You may remember my dog, Marigold, who is more goat than Golden Retriever. (Might I remind you of the $2,000 raisins??) We had decided to look for a second dog to add to our family when Marigold turned 8, which she did in October.
I was really excited to get our next dog from the Pen Pals program. What’s Pen Pals, you ask?
Through a partnership with the Virginia Department of Corrections, inmates at Virginia correctional centers train and socialize rescue dogs with the guidance and instruction from two professional dog trainers. The Pen Pals program not only lowers the rate of euthanasia in Virginia’s city dog shelters, but also provides life skills to inmates.
So basically, a dog gets rescued. An inmate gets job skills. And I get a fully trained dog. Win-win-win, right?
And yet our timing was a little off because we couldn’t seem to find the right mix of smaller size-laid back personality-good with kids and other dogs all in one pooch. We were asking a lot and we were impatient.
We started looking at the Richmond SPCA. Between trips to the cat room to play with the kittens, we visited with dogs that we knew were friendly with kids and other dogs. We even met a couple that stole my heart or Peanut’s heart but none of the dogs called to all four of us.
Then last weekend we went to the local animal shelter. And as we were describing our laundry list of requirements, the nice man at the shelter raised a dubious eyebrow. The truth is, they just don’t know that much about the dogs that are in their care. Some are picked up as strays with no background info.
We decided to walk through the shelter anyway and see if any of the dogs felt right. We saw lots of big dogs: labs and pit bulls and huskies. I’ll admit, it’s hard not to be affected by the barking and the general air of desperation and anxiety.
But then we saw this pint-sized pooch wiggling his torso out of the opening at the bottom of his cage to get closer to Peanut.
Allow to me explain this dog to you. He is a little runt of a thing with an unfortunate face: bug eyes, an oddly upturned snout, and an underbite that would give Chuck’s bulldog a run for his money.
And when we met with him in the visiting room, he stunk to high heaven. This dog’s ears were in rough shape and he was covered in doggie dandruff. He was backward sneezing (which sounds a lot like a panic attack) and he peed on everything that was nailed down.
But he also jumped up on the couch and curled up with B and the kids.
He looked me right in the eye and licked my face. And he took treats from me and the kids with gentle exuberance.
So was I all that surprised when Peanut burst into tears when it was time to go?
But I was pretty surprised when I realized that I was getting choked up, too. We had a quick family meeting and decided that, if Marigold and this dog got along, we’d move forward with bringing him home.
Later that afternoon, Marigold and our new stinky friend had a play date and did just fine.
And now, after a neuter and several subsequent trips to the vet for ear meds and check ups, I’m happy to introduce our newest family member….
Peanut intended to name him Dunkin Donuts. I suggested we call him Dunkin to which she screamed, “LETS CALL HIM DONUT!”
And so it was decided.
We anticipated Donut’s first night home to be difficult. After all, we didn’t know if he was crate-trained, we didn’t know if he was a howler (though he never barked at the shelter), we didn’t know if he would be up ten times at night to go out.
Years ago when Marigold came home I spent a couple nights sleeping on the floor with my fingers in her crate so she wouldn’t whine. Peanut decided that she would do the same for Donut. The picture I caught of her falling asleep next to Donut with Marigold looking on is priceless.
But it wasn’t long before Peanut was ready for her bed and I took over sleeping on the floor, on a crib mattress no less, with Marigold on one side and Donut in his crate on the other. Let’s all be glad no one snapped a picture of that.
We are a few days in to double-doggyhood and so far it’s going great. We keep Donut on a leash in the house until we are sure he is housebroken.
We keep him close so that we know what he’s up to and so he knows who’s in charge. But when he is in his crate, he’s happy as a clam until Pumpkin walks by. Then he rolls over and begs to be pet.
We’ve been doing our best to set Marigold and Donut up for success. Marigold retains alpha status by getting fed first, getting let out and back in first, and getting lots of love. She’s doing a great job tolerating Donut but I think she’s a little bummed and she keeps giving me this look like “Really? THIS is who you decide to bring home??” Despite her reluctance, however, Marigold welcomed Donut by bringing him her favorite stuffed rabbit and leaving it outside his crate on his first night home. So sweet.
Even though Marigold may need a little convincing, I just can’t believe our luck in finding such a lovable, good-natured dog who seems to be such a good fit for our family. Even if he does have a face that only a mother could love.