By Teri Errico Griffis
They say if you want puppy love, get a puppy, and that’s exactly what Alicia Duffany did. After a tough year that left her unsettled, unsure and a little bit lonely, her life was turned around by rescuing someone else—a puppy named Ginger.
“I was battling a lot of different emotions last year. I had gone through a bad break up, I wasn’t sure what my next move was and if I wanted to move back up North, and I was about to be kicked out of my apartment due to foundation issues,” the Goose Creek resident recalled. “I was just feeling completely unsettled.”
Looking for something fulfilling to do, Duffany and her mom decided to volunteer at a local animal shelter. “When we arrived, it turns out a huge group had just come in so there wasn’t much work to do—so we were told to just play with the dogs!” Duffany says. The first dog she interacted with was a pup with red hair, just like her. She nicknamed her Ginger. “My life was crazy and the last thing I needed on paper was a dog, but my mom kept saying, ‘Ginger’s choosing you. Look at how she’s following you around.’ And I knew just then this was the answer.”
Duffany had been thinking about adopting a dog for a while by then, but was always waiting for the right time—to be in the right place with the right finances and the right everything. But maybe waiting for the perfect moment wasn’t what she needed. As unplanned as it was, that day Duffany adopted Ginger. “While a part of me thought, ‘Oh gosh, what did I just do?’” she remembers the drive home with a laugh, “every other part of me shouted, ‘This is awesome!’”
A year later, it just keeps getting better. There’s a change in Duffany, a constant smile, a sense of purpose, a peace. “Adopting Ginger helped me find focus, and also helped me channel this restless energy I didn’t know what to do with before,” she says. “Now I have a little partner in crime to go exploring with. I visit new parts of town with her, go on walks and venture into the dog park world. It helped me have an outlet for that little bit of loneliness you can feel sometimes. And it’s the most wonderful feeling to come home and have someone who loves you unconditionally just waiting at the door.”
Adopting Ginger also helped Duffany, who works more than 40 hours a week at the Lowcountry Food Bank, find a healthy work-life balance. “When you have someone you’re caring for, someone that depends on you to come home, you have to take that break and go focus on them,” she says. “There’s a factor of self-care, too. After a really stressful day, I’d come home beat and just want to do nothing. But I see that Ginger wants to go for a walk and it forces me to get up and do something positive. A walk with her relieves that stress and I end up feeling so much better in the end.”
Duffany fully believes that she found happiness last February when she adopted Ginger. “She fills that void and gives me a sense of purpose, something to look forward to. I love my little buddy and it makes me feel amazing knowing she loves me unconditionally too.”