A few years back my friend Iain said I should get a dog. Thought one would be good for me. I wasn’t sold on the idea. When I met my now ex girlfriend she had an amazing Springer Spaniel who I adored. He was sweet and fun and entertaining. He grew to love me too I think, considering I always said he adopted me not the other way around.
After the split I wasn’t sure what I wanted. Missed the furry friend I had made and the play time we shared. I also understood that within the relationship he was my ex’s dog, I helped out when I could and even covered a hefty vet bill once, but essentially it was she who attended to most of his daily needs.
However, when faced with the thought of adventuring alone again I realized there was a void, not just by being single again but in the fur friend aspect as well. My sister and niece “added me” to a couple of rescue Facebook groups in Nova Scotia which had dogs and cats. I resisted looking at first but eventually found myself down the rabbit hole, looking at lost faces of so many little creatures with so much love to give, all hoping that one day they could sleep through the night knowing they were safe in a forever home.
After a few times of becoming overwhelmed and simply closing the web browser I eventually looked at my budget and started down the trail again. So many faces, so many issues, so many unknowns. I started favouriting certain dogs. I knew I wanted a male, not too big, not too shaggy, not too fru-fru or girly. I figured eventually I’d know once I found him. Somehow that actually, in a way, is exactly how it happened. I found a few potential dogs that were part of another rescue group in the Southern United States. I inquired how they were posting dogs in the Nova Scotia group and was informed that the two worked together to get as many pets placed as possible. The southern group also delivered the adopted pets to the Canadian border as part of their incentive. I started a barrage of questions at one of the lovely girls who worked with the rescue. She fielded every one, telling me what she knew about each dog, sending me photos of them and other potential candidates. Eventually there was one set of photos I kept going back to. Despite thinking that his name didn’t suit him I kept going back to this one handsome, droopy eared little trouble maker. Finally I leapt and he was on his way to me, all the way from Texas where he was being fostered.
On September 30th, my niece Emma accompanied me and we drove the 7 hour round trip to the Canadian border crossing at St. Stephens New Brunswick and I finally got to meet my new friend. Two lives changed that day.
The drive back was interesting, after an hour of him sniffing around the truck, saying hello to Emma and I, it didn’t take him long before he was asleep in his seat in the back. His nose wedged by the heater or across the console so he was touching Emma. It was apparent from the beginning that he just wanted to be around people.
As the two of us got settled back at the trailer over the next few days I gave him a lot of room to get acclimated to his new surroundings, new people, new place to sleep, new food etc. His journey alone was one to tire the best of us out so I just let him get used his new surroundings for awhile, get caught up on his sleep, get used to his new food (canned pumpkin helped well with that). He not only came a long way but he was taken from a very caring foster home which I’m sure was even more confusing for him. They are great though, a woman and her son whom I’ve since made friends with as I eventually had a few questions. When they got him he was literally hours away from death at a high kill shelter in Texas. If it wasn’t for them I would have never known this little guy.
After he got settled in we started doing some minor training. His foster family said he was a chewer so I made sure he had lots of toys of his own to go to town on. The only time he’s come close to chewing something he’s not supposed to was a couple of times I found a relocated shoe and an oven mitt once, both still in tact, just moved. He’s now learned where his bed is, what “uppie-up” is (he can go on the couch) and the same is used for up into his seat in the truck as well as up into the trailer, and where mat is, by the door while waiting for wet feet to be dried or his leash removed etc. He’s very smart and patient with me now as we dry his feet on rainy days or put on his new harness which helps him be a better boy on the leash. He knows his toys like “Cookie” and “Rope” and will get them to play when I ask where they are. He know’s his new name now, (his former name was Skipper and I just felt it didn’t suit him), so we changed it to Rollins after a smart musician/speaker, Sir Henry Rollins whom I admire and respect.
We’ve learned so much together these past two months and he has truly become my adventure partner. There’s been a few small things we needed to understand about each other but we’re like two peas in a pod now.
The main reason I wrote this is that I heard so much about rescue pets having social issues, behavioural problems etc. To be honest I expected way more challenges than I’ve faced with Rollins. Sure, I still don’t understand his desire to eat cigarette butts found on our walks but he gets a firm verbal reminder “no” and he’s learning. The other things like chewing, accidents, acting out when left alone, all the various things I was warned about, simply, never happened. The first time I left him alone in the truck I was nervous that I’d come back to a chewed dashboard or something. Nope, I snuck up to find him snuggled in his seat, waiting patiently. Same with being left in the trailer, no issues. I actually think he takes the time to nap as I can hear him scooting down to be at the door when he hears the key. My only concern is that he waits til I get back before he eats anything.
Other than that I have myself a kind, smart, loving creature who is one of the best friends I’ve ever had. We play ball, we go for walks, we drive and I talk to him, he naps most of the time but enjoys the view some times too, when darkness comes and we relax inside, he sits with me or sometimes naps on his own, sometimes he lays on me and snores. He’s helped me realize that life doesn’t have to be hurried, that together we’re doing ok and even though we don’t speak the same language we can share our adventures, our troubles and our love and simply “be” together. He truly is my best friend.