This weekend we celebrated Olive’s Gotcha Day–the day we officially adopted her and she came to live in our home.
Anyone who knows or follows me likely knows that I’m a big advocate for animal rescue. Olive is our fourth dog. All were rescues and all have been amazing and different and joyful.
Long-time followers of the blog know that our last dog, Buford, passed away in September 2019. He was incredible. And it was a difficult loss. While I knew we would be getting another dog, I also knew it would be awhile.
And then March 2020 and a worldwide pandemic. And suddenly we were ready. There seemed like no better time to get a dog–we were home, we had lots of time on our hands, and we needed something, or someone, to brighten our days. But so did, apparently, everyone else.
While there was and, sadly, will always be, plenty of dogs in need of homes, they were going fast and I became obsessed. Obsessed with contacting shelters and tracking new dogs on PetFinder and searching for the next little beast willing to make our home theirs.
It was in April that I came across Olive (then named Destiny) on the Rescue Dogs Rock website. Jessica Alvarez had recently adopted her dog Sydney from the rescue and spoke highly of them. I don’t think any dog lover will be surprised to know that it was those crazy ears and spot that had me at woof.
Olive was rescued from an abusive home in Texas, ironically, in September 2019, around the same time, we lost Buford. Injured and left untreated after being hit by a car, the rescue took her out of the home and brought her to New Jersey where she lived with a wonderful foster family for six months. I can never repay this family for what they gave her. Weekly they drove her to physical therapy treatments to heal a broken pelvis and leg and gave her the love and support she needed to become the dog we know today. She still drags her leg slightly when tired, but never when it’s time to run, jump or when she has the zoomies.
Like any dog and, truly, any human, Olive came with a story. One we’ll never fully know, but can glean hints about from her behavior.
When we first got her, Olive and I would spend hours walking. She was always good on the leash but afraid of everything–trucks with trailers, people, bicycles, and definitely other dogs. And her fear was intense. She would leap and jump, barking and yelping while at least two feet off the air. She was strong and nuts. I don’t miss those days.
Now our walks are mostly calm. She stops to watch bicycles and trucks and even wags her tail at people (she was always great with people invited into our home–especially kids). But dogs, especially those on leash or barking, still cause her hackles to rise and fear barking and yelping. Thankfully the leaping in the air has stopped.
Until last month. After hiring a behavior coach and trying various techniques of our own as well as of the coach’s Olive and I had a breakthrough. Finally, with a lot of work, she was able to sit by my side and watch, with only the slightest bit of tension and fear, a dog walk by (from the opposite side of the street).
We still have work to do, but Olive is quickly becoming the dog I knew she could be. She’s loving, goofy, silly, and at some point I know she’s going to have dog friends too.
Adopt Don’t Shop
I often hear the reason people don’t want to adopt is because they, “want to know what they’re getting.” I’ve met a lot of dogs in my life and I can pretty much guarantee that none of those dog owners really knew what they were getting. No matter how specific the breeder was.
I am so grateful for every dog who has ever made our home theirs, that they slowly calmed, settled, and became the dogs I saw when I first picked them out from a shelter. And I’m so grateful for all the wonderful people who work in animal shelters to find these fabulous dogs homes.
Especially the foster family who did so much for Olive when she needed it most and then, in the middle of a pandemic, were willing to drive her to our house and leave her behind. That moment will forever bring tears to my eyes.