I have a dear friend in Connecticut that was with me on my last scuba diving trip. It was the first time I had seen her in several years, and we enjoyed catching up. Since I am such an animal lover, she knew the first thing I would want to know about were her dogs. I asked her if I could share her story, because it represents so much of what we all go through when we have pets: joy, routine, heartbreak, and the decision to go through it all again!
I had Max, my Shih-Tzu/Maltese mix, for almost 16 years when he passed away. Life felt empty without him following me around the house, barking at people walking down the street, even sleeping next to me on the bed. I was sad.
Initially, I thought I would wait quite a while before getting another dog. Then I thought about what I had with Max. We had bonded. It was then I realized that my love for Max didn’t end when he took his last breath. It was still very much alive and there were thousands of other dogs who deserved loving homes. I wasn’t replacing Max by getting another dog. I was spreading the joy and love he brought into my life.
I decided to get another dog about three weeks after Max passed. I wanted a rescue. As I scanned Petfinder for my new dog, I came across a two-year-old red-headed Sheltie mix named Foxy. She had been rescued by a woman who found her in a shelter, pregnant, and about to be euthanized. The woman had taken her into foster care, helped Foxy have her puppies, and now Foxy was ready for a forever home.
Two weeks later, Foxy rode a pet transport up the East Coast with other dogs who had found families in New England. She was home. The first thing I noticed was she had energy. Compared to Max, who had slowed down considerably in his last few years, Foxy was ready to power a city with all her extra energy!
That first weekend we must have gone on 10 or 12 walks just trying to get her to calm down. One of my friends who had owned a string of Shelties told me she would settle in. She was right. Foxy settled into a routine, but still needed hours of attention playing ball, taking walks–it was as if she was making up for lost time. Pretty soon, it became clear Foxy needed a friend.
Going back to Petfinder’s website, I spotted Murphy, also at a Tennessee rescue. He was blonde, naturally bob-tailed, and I fell in love. Murphy traveled north on the pet transport soon thereafter.
To say Murphy is unique is an understatement. He has scraggly teeth, a slightly under-slung jaw, the ears of a terrier, a blue and pink tongue, and, as the vet said, resembles an ottoman with legs. He also has a heart of gold. He and Foxy have been fast friends ever since they laid eyes on each other that February day four years ago.
Max had been paper-trained, which was convenient for me. I didn’t have to worry about rushing home to take him outside if I was a bit late coming home from work; he would just go on the newspaper we put down.
I had the idea we could train our new dogs the same way. Instead of using newspaper, I would going to buy wee wee pads, which seemed more sanitary with their plastic backing. At first, Foxy and Murphy had other ideas about using the pads–they rarely went on them, preferring to hold it until I got home. Had they been puppies when we adopted them–like Max was–they may have taken to the pads earlier. But I eventually won the battle!
Murphy definitely needed some assistance in the dental department. His teeth were atrocious! Brushing was impossible. Then I saw some Greenies for dogs at the pet supply. “Are Greenies good for dogs?” I wondered, as I looked over the ingredients. As a stop-gap measure–until he would let me actually brush his teeth–I decided to buy a bag. He gobbled it up and wanted more. Murphy loves to eat–anything.
Would I recommend getting a rescue dog instead of buying a dog from a breeder? Absolutely! I am so glad I could save an animal from being euthanized. And the costs were reasonable, especially when the puppy was brought to me. The adoption fee was about $400 each, including transportation, spay and neuter, shots, and a vet check. That was all done before they came home.
Foxy and Murphy are the most loving dogs I have ever met. Foxy loves to sit on my lap, give hugs, and have me kiss the top of her head. I cannot figure out why she ended up in a shelter! Murphy, who turned out to be a Shih Tzu/Australian Shepherd, or “Shihtzulian Shepherd” as I call him, is a natural clown, a dog’s dog who is enjoying the good life. Max would be proud!
Photo by jjgwarren