We have adopted seven dogs. Our first one came from a friend who didn't want it anymore. Two of them were surrendered to a humane society and one came from a puppy mill. One was adopted from a no kill shelter and two were found on Craig list. As you can see we have adopted our dogs in many different ways.
Razor was our first rescue dog; he came to us in 1995 from an acquaintance who did not want him anymore. He was a seven month old chocolate Shar-pei with a huge hippo lips and a scab on his head, we later found out it was from him being hit in the head with a hammer. He came with a nylon rope tied around his neck, no collar, no food, no bed, and no bowls. He was with us until the age of twelve and that was not long enough. He was a spunky boy who loved to be silly. When we had our first child we were very nervous about how he would react as he was ten at that time and had never been raised around kids. My husband brought a blanket home from the hospital for him to smell and when I came home with the baby I let him sniff it from head to toe and then lick the baby from head to toe. That was all it took, from that day forward he considered it his job to watch that baby. Every baby picture we have Razor is in it too. He eventually passed away in September 2006 due to kidney failure at the age twelve.
Doug came next in 1996; he was a Shar-pei basset hound mix. He looked like a yellow Shar-pei with very short legs. He came from a puppy mill where he was getting pushed around by all of the other dogs since he was so scared of everything. The first day at our house he almost ate himself to death as our dogs are self feeders and he was so used to fighting for every bite of food. We called Doug our special needs dog as he would constantly bark at things that were not there and he was scared of everything. The other problem was we never fully potty trained him. Doug died at the age of two as the result of a tragedy. It took me years to get over his loss. Although he was a lot of work to have around his silly personality and goofy looks made him a total joy.
We adopted Marge in January 2002 at the age of six. We had Razor and Gabi also at that time and Marge was dog number three. She was a yellow saddle back Shar-pei who came from the humane society. She was dropped of there with a terrier by some kids who said that there house had been robbed and all of their Christmas presents stolen so now they have to get rid of their dogs. She found her place in our pack immediately. Razor who would not think twice about biting a dog who growled at him would let Marge do what ever she wanted. She never let Razor play with her so eventually they all worked it out where Gabi would stand in the middle and Razor and Marge would each play with Gabi. What we found our when we got Marge home is that she had extreme anxiety around cats. It took me two years to fully integrate her with my cats. You would never know it today as they all wrestle and play together. At the age of 12 she had to have knee surgery due to slipping on the ice. Both of her elbow joints are totally shot but we had her on arthritis medication that seemed to keep her comfortable. She remained top dog till the end. We tried to be a one dog household after Razor and Gabi died but Marge became more and more anxious. We started taking her with us everywhere but then she would just pace and never seemed relaxed. We adopted Mabel in May 2006 and Marge never asked to go with us again, she was happy. Marge survived way longer than anyone could imagine, Shar Peis are only suppose to live until 10 you know. On 7-26-11 Marge was finally laid to rest at the ripe old age of 14!
Mabel is a brindle red nose American Pit Bull and she was seven months old. We adopted her from a no kill shelter. She had severe non contagious mange that the shelter could not afford to treat and as a result she was almost totally bald. Most of their dogs lived there for the rest of their lives. In the beginning she would chew on anything including my dining room chairs. As a result Mabel was the first dog that we ever kenneled. She and Marge slept with us at night but we would kennel Mabel when we were gone. My husband is a long distance runner and we discovered that Pit Bulls are great running partners due to their high energy level. She has gone on several training runs over twenty miles long and she never gets worn out. We went hiking mountains in Colorado this summer and we brought Mabel with us. She hiked four mountains and loved it.
In October of 2007 my husband had been surfing on Craig’s list and kept seeing a Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Chow Chow mix that was six years old up for adoption. Given the breed we were worried he would either never get adopted or would end up in the wrong hands. My husband was nervous as he had never had a dog that big before. Sam weighed eighty-eight pounds and was solid muscle. The one condition on adopting him is he could not sleep in the bed and thankfully he never asked as I am not sure I could say no. He is the biggest baby ever, he ignores the cats and the kids could take food right out of his mouth. If anyone raises their voice he hides under the desk. Sam eventually was certified as a therapy dog. In the winter of 2010 he developed severe arthritis in his back which affected his ability to walk. Once he started falling down the stairs we knew it was time. Our family was all with him when we put him down on 2-26-11.
The newest addition to our family is Mildred. We adopted her in July 2008 at seven weeks old. It had been a long time since we had a puppy. Mildred came from the inner city where she was hiding under a table, she continues to be very scared of strangers and will even hide from us. She was not potty trained so she inherited Mabel’s kennel. By four months she was potty trained and now she also sleeps with us at night. We do still kennel her during the day if we are gone due to her chewing. She is a black and white Irish Staffordshire Terrier. She likes to snuggle like you would not believe. She is the only one who would not leave Marge alone. Marge was used to letting out a growl and then everyone behaves, not Mildred. Mildred just keeps jumping on her and biting her and trying to play and Marge had no idea what to do except to growl louder.
We have been fostering for Milwaukee Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC) since May 2011, what a rewarding experience. As soon as one dog gets adopted we bring in another and start the socializtion, potty training, and leash training all over again. Our kids, dogs and even our two cats help to socialize and train our fosters.
Adopting/rescuing a dog is the most rewarding way to get a dog. We could not enjoy our dogs more. When it is time it is hard to see them go, the only up side is it gives us the opportunity to save anther life.
The situation for most homeless dogs could have been avoided if there had been better planning. Many people give up their dogs because they thought it was a good idea at the time but then they got sick of it, they did not realize how much work a dog is, or they simply did not train the dog properly and there were unwilling to live with its bad behavior. Some situations are unavoidable, for example death of a family member or a serious illness to the dog’s owner.
We have been around the dog rescue/adoption world for about 15 years and let me say most dogs become homeless because of poor plannng and lack of understanding in what it takes to be a responsible dog owner.