There is one thing all of the dogs featured below have in common; adopters who love them and who saw what made them special when so many others had passed them by. For the final post in our series on adopting a long-stay dog, (see: why you should, how to make it awesome when you do), we asked the adopters of a few of our favorite former long-stays to share their stories. Our hope is that they will inspire you to ask to meet the long-stay dogs when you go to a shelter or rescue to adopt. In the words of those who love them most, here are the stories of a few wonderful dogs who are finally home…
Melinda + Leroy
“I started looking for a dog to adopt around Xmas of 2012. I knew I wanted to adopt a medium-sized dog so I started looking on the shelter websites. Every dog I liked seemed to be associated with some organization outside of the shelter (e.g., Dogs Out Loud, Love-A-Bull, etc.). The first dog I investigated sounded like she might not be a good fit for my lifestyle so I kept looking. But now I focused exclusively on those dogs that were associated with these various groups because I loved what they were doing and that I could talk to someone who knew a lot about the dog I was interested in.
So after a couple of false starts, I asked about Leroy. I saw his pics with his giant head and floppy ears and was smitten. I was so excited about meeting him that I didn’t even wait to hear back but instead went out to meet him right away. It was love at first sight. And thankfully, the ladies at DOL thought it would be a good match too. It’s been a love affair ever since that first meeting. We went to a DOL class together before I made the official adoption and have continued classes for the 4 months we’ve been together. Leroy went through heartworm treatment and we’ll know in a couple months if he’s completely heartworm free. He teaches me something new everyday with the most important thing being how to be the best mom for him that I can be. I didn’t know that I could love anything as much as I do him.”
Laurie + Paris
“In February of 2011, I lost my girl Bella. She was born in a shelter and spent the first year of her life there. I adopted her in 2001 from a rescue who pulled her when her time at the shelter was up. Bella was my best friend for a very very long time. She was a fearful anxious girl who never really got past a lot of that, but she was sweet and loving and the light of my life. When I lost her, I was so heartbroken. I still am. I know Bella had a wonderful life, and it is through my life with Bella that I realized that there are so many dogs out there, wonderful loving friends for life, that have the capacity to live and thrive and love, but who might have a totally different (not so good) outcome if placed with a family that is not right for them. I remember looking at her and thinking about that many times, and being so thankful she was with me.
When Bella died, I really felt like I had no purpose, no reason to go home. Slowly I came to believe that if you rescue a dog, that dog will stay with you for as long as she needs you, and then, when you’ve done everything you can for each other, that sweet doggie will move on, to make room for another dog who needs you even more. Is that true? I don’t know, but I still believe it….
I started looking at dogs online and ended up on the Austin Pets Alive site. The first dog I saw was a girl named Paris. She was so beautiful, and looked so sad in the photo. They had her listed as a mastiff mix. I thought she would be huge and more dog than I could handle, so I kept looking. Six weeks after Bella died, I went to APA! to meet a girl named Hannah. Hannah was out for a run with a volunteer, so I asked the dog manager about Paris. He brought her out to meet me and she just stood there. Literally, just stood there. She wasn’t the huge girl I had imagined. She was just the right size and drop-dead gorgeous. He gave me a little info on her background. She had been adopted out as a puppy and then left in a back yard for a year and a half, neglected and not socialized. Her people returned her when she started ‘chewing on the house’. She was then adopted out again, and apparently not understood or treated well. Those adopters were asked to return her. When she came back, she was terrified, cowering in the corner and snarly towards the people who were there to help her. With a whole lot of time, and the love and patience of the staff and volunteers at APA!, she came back!
Paris needed a peaceful home with people who could be patient with her, I could see that the minute I met her. We talked a lot about Paris and Hannah that day. I remember Steve saying that they were both good dogs, but Paris would be harder to place. That was it. I knew she was going to be mine. She was the dog who needed me more.
Honestly, it had been such a short time since Bella’s death, I had some doubts about whether I should be adopting another dog. But I looked at that big ol’ head and jumped in. It was the best decision ever.
It takes time for a dog to be comfortable enough to emerge when they suddenly find themselves in a new home. This was true for Paris. The first night she was with us, she just stood there. Again, literally just stood there. The poor girl just didn’t know what to do.. In the middle of the night I woke up to find her (still) just standing there. She didn’t even know that she could lay down and go to sleep. This was the moment I fell in love with her. We slept together on the floor that night. Now she owns the bed and sometimes will begrudgingly make room for us in it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Over the past 2 years we have been lucky enough to get to know this silly wiggly girl. We could not love her more. From the moment she came in to the house, she was incredibly well behaved and always willing to go with the flow…. Oh mom, you want to go for a run? OK I’ll go with you. Oh mom, you want to take a nap? OK I’ll take one with you. Oh mom, you want me to get in my crate so you can leave? OK, I will….can I please just have some cookies when you go? Does that mean she’s perfect? No, but who is? She still has some residual affects from her past and she always will. This is just a part of who she is. It’s a part of her charm. She has battle scars but they don’t define who she is. She is the girl who remembers every single person who ever showed her kindness at APA! and rushes up to them when she sees them to cover them in slobbery kisses. She is the girl who wags her tail in joy so hard against my leg when her dad comes home that it hurts. She is the girl who loves to run free off leash at the park and joyfully takes in every sight and scent that is presented to her. I love this girl with all my heart. There is nothing on this planet that could ever change that.
Did she replace Bella? No, she didn’t. She just made my heart bigger. I am a better person because of Paris. Whatever I may have done for Paris pales in comparison to what she’s done for me.”
Crystal + Dudley
“A little black pittie, his faced covered in scars, looked out of his kennel with soulful, sweet eyes and gentle tail wags. Those eyes convinced me to take him out for a walk. Surely he’ll be as sweet as pie. As soon as the leash was on, he transformed from a sweet little wiggler into a tornado, stealing anything he could off the floor, throwing toys left and right, biting the leash, leaping higher than my head.
And that was how I met the legend that is Buddy Boy. Over the next few weeks, maybe even months, I worked with him. His refusal to learn “sit” still cracks me up. He was so full of life out of his kennel that you couldn’t help but laugh at his energy and happiness. The sad truth was that this made it very unlikely that he would be adopted. He was black, a pittie mix, ridiculously high energy, lacking manners and the scars on his face and body always brought questions- “Does he fight?” “Is he a bait dog?” Every time I took him out, I fell more and more in love with him. After his zoomies and playtime, he would be content to snuggle in my lap and rest his head on my shoulder. In those moments of quiet, I knew how much potential he had and he just needed someone to take a chance on him and – after a lot of convincing my husband that this was not a totally crazy idea – I adopted him.
It’s been over a year since Buddy Boy (who now goes by Dudley) came home. There have been challenges (crate training deserves its own blog post) and successes (leash walking champion) and I’m proud to say that the successes outweigh the challenges. We still are working on learning that squirrels are not going to cause the end of the world and that eating paper towels is not the best idea. The amount of love in this dog is truly astounding. He can melt away a bad day with his sweet kisses or snuggle into you when you need a good cry. He is happiness personified (dogified?). Dudley is currently helping our second foster dog learn how to be a dog and his bond with our first dog, Penny, is simply indescribable. He is a true people pleaser and is known to fall over from wiggling so hard when he meets a new person. Were there tricky times? Of course! But I wouldn’t trade them, or Dudley, for anything.”
Rene + Glory
“In early August 2011, I was volunteering at the APA facility on Manchaca. My little foster dog had been adopted that day. Several volunteers were sitting around the parking lot that night chatting about the day’s events. Someone came out with Glory on leash for her evening walk. She was 8 years old, heartworm positive, underweight, had demodex mange, a large hernia and a severe upper respiratory infection. Glory had already been at APA for 6 months. She was leash reactive with other dogs and tended to be bossy with most dogs when off leash (yep, she’s a humper).
Now, I had walked Glory several times while volunteering, but being an owner of 3 very small dogs, my plan was to only foster little dogs. But, that night, I decided to take Glory for a one night sleep over to give her a little break from the shelter. One of the other volunteers said, “You should take her all week!” Okay, we will see how it goes the first night and go from there. That night turned into a week, which turned into an agreement to foster her for a 30 day break. During that month, Glory was on medication to fight the respiratory infection and the demodex mange. Her infection was so severe, that it was still hanging on at the end of the month. So, I decided to keep her in foster until it cleared up 100%. So, fast forward through 10 months of foster…several unsuccessful meet and greets, OLR training, heartworm treatment, hernia surgery, discovery and removal of a malignant mammary tumor…and then APA contacted me to let me know that another volunteer wanted to make a video to help Glory get adopted. You can see it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BBt1mez8G8&feature=youtube_gdata_player.
Now, I already knew that I loved Glory, but I watched the video several times and realized what an important part of my life she had become, and there would be a big hole left if she was adopted out. Shortly after, Glory became my foster fail! Glory had all of the “strikes” against her for adoption – senior, dog reactive, heartworm positive and previous cancer. It’s been over a year since I adopted Glory, and there isn’t a single day that she doesn’t make me smile. On the occasions she wakes me up in the middle of the night and I want to be mad, it doesn’t work. She always ends up making me laugh. There isn’t a single day that I don’t experience and appreciate her unconditional love. Glory literally changed my life. Best ‘failure’ I’ve ever had!”
Gretchen + Cooper
“We met Cooper (the dog formally known as Dimple) at Austin Animal Center after feeling a little bit discouraged. Aaron and I had met a lot of dogs that day, and while so many were wonderful, none seemed to fit perfectly into what we were looking for. Even those who fit the right stats–weight, age, temperament–didn’t seem to fit with us. But then we met Cooper. Immediately, I was drawn to his big smile and his thin little body. He seemed more curious than the other dogs we had seen, and welcoming. We played with Cooper for five minutes before I told my boyfriend, “This is my dog.” I picked Cooper up to take him to his permanent home three days later.
Cooper has an extremely energetic personality, which translates to having a wide awake and ready to play pup within 5 seconds of waking him up, long before I’ve had my morning coffee. He brings energy and excitement to our lives, and after having a horribly abusive past, Cooper is more than content to play with his toys and cuddle while I eat breakfast. The rest of the day is a long pattern of cuddles, walks, play, and complaints about how I shouldn’t leave him while I go to work.
My boyfriend says that Cooper seemed to be surprised to be loved. It took him a while to come to grips with the fact that we were going to be there for him and love him despite his testing-the-waters behavior. But everyday, our relationship with Cooper continues to grow as his excitement for learning is never ending and he never ceases to make us smile.”
Samantha + Crosby
“When I first met Crosby in July 2011, you could see every bone in his spine and hips. He had been in the shelter for quite a few months and, despite starting out as a very social, upbeat, friendly guy, he wasn’t doing too well anymore. He was sad and depressed. I was convinced to foster him for just a few weeks, he just needed a little break.
It took a little time for him to believe that he was in his forever home and that he wasn’t going anywhere, but as soon as I brought him home I was hooked. I’ve never had a dog that was so appreciative and thankful and just so happy to be with a family again. When we go on walks or to the park he wants to make sure he doesn’t lose his human and never lets me out of his sight. He does everything and anything he can to please.
I’m now so in love with this dog and can’t imagine what I did before him. We do everything together. As I sit here typing this, he is curled up on the couch next to me, he always has to touch his human to ensure she isn’t going anywhere. I wish I was a better writer and could convey how much I love this dog with words but that’s one of the other great things about Crosby, I know he already knows.”
We are lucky enough to have known these dogs during their time at the shelter, and to be able to see first hand the change living in a home has brought to their lives.
They are incredibly lucky to have found such wonderful humans to love them. We also have to agree with the adopters that they are equally as lucky to have fallen in love with these very special canines.
Long-stay is just another phrase that gets tossed around in the human impulse to understand through labels. It, like other labels, tells us very little about an individual dog. The only certainty it brings is the knowledge that we are talking about a dog who has been waiting too long for a home. It doesn’t tell us size, shape, personality, or the wonderful things that make that dog unique. Those are the things we only get to discover when we toss the labels aside and look clearly at the dog in front of us. Leroy, Paris, Dudley, Glory, Cooper, and Crosby are hoping that you, like their awesome humans, will take the time to do just that.
Missed the first two parts in this series? Check ’em out!