The morning of January 5th I got a call from the Humane Society of Charlotte (HSC). They said that my application had been the first, and that if I wanted Murphy, I could adopt him. I needed to come see him first (which, of course, I wanted to do anyway). I had meetings all morning, but I went out to the shelter at lunch time.
I got to the shelter and stepped out in a cold, grey day. I went in and told them that I was there to meet Murphy. They told me the number of Murphy’s kennel, and that they would send a volunteer to bring him to the interaction area.
On my way to Murphy, I passed a number of other dogs. Most of them were big dogs. Some were barking, some looked sad, some looked eager, and some looked lost. It broke my heart. When I got to Murphy’s pen, he was curled up on a blanket. You could barely see him. His chart said that he weighed a little over eight pounds when he arrived and he was up to nine pounds (he now weighs between 13 and 14 pounds). The volunteer came by and said she was going to get him and pointed me to the interaction space.
And then Murphy arrived. He broke my heart again. The volunteer brought him in and he was pitiful. He was shaking like a leaf. Every time another dog barked, he jumped. He was skin and bones. His hair was very thin and did not look healthy. He pooped on the astroturf, and tried to hide in the corner.
I had on my work clothes, but I had to get on the ground close to him. He would not let me pet him, but I talked to him. It took a while, and eventually he came close enough for me to pet him. I talked and he listened. Eventually he stood up on his hind legs and put his paws on my shoulder and looked at me like “you have got to get me out of here.” I told him that I loved him and would see him soon.
On the short walk back to the desk I had a conversation with myself – this was going to be a project. Murphy was more wounded than I anticipated, and I was not sure how equipped I was to help him.
So at the desk I asked if I could think about it. They said I could, but that I needed to let them know by the end of the day. A lot of people would be interested in Murphy because of his age, breed and size. They said that if I agreed to take him that they would neuter him the next day and I would take him home that night. That panicked me even more.
I had back to back meetings the rest of the day. When I dialed the phone right at 5pm, I was not sure what I was going to say. I reached voice mail and after the beep I said, “I’ll take him.”
I went to Pet Smart that night. I wasn’t sure exactly what I needed. I got a crate, a bed pad, a bag of kibble, a collar, a leash and a couple of small toys.
On my way home I called my mom to tell her, not sure what she would say. She was ecstatic and already planning for the weekend when she could meet him.
Then I reached out to several pet sitters – I had an all-day meeting on Friday and I knew I could not leave him alone for the entire day. I left messages for several hoping I could get things arranged the next day. And I’m sure I tossed and turned all night hoping that I’d made the right decision.
Most rescues have been through something (that’s why they need rescue). You need to be prepared for some challenges as they adjust, learned their new home and learn to accept love. I’ll talk more about what that experience was for us.
What you need to bring your baby home: I didn’t do a terrible job, but I didn’t get it all right.
Suggested supply list:
Crate (if you plan to crate train)
Bed (don’t spend a ton of money on the first one—Murphy is a bed snob and has rejected some nice beds)
Food – the shelter/rescue has probably fed kibble and may send some home with you (the Humane Society did), but research brands (dogfoodadvisor.com is an excellent resource) and stay grain free (grains are a source of many allergies). You may want to switch foods later. More about food later.
Bowls (water and food) – glass, ceramic or metal. Plastic is cheaper, but is harder to clean.
Toys – get a couple. You don’t know what kind of toys your new baby may like.
Collar/harness and leash-- make sure you get the right size. If you don’t know if your baby has any experience with leash walking, you may want to start with a harness. Again, don’t spend a ton of money here because you’ll probably make changes as you get to know your baby better.
Poopie bags – enough said.
Carpet cleaner – your new friend may or may not be house trained. Even if they are, they may regress for a little while – be prepared