The Truth: Dog Adoption is Work

Our first dog was purchased from a breeder as a scrappy 6-month-old puppy. He was the last of his litter and his picture on the internet was love at first sight. Sure we had to potty train him, but he came with no emotional baggage. He was secure, feisty, and ready to love.

The scrappy picture stolen from the internet that stole my heart with Simon.

This scrappy picture from the internet stole my heart.

Odi, on the other hand, is a completely different dog. We are probably his sixth placement, (wherever he started, pound, rescue group, adoptive family, rescue group, us). The family who adopted him before us returned him because he was taking their 3-year-old son’s toys. I can imagine it was more than just the toys.

I laugh that unlike Simon, Odi is an actual dog. He likes being outside, exploring, getting into trouble.

I laugh that unlike Simon, Odi is an actual dog. He likes being outside, exploring, getting into trouble.

Odi is a ball of energy in the mornings. He wants to play for hours. He has marked in our house. He chews. He scratches at invisible pests even though he has been flea-free for days. We’re helping his tummy overcome the stress of a new home with a bland diet of rice and boiled chicken fed four times daily. There was a moment on the beach yesterday where he looked around and did not recognize anyone. He bolted back toward the car, stopping to see if a stranger was anyone he knew by tapping her ankles with his paws. She looked startled, I got there just in time for him to turn and wag his tail. Thankfully he remembered me.

Put simply, Odi is work. Adopting a dog sounds so beautiful, a saved life, a happy home. And, it is these things, with time. But the work comes first. He offers so many glimmers of a wonderful companion. He plays with Simon without aggression, he sleeps happily in his crate, he is affectionate, calm with people, gentle. He gets Simon to move his butt off the couch. He plays fetch. He loves the backyard. Everyone who has met him has been in awe that we’ve only had him for such a short time, that such a happy, well-mannered dog was homeless.

He is amazing, but he also requires more work and patience than a dog who has never been abandoned. He hates getting in and out of cars. He refused to walk into Petsmart. One out of a hundred people makes him cower behind our legs as though we’ve crossed paths with an evil witch. He likes dogs the most. It is clear he has a history we will never fully understand.

Friends with similar stories give us hope, reassuring us their now well-adjusted dogs were no where near as calm after only a week. Odi is calm, I’ll give him that. I just have to admit I thought rescuing a dog would be a little easier. I don’t regret it and I’m sure his list of challenges is minor compared to many others like him. I’ve already fallen under his spell. He just requires more energy than our lazy little guy lying on the couch next to me. But, I guess that’s why we got him in the first place…

We're hopeful the love and consistency will pay off.

Odi is definitely special. We’re hopeful the love and consistency will pay off.

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4 thoughts on “The Truth: Dog Adoption is Work

  1. kingmidget says:

    We had two dogs that lived to seventeen or eighteen years of age. Those last couple of years were not fun. I wanted a break from dogs and didn’t get it. Within a month, we had a papillon from a rescue shelter. It had been rescued from a breeder that kept the dog in a cage for its first six months of life. We named her Slinky because how she slunk around. She bonded with my wife immediately, a little bit with my youngest son, and not at all with me. I could hold food out for her and she wouldn’t come to me. I could food on the floor and back up a few feet and she wouldn’t get the food. We “agreed” that Slinky was it, that we would not be getting a second dog. That agreement lasted about a year, when a stray showed up at my wife’s school. She, of course, brought it home. I referred to it as the visitor … like the least favorite aunt who won’t leave, if you know what I mean. Lamb Chop is the exact opposite of Slinky. I think she showed Slinky how to act like a dog and the walls started tumbling down. But, although Slinky is now more willing to interact with all of us and even strangers now, there is still something about Slinky. I can see it in how she stares at me and jumps at any sudden movement or noise. She will never be a “normal” dog.
    The biggest problem I have with these two dogs is that they bark constantly. I can’t walk into a room without them barking — it’s like I’m a threat in my own home. I am sooooooo done with dogs, at least this type of dog, and I used to be a dog person. Somewhere in the future, I’m going to have one of those big lumbering dogs that curls up next to you and is content with that.
    Enjoy your two.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Okay, you’ve shown me I really can’t complain! Odi is a cuddly love, he just has some quirks I’m not used to because Simon is so easy. I guess that’s what I have really learned from this process, every dog is very different. I’m sorry to hear yours have been so unenjoyable. I wouldn’t want dogs either if that were my experience!

  2. It sounds like you guys are doing a great job with him. Odi seems to have adjusted; I have a cat who I rescued off the street a few years ago, and it took her 5 years to sit near me.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Wow, five years is such loving patience! We’re still working on adjustment though… Yesterday we came home to a fairly chewed up chair in our living room. Our fault, I guess, for not preparing for this possibility… Worthwhile work, I keep reminding myself 😀

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