We found our Roxy in a rescue shelter in rural Pennsylvania.
Our last dog, Baxter, was a rescue dog and we had fallen in love with him over six years ago. His death came as a shock. So after about a week of somber mourning, the kids and I decided that we might want to look for another rescue.
The kids spent hours and hours combing through online descriptions of large dogs, small dogs, white dogs, hairy dogs, yappy dogs, older dogs, and it went on and on. I asked that they narrow the search to just a handful of dogs and from there to pick two because deep down inside, I knew I would fall in love with the first one I met.
Just about three weeks to the day after we lost Baxter, we decided to fill out the online background information and make an appointment to bring our little Shih Tzu, Poppet, to meet the new rescue dog. The rescue shelter is tucked in among the farms of rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania. An emu greets all visitors at the top of the driveway, and the driveway is littered with wary roosters, rescued from farmer wannabes like us. Cats roam in and out of the various buildings which house hay and other supplies for the rescued goats, sheep, and other animals perambulating about the farm.
Poppet and the rescue dog that was brought out ignored each other in the little park outside used to introduce families to adoptee pets. Both dogs played with the various balls and fetchy things found in the yard. But what we noticed is that the new dog didn't attack Poppet, which we were worried about because Baxter would flip our poor little dog over and bark and snarl at her whenever food was involved.
Once inside the building, we were asked to sit with the new rescue dog and I noticed that as each of my kids tried to pet her and interact with her, she would not look them in the eyes. As my wife was scratching the rescue dog’s ears, and I sat to the side, feeling guilty about wanting a dog to replace the one we had just lost, Roxy came over and licked my hand.
My wife turned to me and asked, "That's it isn't it?"
I replied, "I suppose."
Skinny, skittish, shy, and a big drinker, she didn't interact very well when we first brought her home. She would not look any of us in the eyes. She wouldn't finish her dog food in the morning, which meant we were feeding her twice a day. She had accidents all over the house, even though we live on a farm and had her outside frequently.
But slowly over a ten-week period, we started to witness changes. For one thing, she has so much energy she can barely contain herself when I come home from work. She greets me with a crazy, rambunctious ritual. She leaps up about ten times non-stop, then spins on the floor, yelps, rolls over, leaps again…then goes off to play with a squeaky dog toy.
She will sit when asked to sit. She will walk with me and keep me in sight. She leaps up on the bed in the morning elated that we woke. And now…she looks at us in the eyes.
As a veterinarian, my wife has given her a thorough exam. We found that at some time in her past, Roxy had bad ear infections, because her outer ears are filled with scars and broken cartilage. We can also tell she was abused at some point. We found a BB lodged in her chest, and you only have to raise your voice an octave before she cowers in the corner.
Roxy is very different from our last dog. She is small, weighing about 35 pounds; he was a ninety-pound bruiser. She yelps; he barked. She spins on the floor; he wouldn't. She comes when called; he would give me that 'Yeah, not today’ look. She actually smiles when I come home, showing her upper front teeth. He greeted me by swinging his tail in circles. He barked at everyone and every truck that drove past; Roxy doesn't. In fact, she's actually fearful of the garbage truck. He was white and a little brown; she's all black with a tiny white beard. She purrs when you scratch her ears. He would look at you with eyes that pleaded, 'Are you done yet?' The differences can go on and on…
Knowing that we rescued a dog that truly needed rescuing has done much to heal the hurt of losing our last dog. And finding a dog that is so different than the one we lost, has helped fill the hole left by his sudden departure. I never grew up with dogs. My father had been badly hurt in an accident that was blamed on his dog, ending any desire to ever have another one. But after having such a positive and loving experience for six years with Baxter, and then finding and rescuing Roxy, who has been an absolutely delightful addition to our family, I'm a happy convert. I encourage everyone with a little room in their heart and in their home to think about adopting a puppy or dog in need.