Recently, my family celebrated the first ‘Gotcha Day’ (adoption day) of our Shelter Mutt, Grizzlie.
Reflecting on the year (an amazing one!) a couple comments from friends have me bamboozled.
The first one, about six months into our adoption year (when Grizz was about 8 months old), was from a friend who said, ‘see, that’s why I won’t adopt, you never know what you’re getting’.
The second comment was, ‘you got lucky with Grizz! He has a great personality’.
Let me explain my ‘bamboozlement’;
While searching for a dog, we had specific things we were looking for – here’s the list;
*A black dog. We know black dogs are subjected to longer adoption waits (or short ones as less adoptable dogs are often euthanized first) motivating us to bring one home. Read about Black Dog Syndrome
*We wanted a medium to large size dog. At the time, our two dogs at home were large – one of them not a ‘fan’ of small dogs.
*We wanted a male – having two females already, we knew this would create a less competitive (and calmer) home.
*We already had a strong alpha. Period. We were looking for a more submissive – less dominant dog. Lucy wouldn’t be giving up control without a fight – and who wants turmoil?!
*A puppy was our goal. Why? We thought our dogs would be more accepting of a puppy than a mature dog. However…
*Our two dogs (Lucy and Savannah) were 8 and 9 at the time – we didn’t want a hyper, attention demanding puppy.
*We had recently lost our dog, Marley. She was a flat-coated retriever mix and sweetest dog in the world. We weren’t trying to ‘replace’ her – but loving her personality and that of other Flat-Coated Retrievers, I began the search there.
As you can see, that’s quite a list – and not even a complete one. There were other smaller things on our radar, but none were considered ‘deal breakers’.
Searching nearby rescues and adoption sites, I saw a picture of Grizzlie. His foster name was ‘Bruno’. The description of him was ‘male Newfoundland Mix’. Huh. I thought carefully about our list.
‘Bruno’ was black, certainly fit the ‘medium to large’ criteria, male, 8 weeks old, and being Newfie was a positive (Flat Coated Retrievers come from a Black Lab/Newfie mix). That meant Bruno MAY have the same sweet (and more submissive) personality we hoped to find.
I immediately filled out an application for Bruno (a prerequisite for meeting him). Soon, I received a call and was told the paperwork looked good but someone from the shelter would come for a ‘home visit’ to make sure we would be a good fit for ‘Bruno’.
Filled with questions, I asked about Bruno’s personality. The woman told me he was in foster and she would pass along my questions.
In the foster home, Bruno was with two sisters. The females were rambunctious and often wrestled and played hard. Bruno would sit back, watch and occasionally join in – but when his sisters became more aggressive – he retreated to the sidelines to spectate.
Bruno loved the foster families’ older dog and gravitated towards the human family members.
He sounded WONDERFUL!
The real test was meeting Bruno at an adoption event. We brought Lucy to gage her response as well. I tried not to get too excited – this wasn’t the first black shelter dog we met during our search. Previously, we met a sweet shelter Lab mix who was submissive but also timid and a bit scared – not a good fit for our crazy house full of kids and other dogs.
Is it cliché to say meeting Grizzlie, AKA Bruno, was love at first sight? YES! (But True)
Grizzlie melted into my arms when I picked him up, licking my face. When I put him down, he was curious, playful and sweet. Lucy ignored him but allowed him to sniff and run around her. This was her way to communicate ‘Just remember I’m the boss but…okay’.
We played with Grizzlie and hung out with him while filling out more paperwork. We watched him interact with people, other dogs and his environment – taking in his reactions.
When we brought Grizzlie home with us – we did so with certainty.
Back to my friend’s comments.
The first being, “See, that’s why I won’t adopt, you never know what you’re getting’.
Yes, we were told Grizzlie was a Newfie mix. However, he stopped gaining weight at 50 lbs. Curious, we ordered a DNA test. He’s Chow, Lab, Hound, Australian Cattle Dog, Collie and 30% unidentifiable mix of greatness. No Newf.
My friend assumed I was disappointed not to have a Newfoundland. However, if you look at the list I carefully made before our adoption, NOTHING said, “Hey, this dog must be a Newfie.” In fact, if that was the case, we would have simply contacted a Newfoundland RESCUE.
Grizz is everything we were looking for and more!
The second comment equally surprises me, ‘you got so lucky with Grizz! He has a great personality’.
When we were considering adoption, making our list, asking specific questions of the foster family and making sure the human AND canine members of our family met Grizzlie before deciding, we weren’t relying on ‘luck’, as much as making an educated decision.
We feel blessed Grizz was in a wonderful, loving foster home (even if it was for a short while) They communicated with us about his personality and answered our questions, helping us to make the right decision for everyone involved.
Grizzlie has made each day a brighter one because he’s in it. We celebrate his ‘Gotcha Day’ looking forward to many more wonderful years together!