I’m talking about adoption. Last spring, we decided we wanted to add a second dog to our family. We live in a pretty rural area, and Cassie needed a playmate to enjoy our big back yard with her. I had always thought someday I’d rescue a dog… when I was a better dog trainer, when I had more time on my hands to train, when Cassie was older and calmer (ha!).
After all, I watch shows like “The Dog Whisperer” and “It’s Me or the Dog” and all those other shows who offer training advice to dog owners at their wit’s end. So many of the dogs on those shows are rescues with baggage that results in behavioral, fear or aggression problems. So many of the dogs I meet at the beach are rescues and their owners explain away their problems saying, “He’s a rescue, and we think he was abused, so that’s why he does that.” Did I really want to add that kind of stress and chaos to my life?
I mean, we were in a pretty good place here at home. Cassie is energetic, sure, but besides killing her toys, she’s not destructive, fearful or aggressive. We were pretty lucky, and I didn’t want to risk upsetting the balance. The “what if” list going around in my head was pretty daunting.
But here I was scouring the listings on petfinder.com and signed up with adoptapet.com to be notified if a dog came into my area that fit my search parameters. And I’m pretty picky. I wanted a portable dog we could take sailing with us. I wanted a dog near Cassie’s age, so they could be buddies. I wanted a dog that was outgoing and friendly. I wanted a dog that might like agility. And swimming, and going to the beach, and hiking with me. And would fit in with our lifestyle, and not eat the cat. Geez, this poor dog needed to be awesome! Did that perfect dog for us even exist out there in rescue land?
Well, yes! Yes she does! I got an email from adoptapet.com with a teeny little photo of a dog that reminded me of my sister’s dog Tristan. Oh, I had loved Tristan, she was the PERFECT dog. Tristan crossed the bridge many years ago, but here was this tiny photo, and I clicked through… and the rest is history.
We visited the foster home and, of course, fell in love and brought her home that day. Melissa, as she was known then, became our Moxie (we think that name fits much better) and she fell into our routine as though she was always with us. She and Cassie became best buds the moment they met. Moxie followed wherever Cassie led. She’s learned to love the pool, the beach, the boat, the bed. If Cassie likes it, Moxie does too. She followed Cassie’s lead in the house too, learning quickly was is, and isn’t, allowed in the house.
In a nutshell, finding Moxie was one of the luckiest days of our lives.
Is she perfect? Now really, wouldn’t that be boring? She’s a young dog and we’ve had some work to do. But not because she has baggage from being a rescue! I think that’s my point here… just as with Cassie, who has been with us since she left her mom, dogs, like people, are a work in progress. Granted! But the fact that a dog is from rescue does not necessarily mean we need to pull our hair out crying “Why me?!?” at the heavens, like all those poor people on the tv reality shows. AWESOME dogs are in rescue right now, waiting for the perfect home, or even the not so perfect home. Sure, we’re working on the ever present, jumping up issue with both dogs. Both dogs are still a little too eager on the leash. Nothing we can’t live with and hopefully overcome.
Yes, there are lots of dogs out there with real challenges. Challenges too great for a person like me with average dog training skills. But I think maybe a lot of people who watch the reality shows could be scared away from adopting, as I almost was, fearing the worst case scenarios shown on those shows is what they’ll be in for if they adopt. That’s where I was so mistaken.
The reality was, when I talked to the people who fostered these dogs, I found them to be totally honest and straightforward about the dogs they were fostering… the good and the bad. They REALLY want the fit to be right, and they want that dog to find the forever home that’s the perfect fit for everybody concerned. That makes all the difference. That’s the part I didn’t know going into this adventure. It seems so obvious, but hey, it was news to me. Good news, that is.
I used to think rescuing a dog was the right thing to do for the good of the pet overpopulation issue. Sure it is. I also thought it meant making a lot of compromises. Not true. I realize now that adoption gives back way more than adopting just one dog could do. Now when we watch tv, Cassie brings her toys to the tv and wags her tail. But Moxie prefers to cuddle up with me on the couch and I feel truly blessed by both my girls. I adopted and life is still good.
Will I adopt again someday? Abso-freaking-lutely!