Adopt a Shelter Dog Month: Tell Your Story

 

I love hearing stories about successful adoptions of animals from shelters and rescue organizations. A life is saved and the human-animal bond is nurtured. Now that’s what I call a happy ending!

In honor of October’s “Adopt a Shelter Dog Month” I invite you to share your story of a successful adoption. Tell me all about your shelter dog. Not only will I read your every word, I will enter your name in a drawing to receive a signed copy of one of my books- your choice of Speaking for Spot or Your Dog’s Best Health.

I’ll get the adoption stories rolling by telling you about Quinn, my shelter dog. He is the foxy little boy in the accompanying photos. After losing our beloved Vinnie a few years back, we became a one-dog family for the first time in a very long time. To remedy this situation we turned our teenage daughter loose on Petfinder, a fabulous online adoption resource. Within minutes, she locked eyes on the mug shot of a three-month-old pup with a soft-as-butter expression. This little guy was being fostered by The Dog Spot, a rescue organization that pulls adult dogs out of high kill shelters. On a trip to a Bakersfield, California shelter, they happened to notice a few puppies who were on the chopping block- slated to be euthanized that day. Thankfully The Dog Spot intervened, as our little Quinn was one of those lucky pups.

Most people who meet Quinn comment that he resembles a fox. That he does. He is an 18-pound lean, mean, running machine who is unbelievably agile. Watching this gravity-defying creature leap, jump, and twirl is truly a sight to behold. Quinn is a major cuddle bear with those dogs and people he knows, but is initially a nervous guy in new situations. I suspect he missed out on some important socialization during that critical developmental window in a young puppy’s life. He’s also thunderphobic, but this seems to be improving over time.

Despite his flaws, our Quinnie is a beloved family member. He is definitely the apple of our daughter’s eye and her homecomings from college are noisy affairs with both she and Quinn hugging, jumping about, and squealing like little pigs. It’s enough to make a grown woman cry!

Now tell me your story.

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Photo Credits:  Susannah Kay

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25 Responses to “Adopt a Shelter Dog Month: Tell Your Story”

  1. This is a story from my blog

    Homero is six years old, and will be seven on January 22. We called him like that because when he was a baby he was very very slack, he slept all day and he was not so much of a player boy. My sister said that he was just like Homer from The Simpsons (Homero in spanish) so, we give him that name.

    Homero is the second male rottweiler that we have (our favorite dog breed), so we decided that we want another rottie. When we went for him, we chose the shy one!! All his brothers and sisters ran toward us, but he hid, so that’s how Homer got into our lives, we chose that cute puppy.

    It’s not a conventional dog… He doesn’t like to play with dogs’ toys, he prefers a soda bottle, or a stick. He doesn’t like dogs’ biscuits and prize (except dry food for pets, that he loves), he prefesr human food and fruits, bananas, apples and lemon sorbert are his faves.

    Homero loves to play with water, it’s his favorite activity, we throw it and he jumps to catch it with his mouth, also he loves when we scratch his buttocks xD, he makes very funny faces and he moves the paws.
    When we arrive home he welcomes us with a big hug over our shoulders, and a very big kiss that washes all our faces!!!! It is very large and lovely

  2. Heidi says:

    My shelter dog is a black lab mix named Bear who started as a stray collie. My then only dog, and collie, Rudy and I had been walking at a popular local trail on a Sunday afternoon when we encountered a stray collie and a group of people trying to round him up for the police. I helped them get the dog into the back of the police vehicle and then followed him to the township building to be sure that they had a contact associated with the dog and hopefully assure the dog’s safety. Come Monday, the township turned the dog over to the local shelter whose policy is to keep strays for 7 days before putting them up for adoption. Since he already had the appearance of a senior and I did not want him to be PTS after his 7-day period, I immediately filled out the adoption paperwork to assure the shelter that he had a home if his owners did not manage to track him down. That Wednesday I stopped in to visit him and the shelter staff told me that his owners had indeed tracked him down and claimed him earlier that same day. By then, I had geared up mentally to the expectation that Rudy was going to have a sibling, so I told them, “well, as long as I’m here, what else do you have?” They suggested that I browse. My goal at that point was to rescue the biggest blackest dog who had been there the longest, and who probably had the least chance of getting out of there. Walking the aisle, dog after dog came up as a possibility but all had some sort of disqualification – not to a home with other dogs – not to a home with cats – not good with children. Finally, the only one left was 3-yr old “Bear.” He had been owner-abandoned just a day before. They said they could no longer take care of him and he was otherwise described as if he was the perfect dog. Two shots, $45 dollars cash, and 10 minutes later, just before closing time he was all mine. Loaded into the back of my Forester with a leash wrapped around his neck in lieu of any collar, naked as the day he was born, off we drove – sure that he would not be as perfect as his description implied, but hoping that he would at least get along with Rudy, because he could never go back to the shelter.
    From day-1, he and Rudy got along as if they were specially made for each other. Our vet would marvel at how two fully adult dogs played together as if they were still puppies. But the perfectness stopped there. Bear got along only with Rudy, and was extremely fear reactive to most other dogs, did not know how to walk on a leash, had never learned bite inhibition, was extremely possessive of his food and chew toys, and howled his little head off when left alone. We worked on the leash, and on the reactiveness, and learning to associate other dogs with good things, and how to trust “mommy” to always protect him and never take him someplace where he would get hurt, and taught him to allow “mommy” to take things out of his mouth without losing a hand in the process. Under Rudy’s able tutelage he learned how to properly socialize with other dogs, and I learned to trust his body language and not force him into a situation with another dog if he did not feel comfortable. He also learned how to run through an agility course and how to do a few really cute tricks. After about 3 years, I finally felt comfortable enough to offer to foster for my favorite local collie rescue. Our first foster was a skinny, scared, 6-8 yr old collie who was also blind in one eye and did not know how to navigate stairs, Jasmine. Somehow, Bear and Jasmine understood each other. Jasmine bonded with Bear and he taught her how to do stairs. She got the “up” part quickly, but would pace and whine at the top too afraid to take that first step to come down. With her vision, it must look like she is stepping off the edge of a cliff. I would call Bear and say “Jasmine needs you.” Bear would run half way up the stairs, turn around and bark and she would follow him down. Jasmine would probably throw herself off a literal cliff for him, and he will tolerate nothing that makes her upset. Bear remains bonded to Rudy as well, and will still sometimes howl if Rudy is out of the house without him, but he is much more secure these days. Jasmine became a “foster failure” and had to stay with Bear who is very happy to have paid it forward on her behalf. Because of my first collie who helped a second collie, we got a lab. Then because of that lab, we got another collie, and continue to foster others whenever we can. We are now 5 years after that first foster failure and Bear is still sometimes needed to help Jasmine with the stairs, and he doesn’t mind in the least. He still loves his brother, willingly shares his bed with his sister, and while he doesn’t actually share his food, he easily gives up toys and no longer tries to remove fingers if I need to remove an ill-gotten treat from inside his mouth. I can’t even remember that last time that I jokingly referred to him as my “problem child.” He’s just my “little guy. “

  3. “You work with a Border Collie rescue, don’t you,” my good friend emailed me. “Sometimes I do. Why?” I asked. “I was bored at work and found 3 Border Collies at the Gladwin Co Animal Shelter,” she said. This was in cold mid-January. Through planning and talking between us, as well as with the BC Rescue I volunteered for, my friend said she’d pick up the BCs and bring them to me, and from there we’d figure out what to do with them.

    It turned out the 3 Border Collies were in fact 4, and one was VERY pregnant. The shelter workers helped load the dogs into my friend’s mini-van, didn’t charge her a cent, and wished her luck that the pregnant one wouldn’t whelp before she reached her destination.

    In a snowstorm, they drove about 2 hours to reach my house. I was caught up at work, but my housemate, friend, and her boyfriend worked with the dogs to get them settled. I made that sound easy, but it was a veritable rodeo! The dogs acted like they’d never been on leash before, bucking and sliding all over the smooth floor, until finally they each flattened out on the floor. Everyone decided that I would keep the 2 dogs that crated up the easiest. That ended up to be the pregnant one and another male dog. My friend took the other 2, a red male & black tri female, home with her to foster.

    I named the pregnant girl Lacy, and the boy Shiloh. Once the excitement had settled down, what sweet dogs they turned out to be! I prepared for a litter of puppies, and it turned out that Lacy whelped just less than 2 weeks after she got to me – in a snowstorm. Again. While I was working. Again. Good thing my housemate is a nurse! She did panic for a bit, witnessing the first pup born. I sent her for towels (now she knows why people are sent for towels or warm water – it puts their head back on straight, plus gives them a brief breather!). When I finally returned home, I helped Lacy finish whelping a beautiful litter of FIVE purebred BC puppies: 3 males, 2 females, all black tris except for one red tri.

    I didn’t want to whelp & rear puppies, but I am SO glad I did! WHAT a blast I had! I took photos every day, and was able to capture some wonderful moments! (I even made a photo book of my experience!) I decided Shiloh, the male I fostered, looked like the likely sire, so I called him “suspected sire”, because it wasn’t for certain. As the puppies grew and opened their eyes and became more active, it became very apparent to everyone before me that the red tri female was running to greet me first, would seek me out, and all around made it clear that she was planning to stay with me (but I had to be told that. several times!).

    Through the fabulous rescue I work with, Great Lakes Border Collie Rescue (GLBCR), I found the BEST adoptive homes EVER for all the pups as well as mama & “suspected sire”. and “the red one” remained with me! She is now a Therapy Dog, and it is very clear she is MY girl!

  4. peggy says:

    I have two rescued dogs. Carly a cocker/beagle mix was a year old and in our local county animal control with a fractured pelvis, scheduled to be euthanized. I have a relationship with them, so was able to pull her. Within a short time, she was healed. She is now 6, a very well behaved loving dog.

    Angel was adopted from SSPCA where I have been a volunteer for 20 plus years. She was surrendered with another dog, because the people moved. (no 1 reason for surrender.) Her companion had serious health issues and was euthanized when none of the rescues would take him. Angel was put on the adoption floor and then shut down completely. I knew she would be difficult to adopt and had just lost my 15 year old Cocker, Willy, so I adopted her. She and Carly are best friends. Angel too, is well behaved. The three of us walk every day and they are very good with every dog we meet. People too, of course.
    Rescued dogs are the best.

  5. bitsey says:

    It was a cold New Year’s Day and two friends and I were driving to Cabela’s to shop. We had reached the outskirts of our town and were headed east on a two lane highway, chatting all at once as friends do. Suddenly, up ahead coming towards us on the opposite shoulder of the road, was a limping dog. We were on our way for a fun afternoon, should we stop? Yes? No? We pulled over. A State Trooper had stopped, too, and the dog had gone right up to him. She was a German Shepherd mix, black and tan, very thin and terribly dirty. But she greeted us kindly. The trooper was glad when we offered to take her off his hands, but we didn’t really have a plan. Barb, our driver, lived not too far away, but the thought of crating a strange dog and leaving her alone sounded just too dangerous. So we did the next best thing. We got a crate and decided to take her to Cabela’s with us! As we lifted her into the crate I said, “She says her name is Panda.” I have no idea where that came from; it’s not like I was hearing voices. But the name Panda stuck. We drove on to Cabela’s and shopped as planned, coming out every 10 or 15 minutes to check on her. Panda was amazing. She was thirsty and hungry, but totally calm and accepting of everything. Barb took her home and advertised her, and the Lawrence Humane Society agreed to let Barb foster her. But no one claimed her. So I did. Reeling over the loss of my own German Shepherd, I let Panda help me heal. She became a therapy dog and remained a wise, centered woman until her death. I still miss her.

  6. Carolyn M M says:

    Maggie, my heart dog, is gone now. She was the love of my life. Her adoption story, taking place in Belize in unlikely circumstances, can be found at The Bark magazine here:

    http://thebark.com/content/change-heart

  7. My shelter dog was a foster failure! In 2001, I was living in North Carolina and the local authorities arrested a man with 100+ fight pit bulls. A call went out for fosters to take dogs in the shelter to make room for as many of the pits as possible.

    I ended up fostering a little German Sherpherd mix that I named Hershey. Within days, it became evident that Hershey was very ill — she had parvo. When I called the shelter, they told me if I returned her, they would euthanize her. I ended up spending $500 (I know … cheap for parvo!) for Hershey.

    She ended up being a therapy dog with 50+ visits to her name, earned her UKC Novice obedience title, her ADPT Rally Level 1 title and two Novice level NADAC agility titles.

    Hershey passed away this February — at the age of 12. I thank my lucky stars for lining up so I ended up with such a great little girl I never intended to have — all that she taught me as a dog trainer — and all the things we got to do on her borrowed time together!

  8. Nancy, Central Massachusetts says:

    I have been an animal lover my entire life. We had cats the whole time I was growing up. I remember the day we “rescued” the first dog we had, as if it were yesterday (I’ll be 50 in December). It was a wonderful experience and we had our sweet boy for 18 years! When I bought a condo, one of the first things I wanted to get was a puppy. I was foolish but fell in love with a tiny dachshund in a pet store. He stole my heart. I bought him and he became “Pretzel”. 3 months later I did the same thing again, same pet store, and got another dachshund, my sweet little “Strudel”. I foolishly believed it when they told me they didn’t come from “puppy mills”. I now know that was very foolish. However, they stole my heart and became my family. When I had to put my beautiful boy, Pretzel, to sleep in February 2013, due to many health issues, my heart was shattered. Sadly, so was little Strudel’s heart. They had been together for almost 12 years, and only apart twice for surgeries. She was crying and crying anytime I left her for the whole time I was gone, including while I was at work. My heart was breaking over the loss of Pretzel, as well as Strudel’s despair. She was boycotting eating, her health was suffering (she is also diabetic & blind). I had made the decision early on after we lost Pretzel that I wasn’t going to get another dog. Strudel didn’t like other dogs & they stressed her out. However, after 6 months of her being so sad & crying, I was desperate and decided to at least “look”. I also went to Petfinder. I saw a picture of a beautiful, and very unusual looking dachshund. His story is that he was rescued from a puppy mill situation (he was a “stud” locked in a crate his whole life). He didn’t have a date of birth, but was estimated to be around 4 – 5 yrs old. He called out to me! I made arrangements to visit him at his rescue (2 1/2 hrs away). I brought Strudel with me. When we got there, Strudel got very anxious and stressed around the other dogs. She was so frightened. Then, like nothing I have ever seen in my life, Strudel sat with this beautiful boy, and as nervous as he was before we went to him, he calmed down and sat with us. We walked around the area, he stayed with us. He had been waiting off to the side watching us while all the other dogs followed us around and stressed out Strudel. It was like he was “waiting for us”. We sat with him for several hours. We walked around together. Strudel wasn’t bothered or stressed by him. She neve did anything bad, growled, snarled, snipped, etc. towards him. They calmed each other down. I decided to bring him home with us. I opened the car door, and he jumped in. lied down, and fell sound asleep. At one point during the very long ride home, he climbed up front into the seat with Strudel. They fell asleep together. It has been 3 months since he joined our family. His new name is “Dickens”, because he is such a dickens! He is learning all about life. He has things that still frighten him. However, Strudel has stopped crying and started eating again. Her health is stabilized again. Dickens is settling in nicely. He is a very sweet boy. He is completely different than Pretzel. He is affectionate and loves to snuggle. He is starting to “act out” a little. I think it is because he is becoming more comfortable in his new home & life. He is such a clown & love him very much. I think he knows he was “rescued” is very thankful and loves his new home. I am so very thankful for Dickens coming into our lives and rescuing my sweet little Strudel from her despair and depression. We are, once again, a happy “dog” family!! I would rescue another dog/pet any time!! Rescuing is the best way to go! Thank you for promoting “rescuing” pets!

  9. I have two dogs, Buddy Holly and Lita Ford. Buddy is my shelter pup. I adopted him last year on 1 Oct. I had lost my boxer mix of 12 yrs in June and when I first started looking at pictures of dogs online I would cry like a baby. I wasn’t ready to adopt again and all those dogs w/no one to love them made me sad. In Sep I moved and started a new position at work. I didn’t think I would have time to really take care of a dog. But I wanted to volunteer at the shelter. The first time I walked through the shelter I started crying again, but it got me looking. I saw a picture of Buddy online at a shelter in the next town over. I wanted to look at him b/c he was listed as a schnauzer mix. When we were in the play pen I sat down w/my legs crossed and called him over. He dived into my lap and stole my heart. Buddy is a little goofy, energetic, and much smarter than I am! :) My boyfriend and I are so happy that he chose us to go home with

  10. Carolyn M M says:

    My current dog was a Petfinder gem, discovered the day the Rescue One posted her online: a 2 year old Maltese/poodle whose family no longer had time for her. Linda at Rescue One could not have been more helpful, compassionate, or accommodating. We had extensive phone conversations about this dog, no pressure, no sales pitch, just a focus on whether we might make a good match.

    Linda was a couple hours away from us and arranged to bring Bella to a Pet Supplies Plus store at a more convenient time and location for us. I checked directly with the vet that had performed her recent spay operation and health check who confirmed all as was as Linda had explained.

    At Pet Supplies Plus, we were given plenty of time to play with our prospect and get to know her a little. Linda explained that Bella could always be returned for any reason, should she not work out or our circumstances change. Bella had been bathed, groomed and sported a fuschia collar, harness and leash ensemble that complimented her dark coat. She had temporary ID tags and adoption papers. Later, adoption photographs and a thank you card came in the mail from Linda.

    It’s a little more than a year later. The former Bella, now “Esme,” is charming , smart, willing and much loved. She’d had very little life experience outside of her former home and outdoor pen. She was only marginally house trained when we got her, and quite a “wild child.” Together, we’ve worked hard, on Sue Ailsby’s positive Training Levels program available online. Today Esme is completely house trained, a delightful companion, a good traveler with all the basic polite behaviors down as well as a few tricks which she loves to perform. We are planning to get her Canine Good Citizen certificate soon and have started Beginning Agility. I could not imagine a better adoption experience or outcome than this talented little dog.

    The adoption process with Rescue One was a delight from start to finish and I regularly send Linda photos and updates of Esme enjoying her new life. I can’t imagine ever NOT adopting a dog.

  11. Karen says:

    We have a story similar to yours. My first dog was a GSD I got for my 10th birthday, when my neighbors divorced and neither wanted to keep her – so I guess you could say, I started my “rescue” efforts early, as it was not easy convincing my previously dog free family adopting a 75 pound dog was the right thing to do!

    Forty years later, when I moved to a 10 acre property here in the mountains of WNC, I knew I could use a property guardian. I too used the PetFinders site. I fell in love with the picture of an adult male GSD in my very first session. However, with two children, and their countless friends always coming and going, 2 small JRT’s, and a cat – I dismissed the idea of bringing an adult male, with an unknown background into our home. I just could not take the chance that a breed with such a high prey drive, and unknown socialization, would be suitable in this environment. Especially a male – I had only ever had female dogs.

    So I continued to search PetFinders, and always found myself drawn back to the photo of this magnificent male, still unadopted. So I told myself, maybe I will just go meet him and assess his temperament and suitability. New to the area, and not knowing their was a Greenville SC, Greenville NC, and Greenville TN – I searched the wrong state, and thought he was just too far away to go visit on the really remote chance he I could consider taking a chance with him.

    Weeks go by, and I still search on PetFinders, and every time I am still drawn only to this boy, despite many other GSD’s being listed. So I finally make contact via PetFinders to discover he was only 3 hours away from us, not 6, and I knew I had to at least meet this dog. I learned that this was the SECOND time he had been surrendered to Rescue, although they had no specific details why, which did not bode well.

    So on Super Bowl Sunday 2008, I packed the entire family in the car and we set off to TN, just ‘meet’ this boy. Long story short, I knew within minutes of meeting this amazing dog – that he had one of the gentlest souls of any dog I had ever known. He was so good with my children, you could see it instantly. He was cuddled and loved the entire drive home, and came in to watch the SuperBowl on the couch with us.

    This was the year that Eli Manning of the NY Giants staged an unbelievable comeback to beat the New England Patriots. On the final drive, as Eli Manning made some incredible throws, I said if he can pull of this win, we are going to name this dog Eli, as both hailed from TN. Several years later, a mutual friend attended Eli Manning’s wedding and told him our dog was named in honor of him and that great win, and Eli Manning said he was honored!

    Amazingly, Eli has turned out to be one of the best dogs I have ever owned. He instantly fit into our family routine, and had no ‘issues’ at all that needed to be worked through, as I was expecting from a twice surrendered dog. It must have simply been the case of a great dog, in the WRONG situations. Not everyone needs a 100 pound dog. Eli needed a ‘job’ – and he takes his very seriously. Patrolling the perimeter of our property protecting the horses and chickens from predators, and waiting for the kids to get off the school bus in the afternoon to walk them up the hill. He rules the pack of dogs with gentle benevolence, and considers our cat part of his flock to be protected.

    I try to tell everyone who meets him, that yes, beautiful purebred dogs can be found through Rescue organizations, and that not every shelter dog is ‘damaged’. People often fail to do their research in determining the right breed for their family, and make disastrous impulse purchases of furry balls of cuteness, never considering what they will grow up to be as adults.

  12. Courtenay says:

    Archie was the fifth or sixth dog I’d looked at in various shelters. Due to my age (just 20 years old), my living situation (renting a house), and my career status (full time student), I didn’t look like a very good adopter on paper. I’d applied for dog after dog, never even hearing back from anyone.
    A town away, the SPCA had a border collie mix. I emailed back and forth with them, and my mom was taking a trip to that town for other reasons and I asked if she could stop by to meet him on my behalf. She took my grandmother (in a wheelchair at the time) and they went to meet him.
    They both came back gushing about him, and explaining every detail of their visit. One small thing didn’t add up. My mom was SURE the dog had blue eyes. My grandmother was SURE they were brown. Huh?
    A week or so later, I made the trip out to see him for myself and adopt him. I immediately saw the problem. His eyes are both brown across the top and blue across the bottom. From a standing/sitting perspective, the eyes appeared different colours to each person!
    He was Archer at the shelter, but that didn’t suit him and I toyed with names for weeks. Archie happened, he had red hair, was silly, and it stuck. Archie, for the comic books!

  13. Natalie says:

    Our first shelter dog, Chris, was our diabetic dog that started me down the road to having a website and forum for people caring for diabetic dogs.

    Chris came from a city pound at about 5 months in 1993. He had fleas, kennel cough, worms, and ticks, and he threw up and blew green snot in the backseat of the car on the way home. After all that cleared up, he got sicker instead of better. Turned out he had a pretty bad version of a congenital heart defect – patent ductus arteriosis. As quickly as he was growing, he was losing the ability to get oxygen. A few nights before the repair surgery, we thought we had lost him. His breathing was so shallow. He came through the surgery well and it was like a different dog. He was happy and felt good for the first time in his life and he let everyone know it as he careened around the park and through the Christmas wrapping paper a month later.

    The PDA had done some mild damage to his heart so he never had much stamina. But he was happy and the most mellow, tolerant soul in the world. We tried once, when he was young, leaving him with a housesitter while we took a two week vacation. He was so depressed by the time we got back, that it took him a week to recover. At which point we swore never to leave him again. And we never did. As a senior, blind, diabetic dog, he traveled 1,300 miles each way when we attended my father’s funeral.

    Chris’ senior years saw him develop diabetes, stump lots of veterinarians with it, finally get regulated, suffer worse heart disease. All of which he endured with grace and good humor. We lost him in 2008 to cancer at 14.5 years of age and almost exactly five years after he was diagnosed with diabetes.

    He was an “old soul” sort of dog. Didn’t have much need to meet other people or other dogs but didn’t object if they wanted to meet him. He was a mutt of mutts. We did a couple of DNA tests on him just out of curiosity and he was such a jumble that no particular breed could be identified. In his heart, he was a terrier who lived to chase bunnies and dance under a rat in a tree. He was sweet and gentle and patient and smart, and five years after his death, I still miss him every single day.

    I spent the two months right after Chris died all but stalking people with dogs I could talk to by day and hanging out on Petfinders at night. Finally, we admitted that I could no longer be happy without a dog in my life.

    So after looking at the local SPCA rescue’s dogs up for adoption, we chose Jack, an all or mostly all smooth-coated border collie, five years ago this month and celebrated his 6th birthday / 5th Adoption anniversary two weeks ago. He is, in personality, the polar opposite of Chris. There is nothing mellow or relaxed about Jack! But he is scary smart and so sweet and has gone from being a shy and anxious dog puppy to a cuddly and communicative and deeply cherished member of our family.

    I don’t know how many more dogs we will have in our lives. I want Jack to live forever. But if we do wind up looking for another dog to fill our home and hearts, it will be a rescue dog too.

  14. Jane Eagle says:

    CAT TOLERANT ZEN MASTER SEEKS FOREVER HOME
    By Jane Eagle, Norsled (Northern California Sled Dog Rescue)
    I volunteer with a Northern Breed dog rescue. One day, at an adoption fair, I saw a large scraggly looking dog in one of the crates. He was standing and wagging his tail, but his eyes were closed. I asked who he was, and was told that his name is True Blue; he was confiscated from owners who had kept him in a crate, in a garage, IN THE DARK…for 10 years! So: that’s why he could hardly open his eyes: he was not used to light. His size, wiry coat and long legs gave me the impression he was possibly a Scottish deerhound mix. He needed a foster home, so I immediately claimed him. My vet determined that his multitude of bald patches were due to a low thyroid, as well as having the fur literally worn off by contact with his crate. So, we began with the obvious: medication, good food and plenty of it, lots of love. He bonds FAST! He LOVES plush toys; and carries them around, like a puppy.
    Most dogs would be insane after such abuse, but True’s attitude was that it was all in the past, and he was now well rested and ready to play! I would look at him and see this big puppy in an old dog’s body, and it broke my heart; but not his. He wasted scant minutes reflecting how different his life could have been. That is when I realized that True Blue is my Zen Master, teaching me to live in the moment, not look back, create joy in each present moment.
    He did not know how to live in a house: it was like training a large friendly puppy, from scratch. He was housebroken, but not familiar with house manners, like don’t eat the pillows on the couch. He learns fast.
    He loved going for walks, but got scared when our trail opened onto fields: he was unused to big open spaces. He had agoraphobia: he did not like to be outdoors, and would rush to get back inside as much as possible. He still finds little corners to sleep in. He didn’t freak out when outdoors; but I had to wrestle him to get him out – at all! He kept trying to climb into my lap, and really exhibited puppy behaviors: play bows, wanting to fetch, jumping around, getting really excited: beyond cute!! He was really just a great big 10 year old puppy/lovebug !
    Everything was new to him, and it was a joy to watch him meet all this newness and change with openness and then enthusiasm. He found a tennis ball, and begged me to throw it for him; so I took him to the dog park, where he could run and chase. Oh my: the happiness of being able to run free for the first time in his life! After a while, I threw a ball for him, and he ran and got it; then looked around at the other 60 balls on the ground, and almost floated away in bliss. He wanted them all! After picking up and discarding several, each one more exciting than the last, he picked one and brought it back. True Blue is a ball-chasin’ fool: he will chase balls for hours, non-stop. Everyone at the dog park thinks he is a puppy!
    And then: one day I took the whole pack to the ocean, to run on the beach. You would sit down and cry for joy to see the happiness of a dog who was crated in the dark for 10 years, running free with no fences, with his pack of friends; chasing seagulls, and just running back and forth for the joy of running and being alive in such a glorious place.
    Watching him unfold and become himself is a wonder every day. After some months, a new behavior: he sang for joy during our morning love fest! Singing for joy…I wish we could all be that grateful. He’s a spiritual warrior.

    After a few months, True was ready to find his forever home, so we went back to an adoption fair. As we approached, people who had rescued him, were petting him and asking “Who do we have here?” It was then that I realized how much even his appearance had changed! True Blue had gained about 30 pounds and now had a long, silky coat: clearly NOT any deerhound, but a malamute mix. He has the cutest ears ever, in the history of the world! And I believe the other part of this magic mix is golden retriever. (Throw the ball, mom, throw the ball!)
    True Blue loves everyone and everydog he meets. He is truly a GREAT dog, and I am honored to share his life. That’s the best thing (of many) about fostering dogs: I get to meet such amazing souls, and they all teach me about healing, forgiveness, and accepting change with grace. I am grateful every day to the folks who saved him, and gave me the chance to meet him. And True Blue is ALWAYS happy! He is extremely playful, and wrestles and plays constantly with the other dogs I foster. Because of this, I would only allow him to go to a home with another large playful dog who likes to play rough. His life was empty for 10 years while he waited for this, and it is his joy; so I would not let him live without it! Other dogs who visit frequently are not the same; he does not play the same way with them, or the dogs he sees all the time at the park. (or even my un-playful 6 and 7 year old dogs).

    As we searched for his true home, I realized that every time I got an inquiry, I would cringe at the thought of giving him up. Adopting a dog is not a thing to be done lightly, and I already had a few dogs. Could I afford potential medical costs if he got ill as he aged? There could be only one answer: we would find a way to meet future challenges somehow. I don’t know if I will get 10 years, 2 years, or 2 weeks with him. Whatever time I get is a priceless gift.
    My cat tolerant Zen Master, True Blue, had arrived home. When I made the decision and told him he was staying forever, he climbed into my lap and gave me a big hug.
    Home is where the dogs are.

  15. Barbara S says:

    We went down to the shelter after having to put our two dogs down due to cancer. The first dog I saw was Duke he is a Newfoundland/Golden Retriever mix. He was big and had a lot of hair. He seemed so quiet and peaceful so we had them take him out so we could meet. Once he was in the room with us he was a large ball of love and energy. I told the gal at the shelter we would adopt him. We continued on walking around and found Lily a cute Austrailian Brendle Hound. We took her out and walked her to see her true personality. She was full of love and energy too. We took her back in and had the gal bring Duke in to see how they got along. Well they started playing right off the bat and it was as if they were meant for each other. We told them we would adopt both and asked about their background. We were told they were both agressive towards, food, small animals and children. Duke was found running the streets and Lily had 2 homes before ours. They kept asking us all through the adoption process if I was sure I wanted to agressive dogs I said yes. I explained that we will work through these minor problems and do what ever it takes to make them happy. Needless to say they came home the next day and that was back in early April of this year. They are both happy and getting lots of love.

  16. Eric C. says:

    Dr. Kay has courteously exchanged emails with me, on several occasions, providing advice (and, sincere sympathy) when I was dealing with the oral melanoma which took my previous shelter dog (Coco) – a chocolate American Cocker Spaniel. So, I simply cannot “pass” on this invitation.

    Coco had been a “best bud” replacement for Bogey – a black Cocker – whom I had for 13 years (the last year being very difficult, with an ill defined infectious process which – benefit of 20/20 hindsight – should not have been fought). Partially as tribute to Bogey, I decided to adopt a shelter dog in need of a home. Coco was 2 1/2 when adopted, and had been well cared for – he was well trained, with a very outgoing demeanor/personality.

    Upon losing Coco (early Oct, 2011), after a few weeks to grieve, I returned to PetFinders to peruse for another potential buddy. At first, wasn’t sure about another Cocker (for all the normally suggested reasons); but, soon decided – this time as tribute to Coco – would go one step further, and look for a “rescue” (Cocker). That decision, after doing some research, aided by having just retired (from practice of law), enabling me to be “home” more, to assist transition for my “new partner” (whom I anticipated would need MUCH more early attention, than did Coco).

    I found a number of “candidates” with several different Cocker Rescues ( all of which were at least an hour from me), and scheduled 2 days during which I would travel to meet them. Tarragon (“Tari” – also a “chocolate”) was the furthest from me, having been rescued from E Ohio/W Pa puppy mill (where he had been a stud) by Columbus Cocker Rescue – and being fostered in Lancaster, Ohio. So, plan was to meet Tari first, following which I would see two others, while returning home.

    The history I was provided ? Tari, at age 6+ had outlived his productive fertility years (thus, no longer of sufficient “value” to be worth his “keep”). Always out for the buck, he had been offered at auction (along with many others) with no success (sale). If not for Columbus Cocker Rescue, Tari’s fate would have been…a bullet.

    Tari’s foster dad had emailed me with some background of what to expect when meeting. Very timid little guy (and he is “little” @ about 25lbs – Coco, when healthy, had been well proportioned 31 lbs). Having lived 6+ years in a cage/pen, on a concrete slab, even having spent about 6 months in foster (with several other Cockers – 3 being the pets of his foster family) had not managed to overcome that history.

    When I arrived, “foster dad” was outside his ranch style home (which sits atop a large hill, in Lancaster) with all the 6 dogs (3 fosters). Upon exiting my car, the three “pets” all greeted me eagerly – tails wagging. Tari remained at the back – well back – of the pack, keeping his safe distance. Multiple attempts (by me, as well as his foster dad) to encourage his approach were rejected.

    In effort to facilitate an easier (for Tari) meeting on more common ground, foster dad packed all into his SUV (dogs in back), for trip down the hill, to a park area about 1/2 mile away. At the park, the “lead dogs” (the 3 pets) ran, and chased tennis balls. Tari followed them, almost in obligatory manner (keeping his distance from…me).

    Returning to foster dad’s home, I stayed for another hour. Tari would not come to me, of his own volition. Yet, despite his timidity, no evidence/suggestion of defensive-aggressive behavior. Just a very fearful/timid little guy who could not see very well (“dry eye” – rt eye – untreated until rescued – likely from “cherry eye” operation on cheap).

    Despite absence of any affectionate (or otherwise) interaction, Tari seemed of a general demeanor which would make some reclamation efforts worthwhile. So, after completing CCR’s application process (and speaking via phone with the Director), Tari was “home-bound” with me (& I was calling to cancel those other appointments).

    Our journey together began with that 2 3/4 hr drive “home” – which was…”interesting” (but will not be further expanded here). Upon arrival – my townhouse – about 7 yr old Tari was confronted by…not 1….but 2 sets of stairs (garage/basement to main floor; then, up to bedroom). He had NEVER seen a staircase – much less traversed one – before !

    We are now approaching our 2 year anniversary (of his adoption; mid-November). There are many dog lovers in my neighborhood, with whom we have interaction daily during leashed-walks. Tari’s sociability (slowly, yet inexorably, yielding to “doggie curiosity”) skills have continued to improve – greatly. No longer are staircases…intimidating. His tear production (that “dry eye”) has improved (assist to Vet’s change of RX) – though clearly has some permanent visual loss. We have bonded – he is my new “best buddy”.

    Tari is now the third “shared-custody doggie” (my ex & I were divorced during our time with Bogey – my ex a flight attendant; and, we continued that arrangement w/Coco…& now w/ Tari), has helped him w/ his confidence (as he has also….though taking more than a month of ex’s “committment”…bonded with her) with humans beyond just….me.

    A “shelter dog” is in need of a home, and a loving bond. A “rescue dog (particularly one from background similar to “Tari’s”) needs that, and more – some special attention. I would suggest embarking on such a journey ONLY if you have BOTH the time and recognition of that. However, participating in & seeing the favorable transition can be a…VERY…rewarding experience.

    A friend once commented to me that my dog was “lucky” to have me as his owner. My response ? I RECEIVE much more from “my buddies” than I give.

  17. Christy says:

    Since it is Shelter Dog Month, I do not suppose you want stories about dogs that just appear in your life. I have two of these.
    One – I rescued this young dog because her owners had her tied to a stake outside and it was snowing and cold. She had no shelter and no way to get her off the cold ground. I told the owner that if they did not want her, I would take her. They gladly accepted my offer. I took her to the vet to get her spayed – and when I went to pick her up later in the day, the vet called me back to see the X-rays. He said – “Congratulations, you are going to be a grandma. 5 maybe 6 pups.” A couple of weeks later, mom gave birth to 8 healthy puppies. I finally had to place mom do to personality conflicts with my other dog. I placed all the pups but one came back to me and is now 12 years old.
    And then – my daughter was driving on a back road coming down from Washington to Arizona – they were visiting historic sights along the way. My daughter is not a slow driver – but she slowed down because she saw some movement. She was hoping they were wild animals, but indeed there were two puppies on the side of the road and another one dead. She called me on her cell phone to say that she would be bringing two pups with her. I immediately called the local shelter to say that I was bringing in two puppies. I already had two dogs. They never got to the shelter. After getting these malnourished pups de-ticked, defleaed and dewormed and providing them with some great puppy food, they thrived. I placed one right away, – the other I finally placed in a great home but after 7 months, she came back to me. She is now 8 years old and my canine musical freestyle star.
    As I said, I cannot go to the shelter because dogs just show up in my life and I have a full house.

  18. Jan Stice says:

    Nancy,
    I could write a book about my adoptions. My current dog I adopted from our local shelter is now almost 13. She is a Golden/BC mix-about 40 lbs. Crystal was about 4 1/2 months and just sat there in the cage-not jumping-not scared. She continued to have that calm temperament which led me into doing registered Pet Partners therapy with her throughout the years. She has visited in nursing homes, hospitals, with hospice patients and does reading with students at our local elementary school. She is know by many patients,volunteers, students and people in the community. She is my girl, my teacher and my pupil. Together we have grown doing volunteer work in the community and she has given me the confidence to become comfortable as an evaluator and instructor for Pet Partners. Not only is she my fur soul mate, but she has always been there to comfort me and numerous people with her soft brown eyes and cream colored wavy fur.
    Lately she has slowed down and while I knew she was getting older, I also felt something else was going on. Even though her lab tests came back normal, I couldn’t shake the feeling something wasn’t right. An ultra sound revealed a mass in her bowel area which was removed last Tuesday. It seems it was self contained, but I am waiting for the pathology report. I don’t know if we are headed down a dim lit path from which we won’t return together, but I know the love I feel for this dog and how much she has cared for me over the years. Even now, as I cough from a recent upper respiratory infection, she looks up and checks to be sure I am OK. I know this is the dog. The one who will never have an equal. Yes, all our dogs are that way in many senses, but this is different. Crystal is the one. We will always be bound by our love and devotion and caring of others no matter what happens in the months to come.
    I always rescue dogs and cats from shelters or rescues for my pets. There are so many, many wonderful ones waiting for a chance. Right now I have two other dogs besides Crystal and two cats. What a special gift they give to our lives as we give life to them.

  19. Pat Long says:

    One day on a busy street in West Philadelphia, a scraggly looking Samoyed was found wandering. A neighbor took him in, thinking he would be a good pet for her son. She called him Sam, I think it was a law in Philadelphia, all male Samoyeds were named Sam. He was a typical Samoyed except for one small thing – he had been born without eyes. It made it difficult for him to navigate strange places, and the stairs in his new home were uncarpeted wood. So he stayed outside in a small shaded yard. He had a doghouse, food and water, but not much else. Those of us who passed by regularly stopped to fuss with him, his sweet woo-woos were just a joy to hear. He stayed there for a year and a half until the owner moved and decided she couldn’t take him to her new house. Thank goodness!

    One day in early December it was about to storm. I mentioned to my husband that Sam’s owners were looking for a home for him, and he demanded that I go get him before the storm hit. It didn’t take any arm twisting, I was there and back in mere seconds! The first thing I did was walk him back to the water bowl on the first floor, then I watched in amazement as he wandered through the house never once bumping into any wall. He would bump into chairs and tables – once. Never again would that happen unless we moved a piece of furniture without replacing it properly. He could run through that house just as fast as any of the other dogs. And we put rubber treads on the stairs, which helped him tremendously.

    I was expecting it to be a real challenge to train Sam. After all, he was blind. But I don’t think that he ever knew that he was blind. I think he just wondered why we never bumped into anything. We did have to learn a few extra commands. When he went up a flight of stairs for the first time, I would say “up” for each step, conversely I would say “down” for each step as he descended. When we called him we would clap so he could follow the sound. “Careful” meant slow down, there is something in front of you. To help him get out of the car, we would tap the ground with our foot, and say “jump” and out he would fly! We called it his leap of faith.

    As his world expanded from that small yard he had been in, we watched with delight as his confidence grew. Initially he would walk with a high step, never knowing when there would be a curb or some other change in level. We would let him off leash in limited situations at first, and he learned to trust us to shout “up” or “careful” when he needed to be aware of anything. It meant we couldn’t stand and chat when he was off leash, we had to watch him at all times. But the first time we saw him really run, not the hesitant high stepping he had been doing, what a day! He would run after the other dogs, listening to the jingle of their collar tags. On bridle trails in the park, he would feel the change in texture and angle back toward the center of the path.

    One of the more curious aspects of owning Sam was that no other dog ever attacked him. He looked like a dog with his eyes shut, so he was never able to stare at any other dog. No staring, no challenge. And my dogs learned to play differently with him. He and Vesta would play ‘bite-face’, and when he lost track of where she was, Vesta would reach up a paw and guide his head back to hers. Maggie was very jealous with her toys, so I was amazed the day she let Sam play tug with her and her Bouda tug. She would even put it back in his face when he lost track of it. From watching him we figured that he had never really had a time to play. Watching him learn to listen for the Kong to bounce before he ran to get it, well, there were so many moments like that. We never tired of watching as his world expanded.

    When people saw the beautiful fluffy white Sammy, they would exclaim and I would tell him to go say hello. He would run over to them and adored being fussed over. Finally the question would come. “What’s wrong with his eyes?”
    And we’d always respond that he didn’t have any – with a bit of a smile because the response was invariably the same. “But how does he see?” We always said that he doesn’t, but that wasn’t really true. He saw his world through us, and we saw our world through him. We shared the world in ways that I’ve never shared with any other dog. It was a relationship that was very special, and so unique.

    Would I take in a blind dog again? In a heartbeat.

  20. I did Border Collie rescue for 15+ years, so we always had rescue dogs of our own, and we still do. But almost a year ago, I saw a dog on Facebook in a shelter in NC. Of course they said they were going to put him down the next Monday (this was Friday), so I decided to jump. They said he was a Border Collie, and in the photo he certainly looked like one. I asked a friend in NC to pick him up for me (I live in Massachusetts). I then tried to arrange ground transport over Facebook. I was very impressed by how quickly people responded, but in the end, there wasn’t a good transport arrangement available. One that emerged was way too complicated to do.

    That’s when someone told me about Pilots N Paws. If you don’t know about them, you should. They are amazing. These are private pilots with small planes who transport rescue animals all over the country and do it for free. Almost as soon as I went on their website and signed up, three pilots took over the arrangements and planned the three leg transport. All I had to do is show up at the airport at the arranged time. And that’s how I got Jack.

    I don’t believe that Jack is a Border Collie, and I’ve had Border Collies for 35 years so I know. He doesn’t act like one, and there are certain physical traits he has that don’t seem “Border Collieish”. For instance, his muzzle is shorter, his head is more domed, he holds his tail up and slightly curled, and he is slightly bigger than everyone else. However, that makes little difference, because Jack is a great dog. He is smart and learns fast. He’s very people oriented and not in the least shy. And he loves to cuddle.

    He has some bad habits. When it thundered on two occasions at night while he was in his crate, he dug at the crate pan so determinately that he bent the entire thing up. The second time, we had to replace it with another. He takes tissues or paper out of the trash and chews them, sometimes taking them out into the dog yard. And he’s a chaser. He even jumps up to chase birds! Fortunately, we have no cats, but unfortunately, it’s difficult to visit friends who do.

    I have four senior dogs now, including Jack, who is ten years old. My oldest, Chance, has thyroid disease and Cushings, and he is a grumpy old man (almost 13 years old). He and Jack didn’t get along from the word go, and so they have to be monitored when they are both loose in the house. Chance always looses because he is a small Border Collie and Jack is about a third bigger than he is. They seem to have come to an uneasy truce, mostly because Jack doesn’t want to be scolded, and probably because Chance is now afraid of Jack and avoids him. My other two dogs are spayed females, Kate who will be 12 in January, and Sage who will be 11 next month. Jack gets along with Kate very well, but Sage is bitch queen, and you know what that is like.

  21. rm says:

    This is a timely post because today, my dog Abby and I celebrated our 7th GOTCHA (adoption day) anniversary with a lamb dinner (and a stuffed toy kitty from the pet store). Our story begins with my first dog Morgan’s unexpected death.

    Within a few days of our 13th “GOTCHA” anniversary, my faithful companion Morgan (a german shepherd mix) died of what was later diagnosed as a hemangiosarcoma. She had no symptoms that a tumor was growing on her spleen until the morning the tumor burst. It was quick, the decision that had to be made was obvious and in space of hours I had lost the “monster” I adopted at 8 months old from a humane society in Connecticut. She was with me through my graduate studies, my move across country to Oregon for a post-doc, and then to the midwest for another position. We drove through 28 states together. Now my best friend was gone, but at least she had finished up the pot roast I had cooked up for our anniversary dinner before leaving me.

    I was scheduled to go to a conference for work in Italy in 6 weeks, so I knew getting a new friend was not a wise choice at the moment, besides I needed to mourn. A bit of advice, after losing your best friend, do NOT read “Marley and Me” on a transatlantic flight. You get a lot of strange looks for bawling your eyes out at 35,000 feet in the middle of the night. While in Italy, any time I had an internet connection I was searching Pet Finder and the websites of our local shelters. It was at the Almost Home Humane Society site that I found “Abby”.

    She was black and tan like Morgan. Yeah, I know, not the best criteria for selecting a dog. She was ~ 1.5 yrs old, spayed and currently in a foster home. I emailed the shelter and foster person and made arrangements to meet Abby the day after I returned from my trip. We met on a dreary Sunday afternoon. She was aloof, appeared to be a hound mix, walked well on a leash for a ~ 60 lb dog, and had a calm disposition. Not much was known about her other than this was the second time she was in the shelter with the first time being picked up as a stray and the second as a returned adoption. The foster said she had limited exposure to kids, but seemed fine when she encountered them. This was a concern since we would be spending Christmas with my family which included 2 kids under 5 years old. After introducing her to my landlord and getting approval to have her, I agreed to adopt Abby and give her a “fur-ever” home and got her for good that Friday, October 27th.

    Abby’s aloofness has been a challenge in that she isn’t the cuddly, affectionate dog that I had in Morgan or with our family dogs as a kid. In order to “connect” with her, we did a basic good manners class mainly for us to bond, not because of any behavior issues. That class lead to her earning her Canine Good Citizen title and the two of us learning about Rally Obedience. To continue learning how to work as a team (and get out of the house) we took Rally classes and started participating in trials sponsored by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (and now sponsored by World Cynosport Rally). Abby earned her Championship in Levels 1 and 2, and her title in Level 3. She has also earned her Novice obedience title in the Companion Dog Sports Program (CDSP). We have had our share of nice runs, runs where we barely got a qualifying score and runs where we didn’t have our act together at all. But every one of them has strengthened our bond, and I would not trade any of them. Neither would Abby because Q or not she got really tasty tuna or salmon treats. As a hound dog, there has to be something in it for her, thus she will do “tricks for treats”. At the trials, we met a lot of wonderful people (and their dogs), who like me, wanted a safe place to play with our dogs and give them the opportunity to learn new things in a positive, supportive environment.

    My relationship with Abby is a very good one. She still isn’t crazy about cuddles and kisses, but when she does look at me with those big, brown hound eyes I melt. She is happy to see me when I come home from work, but independent to be on her own without constantly needing attention. She is wonderful around children; very calm and she let’s them pet her all over. I think the kids like her because she doesn’t jump or try to lick their face. She is able to go anywhere dogs are welcome and I know this is due in part to her demeanor and also to the time that I put in to get to know and understand her.

    I volunteer at a humane society and enjoy seeing adoptions finalized and dogs going home with their new families. I work with the dogs on their basic good manners in hope that when they do get adopted, it is indeed “fur-ever” just like it was for Morgan, and will be for Abby.

  22. J. Benson says:

    The last 2 dogs I adopted @ PAWS, turned out to become my Service Dogs! The 1st I spotted as a 6 month old puppy’s pic on a pet store’s “up for adoption @ local shelters” bulletin board. He was a Curly-Coated Retriever x Newfy, beautiful, brilliant! (Six Newfy breeders stopped me to ask me if “Alex” was part Newfy, so I believe them! And I had a CCR previously also)! I trained him @ PawsAbilities. When he was 2, he went w/me to the Delta Society Convention in SeaTac! He went to lots of appts w/me & cheered up so many people-& my dad was in a nursing home, so in addition to being the highlight of everyday for my dad-who lived @ the end of a hallway-he brightened the days of many people-I had to add an extra 30 minutes coming/going to Dad’s to allow other residents the chance to talk to “Alex” & be cheered up! “Alex” would show up dressed up on holidays, he’d howl if I howled or played harmonica, he liked his photo taken w/the nursing home residents, he’d bark on command, & he could pick up something as small as a dime & hand it to me! He lived to be 10 years old. I still miss “Alex”. When “Alex” got too old to work (around 8 y.o.), my Border Collie “Mac” became my 2nd Service/emotional support Dog. I found him via Petfinder.com near its beginnings. I’d trained him thru Open level of competition Obedience, & had him in Service Dog training @ PawsAbilities also, like “Alex”. “Mac” was a big hit at my appts, & my mom’s favorite dog ’till she passed. He put up w/mom always giving him big, tight hugs! Tough for a dog! He loved visiting the retirement/independent living/nursing home too! He was a hit! I loved sharing both “Alex” & “Mac”! “Mac” lived to be 12 y.o., healthy ’till the month before we had to say goodbye. (Shelter vet & my vet both thought he was around 2 y.o. when I adopted him from PAWS. He came w/severe seperation anxiety-but Prozac & being a 24/7 S.D. & being crated w/my other then dogs-rip guys-solved that)! Shelter dogs can be Awesome Pawsome! Worth a second look, a second chance! I’m on lookout for what dog’ll become my 3rd SD, or program to get a SD/CSD from this time. It’s a challenge being w/o! I do have a small pet dog now, good company @ home! Oh, I used to be a Shelter Checker for a local all-breed rescue group, & there’s loads of great dogs needing new, loving fur-ever homes! I recommend second hand dogs! :)

  23. LynnS says:

    I’ll try and keep this short, since you did such a great job with your concise story of Quinnie. Is there another place we’re supposed to respond? I saw something about a “respond publicly” page, but there’s no link there.

    We got 7-month old 65-lb golden/lab mix Zeke from the shelter when I was in middle school, and he was my first dog. We bonded really well as a family, and started some basic training, but it turned out he had a serious issue that landed me with some stitches and him with an ultimatum to shape up or go back to the shelter for potential euthanasia. One trainer did not offer us much help and we saw little results for our efforts; another one (a VERY famous one who had his own teevee show back in the day) told us that he was aggressive and needs euthanized; the third one told us what WE needed to do in addition to giving us hands-on help for the things beyond our capability.

    Later that year, my former resource-aggressive pushy adolescent dog was co-starring, off-leash via commands and signals off-stage, as Nana in my school’s stage production of Peter Pan.

    He went on to work with my mother as a therapy dog at the local university hospital. We went through a LOT to get that certification, because one organization automatically blackballs dogs with a bite on record, regardless of the circumstances. Since the hospital where my family has the most exposure uses that particular organization, we fought it, but to no avail. Another organization saw the bite for what it was (a mistake between a child and a young dog in a new home) and allowed them in, where they found a spot as volunteers down at the university hospital. This dog was amazing, and had that gift of which we all speak, but rarely see in person: he would just know who needed him that day, patients and family alike.

    Throughout his life, we wondered why he went to the shelter. Whoever had him put some serious time into him: he came knowing basic obedience, fully housetrained, didn’t jump on people and didn’t get up on furniture. We’re guessing it was just the resource-guarding that did it—and it was ONLY over balls. No aggression at all pertaining to food, other dogs, people, handling, fear…just that there was a point he decided his ball was HIS and we couldn’t have it anymore.

    Each year I went away to college, my parents would have to bring him up after I was settled, or else he would start licking his front legs again. Seriously–he’d start licking after I left, they’d bring him up with missing hair on his front paws to see me, and the next time I saw him he’d be right as rain. He LOVED the dorms, since the hallway with doors looked like a hospital, and he’d go to work on desperate college students who missed their own dogs.

    I took a little longer at college than others, and he made it up every year, including both of our last ones. Sadly, we lost him in 2009, at 11 years, to cancer a few months before I was to graduate. It was a Saturday and my boss was very understanding when I called her, in tears, to take the day off. It was a LONG hour in the car, and I can imagine it was an even longer hour at the vet’s office. We buried him on our land: he’s got all those acres to run on, the creek to swim in, and us to be with him when we’re out there.

    One of these days, I’ll be able to think clearly about him without breaking down, but it just ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. He was the one who got me interested in the field of professional dog training, so I have that to pin on him. Anyhow, since nothing is complete without a picture: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v133/dogs84/Zekers/Zeke2002.jpg

  24. Susan G. says:

    I adopted Tyke, a 6 pound 16-year-old Chinese Crested Powderpuff in August of 2009. He had been surrendered to rescue for the second time. I had been looking for an older dog to add to my family of three senior Chinese Crested Hairless dogs. I was very touched by Tyke’s picture, and by the fact that he was in rescue at such an old age. I knew he was what I was looking for.

    The rescue told me that Tyke had been surrendered to them the first time at age 13. The couple had gotten Tyke as a puppy. They recently had children, and Tyke was having potty problems. The rescue placed Tyke with a new family, but the couple just recently divorced and decided that they couldn’t keep him.

    Because of his advanced age, I expected my time with Tyke would be brief. He surprised everyone and lived to be 20. He just passed away recently. I sorely miss my happy, energetic “old man.” He was such a sweet, funny little dog that made everyone smile. I was so blessed to have him in my life.

  25. Anne says:

    I like senior dogs, they are mellow and easy to take care of, and since I had to put my dog Rosie (shelter dog/age unknown) to sleep back in June, I had been thinking about adopting another senior. While on vacation in Hawaii I saw Redford on Facebook. My friend posted him, he was listed as a 13-year old “geriatric” chocolate lab in a high-kill shelter, a big jowly guy with a white face, alopecia all along his backside and a suspected testicular mass that “may cost extra for neuter surgery”.

    My friend offered to get him out of the shelter and another friend said she could take him for a few days until I got back from vacation. The testicular mass turned out to be a scrotal hernia – which I had never heard of but the vet where he was sent for neutering fixed it and sent him on his way. Preliminary reports from my friend was that he was pretty active for a senior dog. When I finally got him home I found out what she meant – he’s hyper! He follows you all over the house and loves nothing better than to play fetch!

    It was very difficult for him to wait for his stitches to be out before he could start playing fetch in earnest, but the first time I took him to the dog park I was astonished at how fast he runs, jumps and turns on a dime to get the tennis ball! All his hair has grown back and he has a shiny chocolate coat with a white face and huge feet. Did I mention he’s a big lanky, guy who weighs 85lb? I can’t believe he’s 13, no sign of arthritis! He gets along with all my other dogs but he does pull on the leash, so I’m thinking about taking him to training class. Can you picture a big old labrador in class with a bunch of puppies?