Monday, December 16, 2013

the story of madeira {the beast}

My runner man and I had always talked about getting a dog, just like the way we talked about having a baby.  When we decide it's time, we'll complete steps 1, 2 & 3, and then TA-DA.  It will be. 

For so many, having a baby really isn't much more than making a simple decision to stop preventing and doing the baby dance more often.  

For us, adopting a dog has been a much easier process.  And since I share pictures on instagram and talk about our dog a lot on social media, I'm excited to share her story.  If any of you are dog-lovers or are considering adopting from a rescue agency, I think you'll be excited too. 

It started with a decision that it was time to get a dog.  We wavered between a newly-born puppy and an older rescue for a lot of different reasons:

Everyone told us that with puppies, you can start fresh and train them according to your household routine and schedule.  There is not much "re-training" to do {as you would with a rescue}, but you will of course need a whole-lot-a-patience to handle the challenges of potty training, teaching obedience commands, teaching your puppy not to eat your shoes and clothes and just about everything she sees, etc.  But of course, puppies are so stinkin' cute that none of the above really even matters.  They snuggle up in your arms and you forget all about your favorite shoes and your new rug.  Puppies are that adorable. 

Older rescue dogs can be just as adorable.  But we were told that sometimes, there is no guarantee what you will get.  Many rescue agencies receive dogs that have been abused, abandoned in horrific circumstances, or left to wander the streets and fend for themselves.  Agencies can often only provide guestimations about the age, breed, or history of a rescue.  Some rescue dogs can be be anxious, distant, depressed, or unpredictable.  Some have been trained by loving foster families, while others have bad habits that need to be broken.  It can be challenging to un-train and re-train an older dog who is set in her ways.  But, it is by no means impossible.

We learned quickly that when you adopt a rescue, you are not only providing a loving home for a dog in need.  You are supporting the agency that rescues animals from heartbreaking situations.  We have all seen the commercials.  There are really animals that are found in those terrible-awful situations, and there are people who work and volunteer their time to help.  When you adopt a rescue, you are joining in the battle. 

After doing some research about puppy mills, we decided against a few popular websites whose breeders were ready to hand over their precious newly-borns for thirty-percent-off the listing price in the ad.  It felt like we were buying a used car with no insurance and an engine that would explode once we got five miles down the road.  It didn't sit well with us, so we explored alternate options. 

Here in Maryland, there are a lot of animal rescue agencies that are doing amazing work.  There are places like the Lab Rescue of the LRCPAdopt a PetThe Maryland SPCA, etc.

We decided to submit an application to K-9 Lifesavers, an agency that rescues dogs of all ages and breeds and hosts weekly adoption events where you can meet the dogs in person.  Our adoption counselor {volunteering her time for the cause} was prompt, responsive and oh-so-kind.  She reviewed our application, conducted a phone interview with us, and verified that our house and daily routine was adequate to handle a dog.  We sent her a few names from the agency's Meet the K-9's online listings and waited to hear back about which dogs might be a good fit for our city dwelling lifestyle.

We went to our first adoption event a week or so later, never expecting to bring a dog home.  We thought we were just browsing, considering our options, thinking it over.

The adoption event felt crazy and overwhelming.  Within minutes of registering, I approached the foster-mama with the newly-born plott hound mix puppies and she handed me a brindle baby Gidget, the only girl left in the litter.  I cuddled with baby Gidget for about fifteen minutes while families hovered around me, waiting for me to make up my mind if this was the dog we were going to adopt.  I told my runner-man that even though she was the-cutest-thing-I-ever-did-see, I wasn't sure I could handle the demands of a puppy.  I knew if I handed her over, that was it;  the crazy-hovering-masses would snatch her up.  And they did. 

We were fine with that, and in turn, decided to get to know some of the older dogs at the event.  

There was the insanely hyper german shepherd-mix {who I could barely contain on a gentle leader leash}, the shy catahoula leopard mix {a cutie in my book, but not the one}, and few others here and there.

And then, there was Raven. 

The somewhat-shy, but adorable and affectionate lab {mixed-with-something} who had been rescued from a high-kill shelter in Tennessee.  She had a shiny black coat with splotches of white on her belly and legs, making it look like she was wearing white boots.  Raven's foster-mama told us she was somewhere between one and two {or maybe three} years old, and that she loves to swim and run around and play.  She hugged us and cried when we told her we wanted to take Raven home.

Raven licked my runner-man on the cheek.  And that just about sealed the deal.  So we signed the paperwork, paid the adoption fees, bought her tons of supplies, and gave her a new name:

Madeira {pronounced muh-deer-uh} -- the name of the first street we lived on together here in the city.

Then, we brought her home and made a city dweller out of her.

It has been an amazing almost-six-months with our rescue.  She is the perfect addition to our family and keeps us laughing always.  We have had our 'ups' and 'downs' {like when she decided to EAT the Christmas lights the other day!} and we have learned a lot since adopting her.  I hope to be able to share more about this {and many other hilarious stories} on the blog in the future.

Stay tuned!

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