Author’s Note: This is my third attempt at writing this. ID10T errors led to the downfall of earlier tries.
We are the proud parents of three beautiful rescue dogs. Bailey, Jessie and Rocky came into our lives in different ways. But they’ve all touched our hearts, tried our patience, made us laugh and will, I’m sure make us cry. It’s undeniable that our lives have been changed by them and, hopefully, for the better.
One Saturday in May of 2007, Julie said to me “Let’s go look at dogs.” I said, “Don’t tease me. If we go, we’re coming back with one.” So, off to the SPCA we went. I should add that the SPCA of Wake County in North Carolina is a great place. They take really good care of the animals, it’s a no kill shelter and a well maintained facility.
Jessie, or Opal as she was named at the time, was part of a litter that had been dropped off at the SPCA. And, they were going fast. I think she was one of the last two that hadn’t been adopted yet. We pretty much instantly fell in love. We named her Jessie after Jesse Owens. When we first met her, she was running around and was really quick. So, about a week or two later, after she was spayed and chipped, we brought her back to our new, lovely, fairly well appointed home. Then, the fun began…
We wanted to crate train her. I knew other people and professionals that had great success with that. I knew someone whose dog loved his crate – it was his safe haven when there was too much going on and he would go in and out as he pleased. This was not our Jessie. The crate was a struggle. She’d bark when she was in there, never wanted to go in and, against everything we had ever heard about crates, she’d poop in there. We’d come home to find her huddled in one corner of her crate while dog poop would be all over it and her. Many a night was spent cleaning carpet, crate, bedding and dog off. Good times. She also chewed….everything. Furniture, molding, newspapers, and so on. She got loose a couple of times and led us on merry chases through the neighborhood. But, lucky for her, she was also sweet and affectionate and, thankfully, she grew up and put most of that nonsense behind.
Next up, Missy
About 2 years ago, a friend of mine posted this picture on Facebook:
She said that this dog needed a home and soon. I shared the post, which my wife saw and added “If nobody adopts this dog, we will”. And, so, two days later, Missy was being brought to our house to meet us and Jessie and see how we all got along. She was understandably scared and was curled up on the floor of the back seat of the car (something she still does). We don’t know anything about her history, but are pretty well convinced that she was abused. It doesn’t take much to get her scurrying to a safe place and get in that same pose from the picture.
She’s also very sweet. She craves affection and, if you’re sitting or laying down, she wants to be next to you. She also hated the crate (we’re now 0-2 with dogs and crates). She also chewed stuff – similar lists to Jessie’s. It’s funny that she’ll also scrap with the other dogs – who are each twice her size.
Along came Rocky…
It was July 4th of 2013. I was out for a morning run and had actually just finished when I saw another runner standing and facing off against a dog. I could tell that she didn’t know the dog, it wasn’t on a leash, and she might need some help.
It’s a long story, so I’ll just hit the highlights – she had called the police and someone was on the way. I said I’d hang until they got here. Sheriff’s deputies pull up, tell us there’s not much they can do and tell us to call Memphis Animal Shelter. It’s 7:00 in the morning on the 4th of July. So, I tell her, go on her way, I live around the corner and will see if I can get the dog to our fenced in back yard.
She leaves, I coax this dog back to the house and into the back yard then the two dogs already residing there start freaking out. Which, of course, wakes my sleeping wife and I have to explain to her what’s going on. I let our two barking dogs out back and they meet this latest interloper. Julie and I start trying to figure out what to do. I make some phone calls, mostly fruitless. She hits the internet trying to find information. One thing is starting to become obvious – this dog isn’t used to people. He won’t come near either of us – we can’t even touch him. We make some flyers and I go around the area putting them up, but pretty sure it’s fruitless. I also finally coax him into a lead and take him to a nearby vet hospital to get him scanned for a chip. I also am pretty sure this is fruitless, which it was, but it was worth a try. So, back to the house and back to the back yard for him.
We leave him out there overnight – put out some food and water and try to keep the other two dogs settled in. The next morning, I get up to go to work and check on our guest. He’s not there, but there’s a dog sized hole in the fence. Oh good, something else to worry about. Turns out, he was still in the neighbor’s yard so I get him back to our property, cover the hole with a lawn chair and then head to work. Julie is staying at home and trying to find out about this dog. She learns that he’s been seen around the Trinity Rd area, near the Shelby Farms Dog Park and some people have fed him, but he’s a loner. She also learns that our shelter in Memphis sucks – unlike the SPCA where we got Jessie from, this place is a kill shelter. Actually, it’s a kill quickly shelter. I don’t know if they’re good or bad people that work there (probably some of both), but they deal with a lot of strays and abandoned pets. I think that says as much about the people in this area as it does the people who work at the shelter. A message to people in the Memphis area: Spay or neuter your pets you stupid fucks. So, Julie finds out that basically this dog has a better chance of survival on his own than at the shelter. With tears in her eyes and a heavy heart, she opens the gate and lets him out.
Fast forward to the next weekend. I’m once again out for a run. I’m about a quarter mile from home and I notice that someone is having a yard sale. As I run by the home, I see a dog. Actually, I see the stray. I once again get him home and tell Julie he’s back in the backyard. We decide that, at the least, we’ll get him neutered and checked out and then take it from there – maybe just foster him until we can find a forever home for him. So, with more coaxing and after a call to a nearby vet who said they can take him for the weekend and then do the surgery on Monday, I get him into the car. We get to the office, off of Germantown Rd, get out of the car and he gets out of his leash and runs away. We tried to get him back, but he wouldn’t come near us and, eventually, he’s gone. We searched the area but couldn’t find any sign of him.
The next day, I’m once again out for a run, but this time, I’m not in the area and I didn’t find him roaming around. I am, however, in my car on my way home when Julie calls. “You’ll never guess who was in our driveway”, she says. “Uhmmm…?” “Rocky showed up out front”. We had named him Rocky because she said he has raccoon eyes. If you don’t get the reference, shame on you. Find it on YouTube. Plus, being a native Philadelphian, I’m all for Rocky.
So, he came back. The next day, I manage to actually get him into a vet’s office. They examine and neuter him and we get him back a couple of days later. It’s pretty obvious that there will be no fostering, we were going to keep him.
You will notice a pattern – crate, bad. Chewing up everything in sight – lots of fun!
This has gotten better. He also is a sweet dog. He’s gotten over the whole “won’t come near us” thing. He’s the guardian of the house. He’ll wander around at night, making sure all is well. He follows us around if we go out of a room and he’s always ready to go outside for a walk or out back to check on things.
So, our family is complete. We have three sweet, loving dogs who get along well and bring some bit of joy to every day.