i-lis, who wrote a blog post last year about this time, telling the tale of Percy’s life with her family:

Percy the pug as a pup. Photo by em-i-lis

Eleven years ago, when Tom and I were newly married, just out of graduate school and in our first home, we decided to get a dog. I’d lived in New York City for years before I met Tom, and there, because they are good apartment dogs, pugs are ubiquitous. They are infinitely charming little animals, like velvet-eared, pig-tailed casks on stubby legs, and I had fallen in love with them. Or at least the idea of them.

Neither Tom nor I had ever had a dog but thought a pug would be perfect because, I believed, they don’t shed and are couch potatoes. Pugs are popular so we had a hell of a time finding one to adopt. Finally, we came across a breeder, Joyce, in rural Maryland whose mother pug, Peaches, was soon to have a litter. We hoped for a female and planned to name her Penelope.

When the puppies were born, Joyce called us to come meet them and pick one. By the time we arrived, the females had been claimed, and just one little male was left. On unsteady legs through the unfamiliar grass, the little pup came towards us, and our hearts melted. He weighed only a few pounds, and if you held his soft ears down against his head, he looked exactly like a baby harp seal.

“Yes,” we told Joyce, “we definitely want him.”

“Come back in a month,” she said. “He’ll be old enough then.”

During those next four weeks, we readied the basement and chose a name that felt like the male equivalent of Penelope: Percy. “Percival Ulysses,” we laughed, for then his initials would spell “PUG.” I bought wooden letters that spelled Percy, glued them to a board, and painted the nameplate in colorful hues. We hung it on his crate and waited eagerly.

Take the time to read the full story on em-i-lis’ blog (Editor’s note: Be prepared to turn into a puddle of mush), but long story short, though Percy is a kind and patient dog, over time it became clear that Percy wasn’t a good fit for the family any more. As em-i-lis explains, “We have tried our very best to love and care for Percy. He is a sweet soul and the picture of health, but we aren’t able to provide for him emotionally in the ways he needs.”

Shop the Story

Which is why, when em-i-lis’ family bought a new house and were gearing up for the move, they realized it was time to find a new home for Percy, too:

Tom and I agreed to start looking for a home worthy of our pup, a place where he would be adored and cherished and live out the rest of his years as happily as possible. I hoped to find a local home, so we could still visit him, but I couldn’t. And so in tears, I reached out to my friend, Suzanne (Editor’s note: A.K.A. sdebrango).

She writes the food blog, A Pug in the Kitchen, and we met several yeas ago in the online food world. We spent a day together last time I was in New York, and I know that her heart has felt a definite void since her pugs died last year.

With all the love and enthusiasm and graciousness in the world, Suzanne said she adopting Percy would fill a hole in her heart. I realized, then, that it would also fill the hole in Percy’s heart, the one we haven’t been able to.

Em-i-lis’ husband drove Percy to sdebrango’s on February 13th, because, as she says, “I wasn’t strong enough to do so. Watching them leave was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I love him and miss Percy's sweet face already. But he will be so happy with Suzanne, and I know she will love him and treat him like gold. They will be each other's Valentine tomorrow.”

Percy settling into his new home. Photo by sdebrango
There is once again a pug in my kitchen and I couldn’t be happier.

The next day, on Valentine’s day, sdebrango shared her side of the happy re-homing on her blog:

A few weeks ago, I got an email from my good friend Emily, she and I have known each other for quite some time now, we met on Food52, where I have met and am friends with some amazing people. Well, Emily lives in DC with her husband T and two children, their cat Nutmeg and pug Percy. I follow her blog Em-i-lis, reading it every day—it’s part of my morning routine. She is an amazing writer, a great cook, and the sweetest person.

In the email Em asked me if I would consider adopting her pug Percy, he is 10 years old and a real sweetheart but she just can’t give him the attention he needs with her busy life. I said yes, of course, I would.

After losing Izzy first and then Nando shortly after I was grief stricken but at the same time I needed some time to recover from the trauma of their deaths, I had always said that although I was not looking for another dog, at least not now, I thought that if the situation presents itself I will do it. So it did, and yesterday, Saturday February 13, they brought Percy to live with me in Brooklyn. There is once again a pug in my kitchen and I couldn’t be happier. I am grateful to Em for giving me this sweet gift and I know she will miss Percy but she can be certain that he has a good and loving home.

Their replies to each other in the comments of sdebrango’s post are enough to make anyone melt:

em-i-lis: Look at my sweet boy! I am so grateful that he is there with you, Suzanne. What a loving gift you have given him and us. Thank you for loving him and welcoming him into your home. I was lucky to meet you years ago. I love you, Percy! And you too, Suzanne. Happy Valentine’s Day!

sdebrango: He did great Em, cried for a little while at bedtime but I made my bed on the floor last night and slept with him. He did really well, slept through the night is eating well and seems to be ok. Sometimes he jumps on the day bed and has a far off look and I know he is thinking of you but he seems to be happy now. Thank you for the gift of Percy.

It's abundantly clear that Percy is one lucky pooch, and Food52ers are one special bunch.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“To all these critical commenters, stop with your judgmental, holier-than-thou attitude. Not everyone's pet experiences are the same, and not everyone's pet choices are permanent. This family's loving commitment to finding a new home for their beloved pet should be an example of what many people these days are sadly lacking - kindness and compassion.”
— mrslarkin

Don’t miss any of our Love Connections! Catch up on Monday’s, Tuesday's, Wednesday's, and Thursday's.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


Greenstuff February 13, 2017
It takes a great amount of heart to realize that your dog might be better off elsewhere. How wonderful that Food52 pointed to the perfect new family.
mrslarkin February 12, 2017
To all these critical commenters, stop with your judgmental, holier-than-thou attitude. Not everyone's pet experiences are the same, and not everyone's pet choices are permanent. This family's loving commitment to finding a new home for their beloved pet should be an example of what many people these days are sadly lacking - kindness and compassion.
Bevi February 14, 2017
Suzanne, I have never among the people I know well seen a person as kind and devoted to animals as you are. Bless your soul. xxoo
Beth100 February 11, 2017
This breaks my heart. I think now of those precious days with my now-deceased elderly dog, that last summer when I would hold him in my arms and sing to him by the lake. I I cannot imagine life circumstances that could've induced me to delegate that sacred trust and privilege. I'm not blaming, perhaps there's more to the story. It's just so sad.
Sibibo February 11, 2017
What a horrible story. What I read is that they gave away an elderly member of their family because he is now old, needs more care and in their mind will ruin their new house? What lesson are they teaching their kids?
Lindsay-Jean H. February 11, 2017
We work hard to foster a warm, inclusive community and while we welcome differences of opinion, we ask that they be expressed in a respectful, considerate manner. Some of the comments here are not constructive, and we ask that you be more mindful in the future.
nunyuz February 11, 2017
Either you welcome "differences of opinion" or you don't. Just let us know your demands unser fuhrer so we can choose to go elsewhere.
Lindsay-Jean H. February 11, 2017
Per our Terms of Use we note that community members cannot harass other users. Expressing one's opinions is okay, but bullying is not, so any mean, abusive comments specifically directed at another user will be removed.
S G. February 11, 2017
Em i lis should be ashamed Thank the Lord for the hero of this story Suzanne
erin February 11, 2017
The only heartwarming part of this story is the kindness shown by Suzanne. The fact that the original owner is getting head pats and links out to her blog is a disgrace. What are we meant to admire? That they 'wanted' to adopt but only if it could be a specific, cute breed... so they didn't adopt, they bought from a breeder (supporting an industry that is overbreeding these animals into mutated versions of their original selves as well as ensuring desperate dogs in pounds are not adopted). Then, after giving that dog a home for TEN years they hand it off because they 'couldn't give it what it needs'. What, you mean love? Have some goddam responsibility - please don't buy or adopt any more animals.
alicia February 11, 2017
The only "heartwarming" thing about this story is that Percy's first family had enough compassion to find him a new home instead of abandoning him entirely. Oh and that they are sufficiently self-aware to understand that they aren't dog people, but only because they can't bear the thought of their dream home getting peed on. Otherwise, this is yet another example of what happens when people don't train their companion animals properly. The dog suffers.
jennipoo9 February 11, 2017
This is terrible. How could you give away a 10 year old dog? I've never read anything so appalling that is being spun as heartwarming.
drbabs February 10, 2017
So sweet.