Adoption Story: Candi, Jake, Dublyn, and Copper

14 Jul

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Story submitted by Candi

My fiance, Jake, and I both grew up with dogs and knew we wanted one, and both liked the idea of the loyal, smart, and kind Golden Retriever. In researching, we came across the Golden Doodle and fell in love with the idea of the breed, as they are known to not shed as much (as young professionals, being able to walk out the door in the morning not completely covered it fur was a must!), have the lovable characteristics of the Golden Retriever, and the smarts of a Poodle.

We adopted our first Golden Doodle, Dublyn, from a breeder specializing in standard Golden Doodles in Cuba, Missouri. When we first decided to get a dog, we didn’t know where to begin to find a breeder. We contacted a few local breeders, and ultimately went with our gut. We ended up with our breeder because she was quick to respond, sent us as many photos as we asked for, and seemed to genuinely care about her puppies. They are raised in her home, not in a barn. Even from a quick glance at her Facebook page, it was clear that she truly cared for the puppies like they are her own.

The first few days at home with Dublyn were challenging, but amazing. Living in a loft on the 2nd floor, in the middle of winter, made potty training a challenge (and a workout!). It wasn’t just open the door and let the dog out every hour—it was put on a coat, boots, hat, and scarf, then carry the dog down the stairs (because she was too afraid to climb them herself), walk across the street to a grassy area, and finally let her out. Needless to say, it took longer than normal to potty train her. She also awoke several times during the night the first few nights, so we had to do this all over again, half asleep. That being said, I wouldn’t trade raising a puppy downtown for anything. She’s not afraid of any loud sounds, walks well on a leash, and doesn’t bark at people. She was a fan favorite on our walks, and will always be fond of people of all sizes.

Finding a breeder for our second pup, Copper, was actually much easier, and perhaps a bit lucky. (We also made the decision to bring home our second puppy in the spring!) Dublyn and I spent the day at a dog park, and happened upon what I would call Dublyn’s “Mini mMe”. We met a beautiful dog named Max. He was a mini Golden Doodle, and we instantly loved him. We asked the name of the breeder and the rest was history.

A few month’s later, we got in contact with Max’s breeder and discussed our interest in one of his puppies. Again, he seemed very genuine, and explained that he breeds puppies quite infrequently. He breeds his own dog with his vet’s dog. We are now friends with 3 other dogs who have the same parents as Copper, and absolutely love all of their demeanor.

Bringing Copper home, we weren’t sure how Dublyn would react. She’d always been the spoiled rotten only child. Miraculously, they got along like long-time friends. They instantly hit it off, and they’ve been best pals since day one. Dublyn will always be about twice Copper’s size, and she definitely let’s him know it, but never in a rough way. In fact, she’s usually the one on her back when they have wrestling matches.

Copper’s demeanor is by far the calmest of any dog we’ve ever known. He rarely barks. He pretty much follows us around the house and sits at our feet looking up at us. At puppy training class, while all the other dogs were barking and jumping and acting crazy, he just sat calmly, and eventually just laid down to take a nap. We’ve always wanted to have a therapy dog, and while Dublyn was our first choice, Copper’s demeanor and smaller size makes him a more likely candidate.

Owning one dog changed our lives in a big way. We made a best friend in someone that always has unconditional love, and we were forced to get out, explore our local surroundings, and see our city in a whole new way! Owning two dogs has been even more amazing. Jake was extremely hesitant to get a second dog, but after the first 3 months of having Copper at home, he wouldn’t have it any other way. Together, Copper and Dublyn make our lives whole.

Adoption Story: Michael, Amber, & Duncan

7 Jul

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Story submitted by Michael

My girlfriend and I moved in together in January, and decided it was time to provide a forever home to a pup in need. It was attending a fund raising event for the Atlanta boxer rescue that really set the wheels in motion. Previously, we’d discussed getting a dog, but it was never the “right time.”

A friend of mine reminded me afterwards that there is never a good time. So, we decided to pull the trigger and actually start looking for a dog. We put in an application for adoption with Atlanta Boxer Rescue, requesting dogs ranging from 7 weeks to 6 years old. We wanted a boxer because they are the breed that I grew up with and fell in love with. We love their playful temperament.

After having not heard back from them after a few days, my mom shared a picture of a dog that needed a home because he could not get along with another dog at his foster home.

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“King” was the 17 month old boxer that stole our hearts. He came home with us that very night the photo was shared. We were a bit under prepared for a dog, but did what we could to made it work the first couple of nights. We were very pleasantly surprised with his manners. He is very good about telling us when he needs to go out, does not jump on the furniture or the bed, and does not bark.

He’s been a perfect addition to our house, as he is old enough to be house and crate trained, but not old enough for us to feel like we have missed the best parts of his life. We hope to have many many years with Duncan (as he has been been renamed) filled with lots of laughs, love and sloppy boxer kisses.

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Adoption Story: Alex, Jon, and Carl

2 Jul

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Story submitted by Alex

Carl’s dad and I are both dog people, and had long debated the idea of getting a dog. We knew for sure that having a puppy at some point was very much for us, but we weren’t sure if the timing was right. We had both recently graduated college, had new jobs, and had moved into a new place that was all our own. In our consideration whether or not the timing was right for a dog, there were a lot of pro and con lists.

Pros: Unconditional love, adorable, someone to go on walks with us

Cons: We live in an apartment, both work full time, would be too tied down to travel, and what if we need to move?

We went back and forth for months, each of us taking turns either being the one who was 100% for it, or that wasn’t sure if we were ready. We couldn’t seem to get on the same page.

One of the big debates also was what breed we wanted. Overall, I would say that typically we would both consider ourselves to be “big dog” people, and there are few small dog breeds that we were drawn to. We decided that it just wouldn’t be fair to bring a Golden Retriever puppy into a 750 square foot apartment with no yard. We took all the online polls that tell you what type of dog is best, and read a bunch of research on different breeds, but really we couldn’t help but keep coming back to the French Bulldog. The mother of a friend of ours a few years back had three French Bulldogs that we were lucky enough to get to play with and ever since then, we couldn’t get those adorable little faces, pointy ears, and happy personalities out of our minds. But knowing that French Bulldogs are expensive and prone to health problems, we sure tried. It was to no avail though, we were hooked.

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In the midst of one of our many discussions on getting or not getting a puppy, fate struck. At this time, Jon was totally for it, but I was the holdout (I told you we were never on the same page at the same time!). My sister (teenaged, doesn’t live with us, wouldn’t have to support the puppy financially, and wouldn’t be responsible for feeding, walking and pooping) was 100% for us getting a puppy and it’s really due to her that Carl is here today. She negotiated big time and agreed to help us over the summer when we got him with potty training while we were at work, and to take care of him anytime we wanted to go out of town and needed a puppy sitter. Somehow she made our “cons” list look inconsequential. Then she started looking for puppies on the online and sending me photos of puppies she was finding.

We had a lot of anxiety about purchasing a dog online. You hear stories all the time about internet scams and horror stories of getting dogs that are sick or disabled. This was a hard obstacle for us. I had done some basic research on local breeders during our months of back-and-forth, and had a hard time finding many in our area that didn’t have long waiting lists (sometimes even years long). The online resources to find a breeder aren’t great, and I didn’t know where to look. So when we saw Carl’s picture on an online dog website and couldn’t get over his adorable squishy 2 week old face, I emailed the breeder. Then we waited.

We received an email back with information about how much he cost, how he would ship to to us (we are in CA and he was in MO), and what the payment process was. It was all kind of overwhelming, and even though I was in love with the pictures of the puppy I had seen, I decided that this was just too much anxiety for me to deal with. I regretfully said goodbye to my dream puppy and tried to put it out of my head.

Then, the breeder called me a few days later, just to check in and talk over the phone. She and I spent over an hour getting to know each other. She told me all about her family, her experience raising dogs, and her expectations for people who would be purchasing her pups. We discussed openly my concerns about being scammed, and she provided me with a lot of information and resources to help alleviate my stress. By the time we were done, I won’t say my anxiety was completely gone, but I was certainly ready to bring that puppy home. As I told Jon that night, “If she is scamming us, she is earning her money. She knows a ton about the breed, the process, and she honestly seems like a really nice person.” After some convincing, he agreed to take the gamble and we sent in a deposit. Now we just had to wait 6 weeks for him to come home! And let me tell you, it was the longest 6 weeks of my life.

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Finally June 17, 2014 arrived and I was so nervous! Jon had to work that day, so he couldn’t accompany me to the airport to pick up Carl. In his place, my sister, and his sister came along for the ride. We live about an hour and a half from SFO so we had a bit of a drive to get there. We were of course early and made our way to the cargo area where you pick up animals about a half hour before he was scheduled to land. I felt how I’m sure many dads have felt while waiting for their wives to give birth; I was pacing, talking nervously and overall, driving Carl’s new aunties crazy.

Even though I had a confirmation of his flight, had spent a lot of time over the last 6 weeks talking to the breeder on the phone, and had seen a ton of pictures of him, I kept running over the long list of things that could go wrong. A half hour wait with these thoughts running through my head (and out of my mouth) would have been bad enough, but it took them an additional 40 minutes to unload the cargo and get him over to us. The airline personnel kept bringing out crates and we would jump up hoping it was him, only to find out it was yet another cat. Finally, they brought out a small crate and asked me to come over and take a look. “Is this him?” the airline guy asked. I peered into the crate and squished against the back wall was the tiny puppy. Instead of responding with a “yes” or “It’s him,” my response was “He’s miniature!” Photos make it hard to tell, but little Carl was only 4lbs of adorable fur when he came home to us, which is really tiny. After a long flight he was pretty terrified and wasn’t really ready to come out of the crate right away, so the three of us took the crate out front, put it on the ground and lay down to peer in at him. (Yes, we were those crazy ladies laying on the ground outside the cargo terminal at the airport.)

We finally got him out and it was love at first sight.

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Ever since that day, Carl has been my constant companion. He was so worth the long wait and any anxiety associated with getting him. Finding a dog online is certainly not the choice for everyone, and it’s not without its risks, but I’m so happy to say that it worked out for us. Since coming home, Carl has provided us with so much joy and happiness and he brings a smile to anyone he meets. We have also joined the world of social media, and Carl is taking Instagram by storm with his antics.

There we have found an entire community of animal lovers who share their experiences and expertise. It has been such a blessing for us to make so many friends, learn from others’ experiences and, of course, just to marvel at how adorable animals can be. Through this we have also met quite a few breeders closer to home and if we ever look to get another puppy we will likely elect to go with one of these, just for convenience. For anyone reading this that is wondering about how to find a puppy (particularly a Frenchie), I would encourage you to use social media to your advantage. Reach out and overall you will find that everyone is extremely happy to help and provide insight and resources.

Adding a dog to your family is not something to be taken lightly and is a lot of work and can be a lot of expense. However, the reward you receive from having an animal in your life is truly priceless. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Adoption Story: Natalie, Christian, & Boulder

23 Jun

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Story submitted by Natalie

Christian and I both grew up with dogs, and we’ve wanted one for many years, but never felt like we had the time or were in the right place in our lives to commit to a pup. We were poor and busy graduate students, often working late and traveling internationally for research. As we finished our PhDs, we finally decided we were ready, and planned to begin looking for a puppy to adopt after our wedding.

We wanted a rescue dog. Our active lifestyle, love of long hikes, and desire to be outside constantly made us think that an active herding breed would be a nice fit. We wanted a smart dog who would have no problem keeping up with us on 10-mile hikes in the wilderness. We thought a mutt with significant herding breed in its mix would be ideal for us, and planned to search shelters for such a dog.

Boulder came into my life unexpectedly on a gorgeous fall day in New Mexico. Three friends and I spent the day rock climbing at our favorite winter climbing spot, many miles from civilization. After watching the sun set across the open desert from the top of our cliff, we hiked down to the small dirt lot where our cars were parked. As we got camping gear and dinner out of our cars, a small white and black puppy with patches of dried blood on his face ran up to us. He seemed fearless and incredibly friendly. We were bathed in puppy kisses.

He followed us as we hiked with our tents, cooler, and firewood to a nearby campsite. We offered him water, which he drank eagerly. There was no water source for miles, so his extreme thirst was unsurprising. He accepted bits of our dinner, and cuddled with us as we sat around the campfire talking. The puppy was a mutt, but he appeared to be part (50%?) Australian cattle dog, a common breed favored by ranchers in New Mexico. This little lost puppy just happened to be exactly what we planned choose when we got around to adopting a dog.

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At bedtime, he tried to join me in my tent. I didn’t want a puppy peeing in or chewing on my tent, so I kept him outside. After a few failed attempts to enter, the puppy curled up on top of my backpack in the vestibule between my tent and its rainfly. We both drifted off to sleep. In the wee hours of the morning I woke up to the sound of a pack of coyotes howling. I realized the puppy had burrowed his way under my tent to curl up next to me, and was shaking in fear. He knew enough to fear the coyotes, which would make a quick snack of a tender little puppy if they could get to him. My heart melted. I was his.

The next morning our little puppy was still with us. We fed him bits of our breakfast of granola bars and bananas as he wormed his way into our laps. We assume someone abandoned him on the side of the nearby highway, a common occurrence with unwanted pups, as there was no one and nothing else around. Given the open landscape, it seemed unlikely that he had gotten lost or separated from his owner accidentally. He came with us to the day’s climbing site, where he never let me far from his sight. When it was time to go home, there was no question of us leaving him in the desert. If we couldn’t keep him, we would find a rescue organization that could. It was clear he couldn’t last much longer alone in the desert. My friend and I drove the hour and a half home with him content and well behaved in the backseat.

My husband of less than a month happened to be out of town for work that week. I texted him about this adorable puppy, ending with “and he loves me and wants to come home with me.” Christian’s response was, “was that a question?” Then, “if you want him, I trust you. Take him home.” That was that. We stopped at Petsmart on our way home to buy puppy food, a collar, leash, and a couple toys. I didn’t want to invest too much in this puppy, either emotionally or monetarily, until I had taken him to a vet and ensured he had neither a microchip nor an incurable disease. A friend loaned me a crate. A half-dozen friends came over that night to adore the puppy.

We decided on a rock climbing-themed name, Boulder, for the little puppy, in honor of how I found him. We gave him a bath and pulled many cactus spines out of his shoulder, events he tolerated stoically. Boulder was not thrilled about his crate that first night, and had diarrhea twice in it, likely due to unfamiliar foods over the previous 24 hours after being somewhat starved. We survived that first night together, snuggling on the couch for a nap at dawn after his second bath in 12 hours (necessitated by the aforementioned diarrhea-in-crate issue).

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A trip to the vet the next day confirmed that Boulder was not microchipped, about 16 weeks old, 16 pounds, and healthy other than being underweight. We started his puppy vaccinations, and I stocked up on puppy supplies and toys, relieved that he was really and truly mine. I bought a dog training book for my Kindle and read it in about 24 hours. Boulder and I bonded through basic training and play his first week in our home while Christian was away. I texted Christian photos of Boulder several times a day, and when he returned home Boulder accepted him as family instantly.

We took Boulder on weekend hikes from the start. He chased tumbleweeds into the Rio Grande in the fall and bounded through several feet of snow for miles during Christmas break in the mountains. He loves morning jogs and long hikes, and we look forward to taking him on his first backpacking trip this summer. He’s pretty much the perfect dog for us. We feel like a complete family now, the three of us snuggling on the couch together in the evenings after work. Having Boulder made us feel more like a married couple than our wedding did.

Boulder was shockingly easy to train. Like many herding breeds, he is smart and eager to please us, so he picks up new commands and tricks quickly. He wants to be taught new tricks. He loves other dogs and people. Most training issues came from overexcitement. For example, it’s been a struggle to train him not to jump on people, because he desperately wants their attention more than he wants anything else, and he’s so cute that most people reward him with pets when he jumps on them.

Boulder was terrified of cars, and as a result hated going on walks around our neighborhood (but not hikes. From the start he loved hikes, as there are no scary cars on hiking trails. And not car rides; those he loved). We tapped into his herding instinct to distract him from his fear of cars. We’d recruit a friend or two to jog in front of him while Christian or I held his leash. Boulder would temporarily forget the cars as he chased the group of friends jogging just out of his reach. This technique combined with lots of patience, treats, and gradually increasing walk distance helped him to begin enjoying walks, which are now one of his favorite things.

Adoption Story: Claire & Zoe

16 Jun

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I grew up with dogs—my best buddy as a kid was a brown lab/shepherd mix from the humane society that I named Polo—and I have always felt that I’d adopt one of my own when the time was right. The time finally came along when I finished school and moved to the Bay Area for work.

Though my family has had both shelter pups and carefully bred dogs, I felt strongly that I wanted to adopt an older dog from a rescue group or a shelter. There are so many wonderful older dogs that are in need of good, stable, loving homes, and their chances of adoption are small compared to puppies. When I was ready to adopt, I contacted a few rescue groups in the area but didn’t really enjoy that scene—endless applications, adoption fairs, and fees that were sometimes as much as from a breeder. I decided that I would cut out the middle man and adopt from one of the local shelters—I trusted that when I met the right dog, I’d know. My only “requirements” were that the dog be healthy, athletic enough to go hiking and camping with me, and that they have kind eyes—know what I mean?

I went to the San Francisco SPCA on a rainy Tuesday evening in January 2014 and met Zoe. She was terribly skinny and pretty timid, but when I went into her room with one of the SPCA staff she brightened up and bounced around, happy to see us. I could tell that she was mellow and sweet, and that she had a streak of silliness. They told me that she was four years old, but I think she might have been a bit older than that, though she has many years of hiking and camping ahead of her!

The first few days—and the first few months, really—were full of ups and downs as we learned about each other. She was very anxious when left alone and a very picky eater, despite being so skinny; she was often scared of strangers, turning defensive, and was easily startled by strange noises. We had some really tough days, when I wondered if if her anxiety was something I just wouldn’t be able to fix.

We were making very, very slow progress until we moved into a house with another dog, who really helped to calm her fears and taught her that she didn’t need to be so nervous when I left for work each morning. The change in Zoe was almost immediate, and our progress from then on accelerated massively. With each week of workday routines and weekend adventures, she became better when left alone and more confident when out in the world with me.

We’ve since been through two rounds of obedience classes, which she passed with flying colors while learning how to meet lots of new people and dogs. She’s gone on more camping trips than I could possibly count, and we’re regulars out on the trails and beaches near our house. It is hard to really capture just how far Zoe has come from those first days out of the shelter! She has blossomed into a great dog—friendly, sweet, happy, adventurous, smart, obedient—and the streak of silliness that I first saw in her has come out more and more.

Claire is a twenty-nine year old, living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Zoe and Claire, along with her boyfriend, John, spend their free time hiking, camping, trail running, gardening, and doing lots of other outdoor-oriented activities. You can see some of their adventures on Instagram @c_and_the_z.

Adoption Story: Kelsey & Harper, A Mini Australian Shepherd

9 Jun

Growing up on a farm in central Montana, you would think dogs would be a built-in part of life, but the reality is that our farm was close enough to a highway that it was dangerous to have a dog running around outside while work was going on. Upon moving for college and various jobs, I knew I wanted a dog, but I needed to make sure I was prepared for the commitment (financially, living situation, etc.). I adopted a cat, Monsee (a.k.a. Mighty Mo), before my senior year of college and she and I traveled across Montana, Washington, and Oregon as I pursued further education and worked in various jobs.

When I moved back to Spokane in the summer of 2013, I knew a dog wasn’t far behind. Spokane is such an outdoors-oriented small city, with great access to hiking, rivers, lakes, and is fairly dog-friendly. So I began pursuing various rescues through Petfinder and other organizations.

The apartment building I live in has a weight limit of 35 lbs., so I knew I would have to find a medium- to small-size dog. However, knowing that I wanted a buddy to accommodate an active lifestyle and having always preferred larger dogs and their temperaments, I was researching breed-types who could fit in those buckets. I considered quite a few, including Alaskan Klee Kais, border collies, smaller spaniels; dogs within hunting/herding/working categories. Ultimately, I settled on a Mini Australian Shepherd (this was before the AKC accepted them as Mini American Shepherds). When well-bred, they embody all the same characteristics as a standard Aussie: loyal, attentive, active, good work ethic, adaptable, and highly biddable. Not to mention their gorgeous and varied coats.

Early in 2014, I ramped up my search and started getting serious about dogs I would see in rescues and on Petfinder. For various reasons, each dog I would inquire about would fall through, often because the rescue would not approve my application until I moved to a place with a yard (despite living near multiple parks, having access to dog walkers and daycare, with a schedule that allows me to take long hikes after work). One or two fell through because they were unsure about behavior with a cat, which I appreciate the honesty rather then sending me a dog that would have become hard to manage within my current household.

I began expanding my search to breeders—the only catch being I knew I didn’t want a puppy and would be looking for a young adult. Bringing a puppy home is a ton of work, and while I love the idea of eventually raising a dog from puppyhood, I knew I didn’t have the set up or time to raise a puppy the way it deserved. Breeders sometimes have young adults who don’t quite fit their programs or are being retired, so I first narrowed it down to 2 to 3 breeders whose programs looked reputable and then started emailing and calling them to ask questions and see what my options were. The one that stuck was Harper—then called Cherri—who was just over a year old but had gotten a little too tall for a mini female (17 inches being the standard), so while they wanted to have a single litter with her to carry her sire’s bloodline, they wanted to place her in a pet home immediately following that.

At the time I called, there was another family highly interested in her, but after talking with me her breeder felt I would be the best home for her temperament and ended up choosing me for her. What followed was an extensive process of sharing, questions, filling out an application, and answering more questions. I just knew, between talking with Pam (her breeder) and seeing the photos and videos of her that she was meant for me. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend adopting or buying a dog without meeting it first, I also can’t imagine another dog who could fit me or my life so well as Harper does.

Ultimately breeding her was unsuccessful, but her breeder was gracious enough to honor her commitment to me and so Harper ended up coming to me two months earlier than planned, on July 2, 2014. I’ll never forget the moment they brought her crate out at the airport baggage claim, wheeling her to a quiet corner, and then seeing her in person for the very first time. She was so scared after flying, but also curious, gentle, and calm.

The first weeks and months of having a new dog are so strange—Harper so quickly become a part of my life and routine that I can’t imagine a time she was never here, but at the same time those days were full of surprises and Aha! moments as her personality emerged and I began to see her quirks and intelligence shine through. She is an incredibly complex dog who has taught me that I’m not nearly as patient as I considered myself to be, that I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did, and that life can simultaneously be terrifying and exciting.

After her experience flying, she did not recover well in her ability to feel safe in new situations, and so the last eleven months have been a very intense time of reconditioning her to approach life with zest rather than fear. One moment she may be bounding like a deer after groundhogs, and the next racing back to hide behind me because someone walked around a corner unexpectedly. She has made me her person in every way possible, epitomizing the term “velcro dog,” to the point that I’ve seen this little 33.6 lb dog scale a five-foot fence in order to not be separated from me. It is all at once exhilarating and exhausting to be the only important person in this little pup’s life.

It’s hard to explain to people when they approach this beautiful little dog that even though he’s very sweet, they can’t pet her yet as it stresses her out too much, all the while knowing she tackled me that morning at 5 a.m. to get up. In the time I’ve had her, I’ve received so much education regarding dogs with fear-based issues, in animal behavior, and how to train a dog who will cower if a voice is raised even a hair. It’s also been quite the learning curve on how to educate others that not every dog wants to meet them without giving the impression that it’s personal or offending their experience with dogs. I thank God for the professionals (including her breeder) who have walked alongside me with Harper, and yet mourn that there are so few people who are honored to see the happy, joyful, bouncing pup that I experience every day. People tend to understand shy dogs; fearful dogs are different. Harper is not shy, but she is fearful, and I think there’s a clear distinction between the two and there are more severe consequences when fear is involved.

It is also difficult, in describing the enigma that is Harper, to not give the impression that she is the result of poor breeding, that I made a unfortunate decision in taking her home the way I did, or that she’s a bad representative of her breed. That isn’t the case at all—she is just her own dog. In all the ways that really matter to me, she is perfect. She and my cat are so respectful toward each other. She is perfect off-leash (where safe and appropriate). She learns tricks with just a couple of 5 to 10 minute sessions and then is SO excited to perform them, especially when she feels safe and there are dehydrated green tripe treats involved. She is dainty in her avoidance of puddles and unrefined in her enthusiasm for duck poop. She is gracious towards me, forgiving when I inadvertently scare her, and so incredibly brave in her ability to face the world and shake off the bad feelings (sometimes literally—a good body shake does everyone good).

Ultimately, this dog has changed my life and the way I view dogs, their behavior, and their individuality. I have met a host of people because of Harper who have made my life better. I have become more compassionate toward other people whose dogs may also be special cases–that barking, growling mutt at the fence is probably the most lovable furball under different circumstances. Harper is a daily reminder to me that we all have our own battles, and the world is a better place if we all allow room for grace and empathy as we each walk our own path.

Kelsey is a farm girl from Montana who currently works in higher ed out of Spokane, Wash. When not on long walks and hikes with Harper, she’s typically reading a book, cooking good food with friends, or watching old episodes of The West Wing. You can follow her and Harper’s adventures on Instagram at @harpertheaussie.

Adoption Story: David, Andrea, & Bootsy

2 Jun

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Story submitted by David

My wife Andrea has wanted a kitty for as long as I’ve known her. We knew that we wanted to adopt an adult cat from the Humane Society. Kittens are cute and all, but we wanted a cat that was a little more calm. Plus, kittens always get adopted so quickly and we really wanted to help out an older animal.

Andrea had a particularly bad day at work, and to help make us feel better we decided to go look at some kitties. We weren’t planning to adopt yet, just to take a look.

We met a number of adorable cats at the Humane Society before one of the workers introduced us to Bootsy. She was a 7 year-old cat who had previously been adopted and then returned to the shelter after only a few weeks. We were allowed to sit in a private room with Bootsy for a few minutes to get to know her. Immediately, she jumped up on our laps, tried to head butt us, and then flopped on the floor. She was so incredibly affectionate that we fell in love right away.

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We asked if we could put some kind of an “adoption-hold” on Bootsy and come back in a couple of days (we had no food, no litter box, or anything). We were told that they couldn’t do that and if we wanted to adopt Bootsy, we’d have to do it right then. So we did. Andrea held her in the car and we swung by the pet store to pick up whatever we might need. Bootsy became a part of our family at that point and was already curled up in our laps that same night.

Favorite Quirk?

She drools everywhere when she’s happy. It’s adorably gross.

Favorite Toy?

Lately, Bootsy has become enamored by the strings of some balloons that we have around the house. She also loves her lobster.

Any struggles or successes you’d like to share?

The only struggle that we have really faced has to do with something that we didn’t realize when we adopted Bootsy: she is almost completely deaf. We just thought that maybe she wasn’t used to us at first and that she was just scared when she walked around our house screaming and mewing. It turns out that she’s had some issues with her inner ears at some point in the past. She can’t hear herself, so she’ll cry loudly and often.

It’s taken us a while to get used to it and to realize when she’s actually crying for a reason. We give her her own space at night and we have to be extra careful about not letting her get outside (she has her claws, but she would never be able to hear anything sneak up on her). But we’ve learned to live with it, and would never want to be without our Bootsy.

David and Andrea are enjoying the fruits of young adulthood: getting married, having a house, and becoming pet-parents. They live in Roswell and enjoy nerdy pursuits with friends, trying to stay active, and alternately harassing and being harassed by their cat.

Adoption Story: Vanessa & Rufus the Super Mutt

27 May

rufus-super-mutt

Story submitted by Vanessa

I fostered for a few years before I finally started feeling ready to adopt my own pup. I knew I wanted a rescue dog, especially after volunteering at shelters and fostering for several years.

When I moved out on my own in a dog-friendly apartment, I started fostering for One Tail At a Time based out of Chicago. It took me nine wonderful dogs before I fell too deeply in love to say another goodbye. Yes, I am a failed foster mom thanks to one special mutt.

Rufus is a seven year-old super mutt. We’ve heard it all: boxer, hound (beagle? basset? plott hound?), lab, corgi, etc. Rufus is a mutt, but he most likely has quite a bit of hound in him. Hounds are kind of wonderful and perfect for me: adventurous but chill, not too clingy, and yet they give you their whole heart once you win them over. Oh, and an added bonus? Rufus is NOT a super vocal hound, so that’s awesome. Whatever he is, I know one thing to be true: he’s my best friend.

Rufus (previously Brindle Boy by his beloved shelter moms) was found as a stray with no previous history. He then sat in a shelter in southern Illinois for five months before I spotted him in an email sent by One Tail’s intake coordinator, Anna. I was immediately smitten by his beautiful brindle coat and the side tongue he was rockin’ in the attached photos. I then asked Anna if it was ok if I inquired about him with the intent to foster. She gave me the okay, and I started an email relationship with the shelter’s manager.

After a few emails back and forth, transport was set up and we met him in a college parking lot on the night of October 26th, 2010. He was shy, curious, and pretty aloof. Anna’s famous last words: “I can almost guarantee this isn’t your forever dog, but hopefully he’ll be an easy and quick foster and we can find you guys the perfect dog.” Oh goodness.

After fostering him for several months (and one meet-and-greet with potential adopters gone all sorts of wrong), we decided he was a keeper and officially adopted him around the 18th of February, 2011. Best decision ever.

Rufus has become my shadow and constant companion. We do everything together: hike, road trips, explore, etc. We have moved in across the country to a place full of dirt trails and mountains and he’s in absolute heaven! The transition has been hard, but having him by my side has made it so much more exciting and enjoyable. He has made such a difference in my life and I am forever grateful that I took a chance on that adorable dog in that photo.

While Rufus will most likely always be fearful and weary of new humans, he has made some great strides when it comes to socializing and gaining comfort in new situations. He really does enjoy being out and about, so we’ve definitely tried to continue his exposure to new people and places as much as possible while respecting his limits.

Vanessa is a midwestern girl living in the Pacific Northwest, and loving every second of it! She’s worked with dogs in some capacity for the last seven years, and loves what she does. She and Rufus love to do a ton of exploring together: long walks, hikes, road trips, etc. You can see more of their adventures at The Rufus Way.

Adoption Story: Kayla & Loki, A Dachshund Mix

20 May

Story submitted by Kayla

I grew up with family dogs and wanted one of my own for as long as I can remember. When my boyfriend and I moved to San Luis Obispo, we saw that it was a very dog-friendly town. We wanted a dog to adventure with on the nearby trails and at the local beaches. Plus, after I started working as an independent designer, I wanted a companion to hang with me in my studio during the day. I’m also passionate about adopting, rather than buying from breeders. I couldn’t wait to give a homeless dog a loving family.

Loki is a rescue mutt, and we think he is part Dachshund…maybe with some Pomeranian, maybe with some other breeds. We weren’t really particular about the breed as much as the size: we have a small house, so we wanted a smaller dog that would still be able to be fairly active, like we are (Loki’s grown to be sixteen pounds). We also wanted a dog with a friendly temperament, and friends of ours have a very good-natured Pomeranian. Though like I said, we’re not 100% sure of the breed, and we’d actually never met Loki before the day we picked him up—so he was a bit of a gamble!

We adopted Loki in June of 2014, when he was three months old, from Stonecliffe Animal Rescue in central California. He and his litter mates were left in a box outside the county shelter, then taken in by Stonecliffe, as they often do to relieve the shelters from the massive amount of dogs they must care for. Loki was a “birthday present” from my boyfriend to me, though getting a dog was a mutual decision and a long time coming. We’d wanted to get a dog for years, and last spring we finally moved into a home with a backyard, where we’d be allowed to have one. We spent a few weeks browsing Petfinder, and when we saw Loki’s picture we knew he was “the one.”

He looked just like a little fox (still does) and it really was that love-at-first-sight feeling. The rescue organization was planning to bring him to a big adoption event that weekend, but we weren’t able to make the two hour drive to get him until Monday, so we paid a portion of the adoption fee as a deposit to put him on “hold” for us. (Prior to all this we did fill out a questionnaire about our history with dogs, living situation, plan for raising the dog, etc.) When we told people we’d put down a deposit on a dog that we hadn’t met yet, they were a little shocked at how blindly we’d made the commitment. But we never second-guessed ourselves! Luckily, we were totally right to trust our instincts. Even as a young puppy, Loki was calm, quiet, and a total love-bug. We couldn’t wait to shower him with love (and toys) and make this puppy who was once left unwanted in a box feel like he was in heaven.

Of course at first we had the typical struggles with a young puppy—we did need to house-train him. But overall, training with Loki was a steady upward slope, and he’s always had a much calmer temperament than we were expecting from a dog so young. The book Decoding Your Dog was my main source of training inspiration. Our goal was to learn how to communicate with Loki, and we’re definitely in favor of positive enforcement over punishment. Some things, like where Loki sleeps, have changed over time. We started off crate training him, and that was successful, but now we all sleep in our bed. However, I’m still glad we crate trained. Even if that’s not his nightly sleeping spot, he enjoys taking naps in his crate (by his own free will) and if we put him in there when we’re traveling, he’s totally comfortable. It’s his little home away from home.

One semi-struggle we have is that Loki asks for his breakfast earlier than we’d like to get up. (This is more a struggle for my boyfriend than for me…Loki knows I feed the dinner and boyfriend feeds the breakfast). For the most part we’ve accepted early rising as part of our new routine, though there are definitely days when, after giving Loki breakfast, we go back to sleep!

Adoption Story: Emily, Kokoro, & Chibi

13 May

Story submitted by Emily

I’ve always been an adorer of animals. As a kid, I begged for years for a dog, but with no luck. A couple summers ago, as I was finishing up undergrad, I decided to finally adopt a dog for myself. I really love the Samoyed breed of dog, but wasn’t ready for a big dog yet. Eskies are very similar in having that all-white fur. I also liked a few other breeds—we looked long and hard for either an Eskie, Corgi, or Shiba Inu, and fell immediately in love with Kokoro when we met her. She was so sweet and playful with the perfect personality we were looking for.

Kokoro is an extremely smart and active pup, and needs to get her energy out every day. We thought it’d be nice to bring in a second pup so they can keep each other company and always have a playmate. Chibi came home to us in July 2014.

We named our dogs with rather unique names, and people always ask where their names came from. Kokoro (心) translates approximately to “soul” in Japanese, and we named her that because she really has so much soul and personality. Anyone who has met her can immediately see this special spark she has about her. That character is also a part of my Chinese name, so it held special meaning to me already. We named Chibi after a Japanese word too, it means “short one” or “little runt,” which we thought fit perfectly for a corgi with short legs.

I joined Instagram (@emwng) just like any other regular person to post ordinary photos. Once upon a time my feed was filled with photos of food I ate, watercolor paintings and designs I made, and general photos from my life. After we brought Kokoro home, the puppy photos started to take over my feed. Joining the dog community on Instagram inspired me to work on this new creative outlet of pet photography. My follower base grew as time grew and as I became more active within the Instagram community, and it was pretty encouraging for me to continue working on my photography, editing, and creativity.

About half a year ago, my life took a huge change thanks to the role of my dogs in my life. I had just graduated in May of 2014 from the University of Michigan and started working at an ad agency when Nestle Purina recruited me to join their social media team. The opportunity came to me as a result of the community that I had built and photography work I did with my pups. So now my pups and I have relocated to St. Louis and I get to bring them with me to work every day and work on the two things I love most! Good design in social and dogs. 🙂

I’ve always heard people say that having a dog has changed their lives so much, and never understood what that meant. Now, having raised two puppies and gone through so much with my dogs, I completely get that. Dogs are so pure and full of personality, each one so different but also so down to earth. They bring out the best in us, and they teach us so many things. No matter how I’m feeling or what I’m doing, my dogs can always bring a smile to my face.

Emily is a marketing specialist with a soft spot for animals, pups in particular. She’s currently a Community Manager at Nestlé Purina and a writer for Barkbox’s The BarkPost. When not doing “real world” stuff, she spends her time devoted to a couple of her passions: dogs and creativity. Through their Instagram work, she and her pups aim to warm the hearts of other animal lovers and inspire our followers with unique and creative photography.