Recently I’ve become familiar with the hashtag #gotchaday on Instagram. It signifies an adoption day, and a search for pictures with the hashtag reveals it’s used for both child and pet adoptions.
I didn’t have Instagram when we first adopted Toes, but if I had, I doubt I would have used #gotchaday to share pics of her. First, I tend not to use hashtags much because of the potential for exposure. Don’t get me wrong–I like sharing things on the Internet. That’s why I have this blog! But I find the idea of going viral pretty terrifying so I tend to keep my hashtagging to a minimum (although I’m working to address this fear).
Beyond my hesitations around hashtags, I also likely wouldn’t have captioned a picture of Toes with #gotchaday because that’s not how I felt the day we officially adopted her. Picking Toes up from the DeKalb County animal shelter after having sent her there for rabies quarantine, my feeling was more, OMG, ARE WE REALLY DOING THIS? A sentiment that would perhaps best be captured by the grimacing face emoji rather than a hashtag.
At the shelter, I remember sitting on plastic chairs in a small room that smelled of cats and dogs while we waited for them to bring us Toes. I could feel my allergies activate (I have them to both cats and dogs). We were handed a clipboard with forms we signed to indicate we were accepting responsibility for Toes’s care. It all felt very official. And my response to making this formal contract was low level panic.
Taking Toes out of the shelter, I felt a brief bit of relief as I breathed in the fresh air only to be hit with fear again when we loaded her carrier into the car. We were really taking her home. It wasn’t until we were home with her in the garage that the fear subsided again. We’d set out kitty litter for her, and as I watched Toes use the bathroom for the first time, I swelled with pride and thought, THAT’S MY CAT. SHE KNOWS HOW TO USE KITTY LITTER.
I don’t know where my first picture of Toes is, but this is the first one I posted on Instagram (interestingly enough with the #catsofinstagram despite my fears of hashtags). It’s one of my favorite pictures of her.