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.
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.
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…