Blog the Change: Just One Dog

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This might seem obvious to other dog people out there, so I apologize in advance for preaching to the choir. It wasn’t obvious to me.  In fact, before I did this, I was really worried that I would regret my decision and be “stuck” with a problem I wasn’t prepared to handle.

Moxie's photo from her foster mom

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 and signed up with 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 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.

Cassie and Moxie snooze after their time in the pool

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!

24 replies
  1. Pamela
    Pamela says:

    That was one of the best descriptions of the joys of adopting a dog I’ve ever read.

    I’ve adopted 3 dogs before getting my current pure bred Golden. Each dog has been a special gift. Thanks for expressing this so well.

    And you’re right, finding homes will happen one dog at a time.

  2. Donna and the Dogs
    Donna and the Dogs says:

    Great post. Thank you for adopting Moxie, and spreading the word about rescued dogs!

    It is so true that you can rescue a dog without issues. You just need to be careful in your search. Contact rescue groups. Look for dogs that are in foster, so the foster ‘parents’ will have a good idea of the dogs traits, good or bad. Ask a lot of questions, and don’t just fall for the first dog that meets the ‘look’ you are interested in.

    When rescuing, personality should come before looks.

    All of our dogs have been rescues, but we are strange in that we look for dogs with ‘issues’ and ‘baggage.’ It is amazingly rewarding to watch them leave their problems behind and grow into wonderful dogs, just by offering them patience and guidance and love.

    • moxie
      moxie says:

      In EVERYTHING, personality should come before looks. 🙂 Right you are! Great advice on working with rescues and bravo for working with dogs who are more difficult to place. I admire that so much!

      • Donna and the Dogs
        Donna and the Dogs says:

        “In EVERYTHING, personality should come before looks.”

        LOL! Too true!! 🙂

        Love this blog. I added it as one of my favorites on my Donna and the Dogs facebook page, I liked it on my personal page, and I added it to my blogroll. (I also saw that you ‘liked’ my facebook page too. Thanks!!

  3. tena
    tena says:

    As the pet-parent to 5 adopted critters–two with some issues, this was really refreshing to read! So many people see all shelter/rescue dogs as being terribly damaged when that is simply just not the case. I have two issues dogs by choice because i was confident in my skills to rehab them… but most average pet owners can find their perfect dogs in the shelter/rescue system easily.

    Great post and thanks for adopting!

  4. Kelly & Crew
    Kelly & Crew says:

    Fantastic post!! And all so true! We have a Moxie, too, who came home with us when she arrived at the shelter I volunteer at…she just had me at her squeaky little “woof” 😉 But, it is true that shelters and fosters are not just trying to dump a dog with anyone who will take it…they want you to know about ANY issues, past experiences, behaviors BEFORE you take a pup/dog home so they can be sure you really want to take the time and effort to build a relationship with your new pet and as we all know, have a true-blue, life-long, best friend!
    God Bless~
    Kelly & Crew
    Big Mac, Molly & Moxie~

  5. Bella and Daisy
    Bella and Daisy says:

    I have both sides of the adoption story. I have one dog with issues that I had to learn fast to try and deal with and help. Bella, my sweet but fear-filled dog. Daisy is the opposite. I went through a rescue so I could find out what dog suited me and Bella and they helped pick out Daisy for me. I love both my adopted dogs.

  6. Edie
    Edie says:

    I think this is an important issue and I’m glad you blogged about it. I have a fearful dog who happens to be a rescue and I walk with a friend with a very lively purebred fox terrier. My friend often “apologizes” for my dog, who doesn’t want to interact like his does, by explaining, “He’s a rescue.”

    I know he’s trying to help keep people from approaching and frightening my dog and so I never correct him, but I know many fearful dogs that are purebred. And most of the shelter dogs I meet are outgoing and friendly — enough to worry my not so outgoing and friendly rescue pup!

  7. caren gittleman
    caren gittleman says:

    Thanks so much for posting about such an important topic…..your blog is great and I am now following you through networked blogs….will try and see if I can follow you through email as well.

    I also “liked” you on Facebook and am following you on Twitter!

    Nice to meet you!

  8. Neely
    Neely says:

    That was a fantastic post! My best friend just bought a new boxer puppy because her husband was afraid that if they adopted one it would have too many issues. She told me “I know you’ll be mad.” I said that I wasn’t mad, just sad, because there are so many boxers (and other dogs) that need homes! I wish they had read this before making their decision!

  9. Pup Fan
    Pup Fan says:

    Wonderful post… rescue pups are the best! I hate that people just assume “rescue” means something bad. I’ve never had a sweeter, easier, happier dog than my rescue Bella.

  10. Kim Clune
    Kim Clune says:

    Moxy sounds wonderful! Congratulations!

    Having worked with my husband at dog adoption clinics, I have met so many terrific dogs, some that I still can’t believe haven’t found homes. We have two of the sweetest little beagle girls right now, Thelma and Louise, who are still being boarded at a kennel without a home. It’s so sad. They are perfect but older. That’s it. And our absolutely perfect purebred Newfoundland, the best dog in our whole universe? He was a rescue – just 2 years old.

    Thank you for sharing about how great rescues can be and how every dog is a work in progress. And your “Abso-freaking-lutely” cracked me up!

    Thanks for Blogging the Change!

    • moxie
      moxie says:

      I hope your two foster beagles find a great home soon. My husband had a beagle growing up and he loves them! Where are you located? If somebody reads this and also loves beagles, they’ll want to know where they are… love the names, Thelma and Louise… that’s awesome!

  11. Chandra
    Chandra says:

    Really enjoyed reading your adoption story! I’m so glad you and Moxie found each other and it sounds like she and Cassie are wonderful sisters. Thanks for adopting and for sharing your experience for the benefit of everyone who might be considering doing the same.

    -Chandra at Daley’s Dog Years

  12. Kristine
    Kristine says:

    Thanks for such a postive post on adoption! So many of us, myself included, focus on the negative aspects, but that is problematic as it only serves to perpetrate a stereotype that rescued dogs have all been abused and will never be great pets. Which is so wrong! In fact, most dogs in shelters have not been abused and using that as an excuse not to train him or her is a cop out for a lot of people, unfortunately. And some trainers.

    I am so glad you found Moxie and took the chance. I am so glad I did with Shiva. She is more than I could have ever hoped for.

    Great post!

  13. catcalls
    catcalls says:

    This was fabulous!!! I am so happy for both of you. Isn’t that what life is anyway….give a little and receive a LOT! So glad you found your match!

  14. Shauna (Fido & Wino)
    Shauna (Fido & Wino) says:


    Thank you for reminding all of us what it is like to adopt for the first time- it is important to keep fresh eyes on the issue of encouraging people to adopt and you really did that!

    I would love for you to join the R.O.A.R. Squad if you’re interested! Here are the questions if you need them and *thank you* for the Rhode Island lead!

    – 2-4 photos of you and your rescue pet (your face must be visible in at least one picture)
    – Provide the following info:
    – Your/you & your partners names
    – Your pet’s name(s)
    – About you/you & your partner
    – if you have a blog/website, please include links
    – Your pet’s breed and age
    – Rescue/shelter name/circumstances around how you came to adopt your pet
    – Rescue/shelter website link
    – Funny and/or interesting tidbits about your pet
    – Your state/province/territory

  15. Kolchak Puggle
    Kolchak Puggle says:

    My little rescue pup is the sweetest thing and I couldn’t be happier with him! Thank you for reminding people how many great, baggage free pups are out there in shelters. Can’t wait to read more of your posts!

  16. Monica
    Monica says:

    It is so awesome to hear your story. She sounds like a WONDERFUL dog. I have to say, I was afraid to adopt before I started volunteering at the shelter. I am sure a lot of those dogs have issues that are not seen in a shelter environment… but these dogs are a LOT of fun. So thank you, for adopting.

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