Monday, October 10, 2016

How to buy happiness (that isn't a book)

October is National Adopt A Shelter Dog Month. In an effort to help spread awareness and encourage everyone to consider adoption first, I (Kimberly) thought I'd share my own shelter dog story. Promise you're going to love it!

I grew up with dogs, so did my husband. It wasn't even a question of if, but WHEN we would adopt a dog. We had only been married for a couple months when I started looking online at local rescues. We weren't picky about what we wanted. Just something that would be a good fit for our townhome and our full time schedules. (Smallish, not a puppy)

After a few unsuccessful adoption fairs we decided to check out the Humane Society of Utah. Before we drove out there we looked at their website to see who was available for adoption. The only one that stood out was Copper. He looked cute in his picture, was described as friendly and great with pets and kids.

When we got to HSU we asked about him first. That "small, sweet dog"? Over 50 pounds, difficult to control, completely uninterested in us, only wanted to bark at everything that moved. While I'm sure he was the perfect fit for someone else, he would have been miserable with us. (We have a small backyard. He was known to scale fences over 6ft.)

So we went back to prowling the isles.

Top: The day after we adopted her
Bottom: One year later.
So much healthier
I walked past a kennel that I at first thought was empty, I quickly backtracked when I realized there was a small dog sitting in the back. When I stopped by the door she stood up and walked up next to the door. She had a small, barely healed sore on her nose. She was silent. Every kennel around me was practically vibrating with its occupants' enthusiastic greetings.

I opened the door and crouched down, ready to catch her if she ran out. Instead, she walked directly to me and put her paw on my knee.

Just like that, I fell in love. I knew at that moment I wanted her to be ours. I picked her up and she immediately curled into me, cuddling close. Still, I was nervous. What if she was aggressive around other animals? Or other people? We grabbed a leash and took her outside to play.

She was perfect. She walked right next to me, every few seconds she'd glance back, as if she was checking to see if we were still there. When we got to the enclosed dog run we took her off her leash to play. Instead of charging the fence to bark at the other dogs, she ran right back to us. If we knelt, she'd roll on her back for belly rubs. She completely ignored the ball. I picked her up again and just like before, she cuddled into me.

I looked directly at my husband, "She's ours."

"Are you sur--"
I plopped her into his arms and she curled into him, just as she had done with me.
Then I watched him fall in love.
That was it. She was ours.

We walked her back into the lobby and I went right up to the desk and told them we wanted to adopt her. They told us what little history they knew about her. She was 7 months old, had been at HSU for two weeks. Before that she'd been in a shelter in California for over a month. She'd spent almost half of her short life in a kennel.

The adoption process was easier, but also more complicated than I had imagined. We had an interview as well as a contract, promising that we would treat her right. The questions ranged from "do you know how to train a dog" to "No scientific experiments". Apparently we passed and didn't come across as animal abusers because about an hour later we were walking out the door, a family of three.
Left: At the shelter Right: First night at home
On the way home she got a new name. In the shelter she'd been called "Annie". She didn't respond to it, and we already had an Aunt Annie and a family friend's dog was also called Annie. So, in the spirit of one of my other favorite orphans, she became Cordelia. (Anne of Green Gables, anyone?)

We stopped at on our way home and bought all the essentials. Dog dishes, food, treats, a collar, leash, puppy packet, dog shampoo, blanket, dog bed... (You're welcome, Petsmart).

That night we bathed her, fed her, and fixed up the kennel so she'd be comfy overnight. We had no sooner closed the door on the crate when  she started to freak out. Whining, scratching, shoving her nose into the wires on the doors. We pulled her out as quickly as we could. The sore on her nose had reopened and was bleeding. (Which explained what had happened in the first place.)
Instead we put her on the bed. She immediately settled down and went to sleep. She has slept there every night since.

The next several months we learned a lot.

Some of the damage.
We were planning on tiling
this anyway...
First, she was actually a pure bred Jack Russell Terrier, instead of the Chihuahua mix the shelter had told us she was. (We weren't picky about breed!)

She had horrible separation anxiety. RIP blinds, carpet, and shoes...

She didn't know how to play. We had to teach her. She quickly discovered that her favorite toy is a squeaky ball

She had issues with food. She would cower if we startled her and we wouldn't be able to get her to eat again for several hours.

She loves anything soft. I guess after spending so much time sleeping on a hard floor in a shelter she has to make up for lost time.

She rarely makes a sound, but will give a short howl of excitement when we get home.

She is very protective of anyone she has deemed to be "hers". Us, my nieces and nephews, my neighbor... She once chased a much larger dog off the block because he was too close to the little girl next door. (Cordelia is a whopping 11 pounds, this other dog was around 40.)

She no longer knocks over the trashcan when we leave it out, instead, she picks what she wants out of the top. 
This is what I saw for a
straight 48 hours when
I was really sick.
Always so concerned.

She is the laziest Jack Russell I've ever seen. She'll sleep past 10am if you let her, and is done for the day by 8pm.

She loves people, and I love seeing her charm even the grumpiest of people.

We worked through our problems and learned how to make her the happiest we could. In return, she has been one of the best parts of our lives. 

If you actually read this, you deserve a cookie. Have you ever adopted a pet? What's YOUR story? Please share in the comments below! I've included some links to help you find your own rescue baby.

The Humane Society of Utah
American Humane


  1. brb crying

    I LOVED your story!!! So happy Cordelia has you guys!

    As you know we adopted Finn and it was that same feeling of HE'S OURS. We had looked sooo many times and had been at the SPCA every weekend looking and loved a bunch but never one that we were 100% on plus we found out (after missing out on a pit bull puppy we fell in LOVE with) that we weren't allowed to have a pit bull.

    Then we checked out a local rescue and it was so much different than the shelter. All the dogs were playing together. We saw a cute puppy but Will kind of was unsure if he really WANTED a puppy after thinking about it and then another cute pit bull who were trying to figure out how we could get away with the breed restriction....and then in walked Finn. He had been out on a walk when we got there and he came over and was so sweet and immediately shoved his head in my purse (we later learned its because he's the nosiest little dude with quite the nose) and he was just so fun. We just knew. We filled out the papers and then found out later that day we were approved and went and picked him up the next day. He curled up in my lap on the way home and fell asleep and then when we got home he was just so GOOD and PERFECT. Immediately became our shadow. We've had some little issues like not pulling me all over on a leash and him jumping all over and him barking at people who come close to us after a few months (he got protective of me I think haha) but he's gotten so much better and is such a perfect dog for us. Funny that we thought we could handle a big dog in our apartment but as a medium dog he's definitely ALLLLL the dog we needed and he was said to be 1-2 years old (which the vet agreed) and that was the perfect age for us.

    After we got him I tried to figure out about him and through some digging we found that he was brought in as a stray in a really not-so-nice part of Philly. Nobody ever came to get him. His picture from the original shelter he was at before the rescue looked SO SAD. I still cry when I think about it.

    It's been an adventure (especially with the medical issues we've had with him recently) but this year has been the best with him.

    1. Rescue babies are the best! I'm so relieved and happy for you that Finn is doing better. I'm so happy you found each other. <3

  2. What a wonderful story. And such a sweet pup. While Dogs aren't for me and my family we are looking into adopting a cat in the near future.
    I love dogs, I just don't have time to train one, and cats are easier to house train than a dog.

    1. Pets are wonderful, no matter which species you like best! I hope you find the perfect fit for you.

  3. :) I love this!! Back in August I posted our own adoption story for my pup's adoptionversary and it's pretty much EXACTLY the same as yours: our girl wasn't the dog we initially planned on seeing and separation anxiety was oh so real (the previous owners of our house had a cat and so our basement door has a cat door...our pup was so nervous she managed to squeeze her 50lb body through a CAT DOOR). She had only been at our local shelter for a week and came from a kill shelter a few counties over. I'm not sure why anyone would want to get rid of her, but I'm so thankful she came into our lives. ♥ she's without a doubt my baby!

  4. Ahh your dog is the cutest! I'm currently unable to get a pet, parents don't want one, but the second I can get one gonna start looking.

  5. We rescued one of our cats back in 2005. We were just looking on a Friday afternoon when my husband and children said, "I want this cat." "This cat" was, according to the people at the animal shelter, one and a half years old, and we had seen it for only a few minutes. We decided to think about it and went out to the car. It was just before closing time before a three day weekend. My husband said something about really liking that cat, and I told him to go ask if they would hold it for us. He did, came back, and said, "They're not sure she'll still be there on Tuesday."
    Well, that settled it. She came home with us.
    She was patient with the littles and a wonderful cat. If the animal shelter calculations were correct, she was about twelve and a half when she walked out the door this spring and disappeared. We are heartbroken and still looking. All of our cats have been rescues--one many years ago that we took when someone was going to take it to the pound if we didn't take it in followed my husband everywhere, and was definitely his cat. We also adopted a rescue kitten last summer, so he keeps us on our toes. Thank you for sharing--love it when pets are rescued and loved!

  6. So sweet! My husband's severe allergies (even after years of shots) preclude pet ownership for us, but I was raised with cats and dogs, including several who came home from various shelters (plus several cats who just showed up and moved in). I am so happy for you and your Cordelia that you found each other. (Love the name and its source!)

  7. Cordelia is so adorable, and sweet! I loled when I read about the trashcan- our little dog is the same when it comes to both trash cans and clothes hampers. Most of our animals have been rescues- including our two cats, Riley and Alabama. Pages, our Morkie, is the first non-humane society dog I've ever owned, and in a way she came to my rescue, arriving when I needed her the most. :)

  8. Thank you so much for this post! It made my day. I absolutely love dogs and I have read so many books on dog rescue. I have a whole page on my blog devoted to dog books. I will be reviewing one soon on Service Dogs. My whole Facebook account is of my shares of animal rescue shelters, stories, and photos. I have probably lost some Facebook friends! Have you ever read DOGTRIPPING by David Rosenfelt? I highly recommend it. Anyway, I have two dogs. Our second dog was never in a shelter but had 3 different families in 4 months and was on her way to a shelter. I went to pick her up at the house of her latest family and she was so skinny and they had her in the smallest crate I have ever seen. There was no way she could even turn around in it. I took her home and fed her. She had been only getting one meal a day! Our family fell in love with her instantly. Bella plops on your lap as soon as you sit down and loves to play. She is a jack russell bassett hound mix. Feel free to check out my blog to see some awesome dog books to read.

  9. She is so cute!

    My dogs are from breeders (one you can't find in rescue, the other two have serious health and temperament issues in the breed if you aren't careful), but my two cats are rescues. Foster failures, actually!

  10. She's a doll! And you all are super awesome for being patient and working through her issues with her. Y'all seem like a perfect match. Great story! I have two goldens both adopted from Golden Retriever rescue and both totally adorable and worth all the work!

  11. Such a sweet dog. :-)

    I grew up with both cats and dogs (busting the myth that cats and dogs don't get along), and when I moved to my current flat it was a bit in the grey zone of being allowed to have a pet. About 18 months ago it was a cat that started to hang out outside my flat (which is a basement flat), I ended up feeling a bit sorry for him and started feeding him. It's fair to say it didn't take long before the cat adopted me. I think he was abandoned or something by his previous owners, as he was really cuddly from the very first time I met him, and now he's spoiled rotten.

    I've had another cat earlier in my current flat, a small black kitten that was raised by a ferel (sp?) mother who I used to feed. Since I didn't manage to domesticate her when she was young(she was born by another "wild" cat), I really wanted to try and domesticate the little black kitten, who otherwise would have been a third generation ferel. I managed to do it, but the black kitten unfortunately disappered after roughly 8 month.

    Well, I can't deny I have a weak spot for animals, but in the option of being kind to them and feed a couple of strays versus being an animal abuser, it's basically a no-brainer what I would do. Crazy cat lady in training, maybe? :-P

  12. What a sweet story! Cordelia is adorable. :)

  13. That's a wonderful story! I'm so glad Cordelia found you.
    I worked briefly at our local humane society. We had a tiny kitten come in one day, way too little to be adopted, and one of her legs was injured. We were very full, and I was afraid she would be put down (because of her age and injury) to make space for more adoptable animals, so I fostered her.

    Her leg healed perfectly, she became a super sweet fluffy cuddle bug, and she stole my husband's heart. So after about five months as a foster baby, on our anniversary, she officially became part of our family.

  14. Wow such a lovely and heartbreaking story❤️ I had another kind of story including the animal shelter....

    First I got to tell you the story of his family before this happened. When I was like 6 'y mom got me a cat, Minoes, black and white care with a madonna spot and a half black nose. Such a sweetheart, she got four kittens a year later, one died in two weeks��, one we gave away, but had ran away a month later. And the two boys, looking the same we kept. Beauty and Beast, they couldn't have been named the other way around haha. Sadly, a few years later Beauty disappeared, it was said a cat kidnapper/murderer was around�� He was my cuddly cat. Beast was not liking me in those years, but Beauty always was at the window when I came down for breakfast and always wanted to cuddle with me. Until one day, he wasn't there anymore.

    But Beast grew on me since then and became my new cuddly buddy. Until a few years later, he too, disappeared... A year later, our neighbour calls my mom and says to look on the website of the local animal shelter to look for the cat they called Jacob. (Someone picked up my cat and brought him to the shelter to be there for a year...) My mom called me happily, I was about to give a presentation in college, and told me she's going to get Beast back. (So I did my presentation with happy puffy eyes and still got a 7,5/10) The shelter said he wasn't a cuddly cat and was very quiet. (He had two torn ears, a scar along his eye and the same eye being blind from fighting with other cats) So my mom walked in, he saw her and became excited and started to cuddle her like crazy. The shelter was convinced it was our cat and we could take him home. First thing after my classes I raced home and asked where my cat was. He was on my bed and cuddled for hours. He was the kind of cat that when I held up the blanket he would snuggle in with me and sleep against me.

    But sadly a few months later he went to look for his final resting place. But I was so happy to have him back for a while!! I still miss him even though it's five years later and I've got my two cat sons now, who I love so much!!

    I hope you, your husband and Cordelia have all the love and happiness in the world together!!


  15. Your story makes me smile. Thank you for sharing!

    At the end of January this year my husband and I finally decided that we could afford a dog and that now was the right time. The application process was intense, but we passed. :)

    The minute we walked in the door there was the cutest puppy that started hopping up and down in his kennel. The thing was, he didn't do that for anyone but us. We tried to pay attention to filling out the application but there he was in the corner of our eye. Other people would walk over to where he was but he always ignored them, eyes on us. BUT I originally wanted a dog that was at least a year old, and this was a 3 month old puppy! So we took a lap around the shelter looking at all the other dogs and we liked several but we couldn't get that guy out of our mind. So we went back around to where he was and he had calmed down and was just lying there, until we came up to the glass, then he got so excited again! So we met him and played with him for about a half hour and we were sold. He was crawling all over us and giving us kisses. We knew he was going to be the new addition to our family. He is one crazy big puppy (lab mix) but no matter how tiring he can be, we love him to pieces. Adopting a dog from a shelter is the best. He was originally from a kill shelter down south. So we have had some struggles, but he is always so loving and we have a routine down that seems to work for everyone. We just tire the crap out of him. :D

  16. I've always had cats, but last year I gave in to my husband's desire for a dog since I thought it was his turn for us to have the kind of pet he wanted. We wanted an older dog that wouldn't be a ton of work, and my husband very strongly wanted a lab. So we went to the shelter and of course ended up adopting a 1-year-old pit bull who is incredibly energetic and had a ton of behavioral problems. She had been found wandering the streets, skinny and covered in scabs, so the shelter didn't know her history. They thought she had been confined to a crate most of the time, which is probably correct since she didn't even know how to walk up and down stairs. She freaked out at other dogs, bit us, wasn't housebroken, and knew zero commands. Walking her was a nightmare because she pulled on the leash so badly and freaked out at every sound or distraction around her. We went through an obedience class, then sent her away to an intense board and train program for several weeks. Twice. Oh, she also had giardia when we got her so that had to be treated before she could be boarded so in the meantime we had to just endure her horrid behavior. There were times that we really seriously considered giving her up because she was more than we could handle and it was kind of wrecking our lives. However, she's always been incredibly adorable and obviously loves people and wants to be near us. A year later, her behavior has improved *immensely.* She still can't interact with other dogs and we have to avoid them on our walks, and she's still a little mouthy sometimes, but mostly she's pretty great to hang around with and fun to take on walks, and she has calmed down considerably (thank god for Prozac) and learned lots of commands and self-control. It's amazing to think about how much she has changed in this time. We used to refer to her as the hellbeast (and still do, but jokingly), but now she's pretty much like a normal dog and I get a lot of complements from neighbors about her good behavior. Neither of us knew much at all about dog training and have relied on professionals to help us and I'm incredibly grateful for everything they've done for us and for Petri. She's had an amazing transformation, and I give her a ton of credit for learning how to dog properly.

  17. Cordelia is sooo adorable. You definitely made my day :)


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