On June 5, 2014, my life changed for the better when the most perfect dog to ever walk the planet ran right into my heart and into my home. When I was a kid, I got my very first puppy, a collie named Jessie. I tragically lost her after six short years due to a wrongly diagnosed ear infection, and I still have not forgiven that veterinarian. I was heartbroken. After my family got over the loss of Jessie, we had to get a companion dog for our sheltie, Snowflake, so we rescued a lab mix puppy from a local shelter and Chase became a part of our family. Unfortunately, Snowflake and Chase didn't get along very well due to Chase's need for all of the humans' attention, and we ended up rehoming Chase to a place where he would be able to get as much attention as he needed.
So we lived the "one dog" life for a while, but we could tell Snowflake was lonely while my sister and I were at school and my parents were at work. After a lot of thinking about what to adopt, we decided to do a good deed and rescue an older dog from a shelter where it may not have any luck with getting adopted. Since I was the one who lost Jessie and then had to give up Chase, I got to pick out the dog. As I walked through the shelter, my heart broke to see all of the dogs with the sad looks in their eyes and to hear the sound of all of them barking, as if to say "please pick me!" My mom pointed me in the direction of some smaller, fluffy dogs, and I liked them, but I really wanted a dog I could do outdoor activities with and take to the barn where I rode horses. I also wanted a dog that wouldn't necessarily be the first one chosen, after all, we were trying to rescue one that was truly in need.
I walked near some larger dogs, and a few lab mixes and German shepherds nearly stole my heart, but I felt a dog panting, and looked up to see what was blowing all of that hot air on me. That's when I saw the dog. "That's the one!" I said excitedly to my mom and sister, who both looked pretty skeptical about the beagle I had just picked out. He had the happiest look on his face and when we were able to take him out to play with in an outdoor pen, he just seemed to be grinning from ear to ear.
I was dead set on bringing this dog home. He was perfect: so sweet, older, and very playful. The shelter was hosting an event that would allow free adoptions in about a week, so we elected to come back and officially fill out the adoption paperwork when it would be cheaper. Secretly, my mom was really wishing that I would change my mind. The research she had done on beagles was not making her want to bring one into the house. Every website said that they would be loud, overly rambunctious, and smelly.
During the week before the event, my mom kept asking me if I was sure about this dog. Honestly, there was just something in my gut telling me that he would be the perfect fit for our family. My mom predicted that he would bark too much or smell too bad and that we'd have to take him back to the shelter. I won't let that happen, I thought to myself, I will wash him every day and train him not to bark if I have to, I'm keeping this dog home with me.
The day rolled around, and we went to the shelter to fill out the adoption paperwork. I decided to name him Rowdy, and was elated to bring him home. We had to wait for him to be neutered and vaccinated, which added another week of waiting onto us. I picked up my paycheck and decided to go shopping and get a bunch of things that he would like. I picked out toys, frisbees, a new collar and leash, and of course a tag with his name and my phone number on it.
When it was finally time to pick him up to come to his forever home, I ran out of school, hopped in my car and drove straight to the shelter, so eager to pick up my new best friend. He smelled pretty bad, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt since he had just lived in a shelter for the past six months. The staff shared that they had found him tied up in a parking lot, starving and shaking. The kind man who escorted Rowdy out to me said with a tear in his eye, "Thank you for taking this dog. He's one of the best we have here and the most overlooked. Take good care of him." I decided from that second that I could not let that man down, I had to turn Rowdy into the perfect dog.
As it turns out, he already was the perfect dog. After a nice bath, I took him up to my room before we could properly introduce him to Snowflake. I found out in the first few seconds not only that he already knew how to sit and stay, but also that he loves human beds, and that was fine with me, I love a dog that will sleep in the bed with me. Before Rowdy, I had never met a dog that literally wagged his tail in his sleep. I could tell he was absolutely ecstatic to have a place to call home. He was also completely house trained, and the quietest dog I had ever met, he literally did not bark once.
When my mom got home from work, she immediately realized how special he was. While the websites talking about his breed may have said one thing, he proved that you should never judge a book by his cover. She quickly fell in love with Rowdy, as did our entire family. We were all a little nervous about how Snowflake would get along with him, but they hit it off as soon as they met.
They both seemed to have a smile on their faces after they were introduced. It was so heartwarming to see Rowdy so happy and healthy and to think about how very unhappy and unhealthy that he was for so very long. I knew that I had made the right choice, and my mom felt really guilty for trying to talk me out of adopting him. In fact, if you ask her about it today, she will deny ever saying one negative thing about Rowdy.
I'm off to college now, so he's at home with the rest of my family, but I definitely miss him the most and look forward to seeing him when I come home. Whenever I video chat with my sister, I make sure to talk to Rowdy for a few minutes. He may not be able to talk back, but I'm sure that he is listening.
After adopting this older, overlooked dog from my local animal shelter, I will honestly say that I will never purchase a dog from a breeder again. Not only is it much less expensive, it's super amazing to be able to have such a great feeling in your heart, knowing that you did a great deed for this animal. The motto of this long story? Adopt: don't shop. There are millions of unwanted, abused, scared, overlooked dogs and cats in shelters just waiting to find the perfect home. A lot of these dogs come to you completely house trained, or knowing commands or manners, and if not, a little TLC goes a long way.