In 2012, Casey and I decided we wanted to adopt a dog. We looked into possibly getting a purebred puppy from a qualified and safe breeder. In fact, I reached out to Border terrier breeders in Illinois to make inquiries. But in the end, we decided that a rescue dog was what we wanted. So many animals need a good home, and our home was ready for a needy, loving soul. There are so many great facilities in Chicago, and Casey and I began stalking their various websites looking at pictures of available dogs for adoption.
In November of that year, the company I worked for, New City Moving decided to take some time off from our work day to do something charitable. We did it by visiting Chicago Canine Rescue Foundation and walking some of the dogs currently in residence. We also brought items from their wish list: paper towels, baggies, zip lock baggies, frozen chicken breasts, rice, etc. We were given a tour of the premises and I was impressed by not only the facility, but by their mission. Chicago Canine Rescue is a no-kill shelter and during our tour we saw dogs that had been abused, injured, or just abandoned. On their website it states, “CCRF assists the animals that are the MOST vulnerable in our city – the dogs and cats that are slated for euthanasia because they are too old, too young, too injured, have disabilities, or have simply been overlooked for too long by potential adopters at other shelters.” I also know when we adopted our dog; they were even taking dogs from states that have harsher euthanizing policies. I admired this mission very much, and decided I would take a closer look at the dogs available for adoption.
Once we did the tour, it was time for us to walk the dogs. They bring them out one at a time so the dogs don’t get too excited. I know that I walked two dogs, one very sweet, older Golden Retriever mix named Honeybee. She was a sweetheart and I enjoyed my walk with her immensely. But, the minute I laid eyes on Merlin 3, I knew he was our dog. In fact, I butted in front of my fellow coworkers and said, “I’ll walk that dog!” Luckily, my coworkers are kind and understood that I was looking for a dog to adopt. Merlin 3 was just the sort of dog Casey and I had talked about. He was a medium-sized dog, with a soft, tan coat, darker ears, and what appeared to be eyeliner around his deep brown eyes. It was love at first sight. I took my time walking Merlin 3 and studied his temperament and his behavior. We bonded right away. When my boss, Brian Slater, hollered hello to us from across the street, Merlin hid behind my legs and I knew he trusted me to protect him. I decided that minute to let Casey know I had found our dog.
As soon as we returned to the office I called Casey at work and showed him Merlin 3’s photo. He just said, “Yes. That’s our dog.” I filled out the application and sent it in right away. They immediately called to check our references, and we were on our way to adoption. Casey decided to take the train to the facility and meet Merlin 3 himself. I drove up and joined them after work, and we became even more excited to give this dog his forever home.
On Saturday, November 17th, Merlin 3 came to our home and became Strider. The adoption cost was $205 in total. That money is to support the running of the facility, including the extensive medical treatments some of the animals need. The adoption agent who brought him went over all his paperwork, including all the vaccinations, medicines, and his microchip information. They had even written down the dates he would need boosters and the next heartworm dose. She mentioned that he was about one year old. He had just recently developed a slight case of the kennel cough, so she asked us to stop by the facility to pick up medication they would provide until we could get a veterinary appointment. We received information on various veterinary facilities and dog trainers. She also told us that Strider came to them as a puppy from a shelter in Oklahoma City which euthanizes dogs within 24 hours, due to a lack of space. We were so lucky that a team was there ready to bring him and others to a place where they’d be taken care of until they found homes. We were nervous, but so excited to have our dog!
We made our first veterinary appointment to get him a check-up and discovered he was closer to 8-10 months old rather than a year. We also hired a trainer, Brandi Barker of Barker Behavior, who also pegged him at around 8 months. So, he was still a puppy! We had noticed that Strider was very apprehensive of other people. Tall, large men, in particular, seemed to strike him with fear. He did better with women, and was great with children, but we wanted to work on getting over those fears. Brandi was a tremendous help. With a few tricks and a lot of work from all of us, he was less afraid and much more social. By then we had settled into a good routine and we could tell Strider felt completely at home.
We were a little curious about Strider’s genetic background. His coloring and curly tail screamed “Pug”, but he was much taller and had a longer muzzle. At a visit to the vet, we spoke to another mutt rescuer that had used a service called Wisdom Panel. We decided it was worth the expense and sent off the swabs that they provided in a kit with Strider’s DNA. Once we received the results, we learned we were right about the Pug part, but he was also one-quarter Lhasa Apso and one-quarter American Eskimo Dog. The fourth quarter was a mix of Ibizan Hound, Airedale Terrier, Dogue de Bordeaux, Pomeranian and Entlebucher Mountain Dog. It was exciting to learn about the different traits each breed brought to the Strider picture. It also helped us understand a lot about his loving, protective, loyal personality.
This November, we will have had Strider for four years. They have been years filled with chewed up blankets, piles of string from rope toys, lots of swept and vacuumed up dog hair, joy, laughter, hugs, kisses, walks, adventures and much more. There is a relatively cheesy saying, “My rescue dog rescued me.” But, it’s the truth! Strider has brought more to our lives than we ever imagined. We look forward to many more years of unconditional love!