Ok, so maybe not everyone would agree that Winnie is perfect.
- She goes a little crazy when people come to the house,
- She has a thing about putting her paw on you when she wants some attention (and those big paws HURT),
- She wags so hard she actually leaves bruises when her tail hits you,
- She whines and gets a little insane when she sees or hears us outside, and she isn’t being included in the fun, and
- She has an issue about feet touching her that makes her freak out a little, which is weird, since she has a pretty big shoe fetish.
But by our standards, Winnie is the perfect dog, especially for our family.
It all started two years ago when I saw a poster for this “kind-of-funny-looking” dog that needed a home. A local rescue organization, Critteraid, had been advertising all over town with posters, newspaper ads, at the farmer’s market – wherever they could – to try and find a home for Winnie. She had been in foster care for a number of months, but needed to find a family of her own. Winnie was about two years old, and had gone through quite a bit in her short life. She had ended up at the dog pound and her future was not looking promising, when Critteraid intervened.
We weren’t really looking to get another dog at the time, but Winnie’s picture kept popping up everywhere we went. I decided to call about her, and we set up a meeting at her foster home.
When we got there, we went outside to meet her. She came running full-speed toward us – this HUGE head and broad chest put a scare into all of us! Oh, I forgot to mention, Winnie is a Bull Mastiff cross, and at the time, she was about 80 lbs of lean muscle!
As it turned out, she was really sweet and just wanted to play, but we were all a little nervous after seeing her charge at us like that. We have had larger dogs before, but Winnie was solid, and even a little scary looking. This was such a very different experience than just getting a puppy. Puppies are so cute and cuddly, and you really don’t think about what they will look like when they are all grown up. With Winnie, we were looking at this full-grown BIG dog, who actually weighed more than my son at the time!
Considering this would affect the whole family, we decided we probably shouldn’t rush into a decision. If she wasn’t the right fit for our family, it could even be dangerous. Fortunately, her foster mom had been really working with her, and had not seen any aggression or other issues (other than she might not be so great to have around small animals, or even small children due to her size).
So, we did something we almost never do, and went home to think about if this would work for us. We researched her breed, and spent the next couple days talking about whether or not we should adopt Winnie.
As you can probably tell by the name of this post, we DID decide that we were going to adopt Winnie, and the whole family was on-board. We didn’t entirely know what to expect, but we were as prepared as we could be.
We contacted Critteraid (who, by the way, were thrilled), and they arranged a site visit with us, to make sure Winnie would be going to a good home too.
Just a heads up for those of you considering adopting an animal, there is a little more to it than just bringing home your new family member.
- You will need to fill out an application form.
- You may need to have references.
- You will have to provide a safe home environment (and in the case of a dog such as Winnie, a fenced yard).
- You really should research the type of dog you are wanting, making sure the breed would be well-suited to your home and lifestyle (and make sure you can provide the exercise, food, vet care, and other things your new family member will need. Trust me, these things are not cheap!).
- And there will probably be an adoption fee, that goes toward covering costs such as vaccinations and spay or neutering.
So, once we were approved, we set up a day for Winnie to come home. Her foster mom brought her out to our house. Winnie was a little nervous checking out her new digs, and we were still a little nervous around her. However, we had great plans on where and how things should go with her. We made sure we had an x-pen (an x-pen is a large eXercise pen, made of wire panels that clip together, and often has a door built into one of the panels), which she was used to being kept in at her foster home whenever they had to leave her alone, and we got a couple of extra dog beds, which we set out around the house. As it turned out, Winnie had different plans on what those first few weeks would be like! (be sure to read Part 2 of this post to see what we went through with our perfect dog!)