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Bringing Dewey Home

From Shelter Dog to Family Pet

By Jolie BoyerPublished 2 years ago 6 min read
Top Story - August 2022
Dewey happily relaxing in his crate after a trip to the dog park

My husband was getting ready to leave for an internship in just under a month, so the two of us were talking more and more seriously about getting a dog. We had both been talking about it for months, discussing the pros and cons, what types of breeds we wanted, the size of the dog, and how we would train it. I've had dogs my whole life, but this would be my husband's first pet aside from a betta fish when he was a young child. As often happens with decisions like this, our idea of an ideal dog was nothing like what we ended up with. We thought that a smaller dog, like a schnauzer, pug, or a poodle mix of some kind would be ideal in our apartment. I have pretty bad joint problem and osteoarthritis, so we thought having a dog would help me to exercise more regularly, which would improve my mobility and flexibility. Because of how easily I can get hurt, we figured a small dog might be safer for me to walk.

Once we agreed to get a dog before my husband left for 2.5 months, I immediately began searching the local animal shelters for dogs we could go meet. I quickly vetoed any husky or husky mixes because I knew that I would not be able to give them the amount of exercise they need, despite my husband loving the breed. I glanced over any small dogs listed, but didn't feel any "spark" with any of them. Then I saw Dewey's bio pic, and I immediately fell in love with his sweet face. Dewey is, in my opinion, a very handsome dog. He has a dark patch on his head that mimics a widows peak. much like Dracula's, which frames his eyes and makes his "smile" stand out more. He was listed as a Cattle Dog mix about 2 years old that had been picked up as a stray, and he had been at the shelter for several months (our vet thinks he's actually a Rottweiler/GSD/something else mix).

Dewey's Bio Pic

I instantly fell in love with Dewey, and decided we needed to go meet him. I choose another dog from the same shelter, a female springer spaniel, so we could have a few candidates, and off we went the next morning. As we opened the door to the shelter, a woman left with the spaniel, proudly telling us that she had just adopted the beautiful dog. We congratulated her, shrugged at each other, and went to ask about Dewey. We were told how sweet and loving he was, and taken out to the play yard, where we met our boy through the fence. I was slightly taken aback by how big he was, in his pic he looks like he could be 25 to 30 lbs, when in reality he was 60. But he greeted us so sweetly and quietly - while the other dogs around him barked and yodeled continuously - that he melted our hearts in a second. While we talked with the Officer who introduced us to Dewey, his volunteer walker showed up, and our visit was cut short. As the shelter was closed the next day, we told the workers we would think about it, and planned to go to another shelter to meet another possible candidate in the mean time.

That meeting did not go very well. The puppy was incredibly cute and sweet, but also ridiculously strong. Within seconds of me taking the leash from the worker, I was nearly yanked off my feet and had to back pedal furiously so as to not get very, very hurt. On the way home, we talked about the pup, and I adamantly stated that it was not a good idea to get it, even though we both very much liked the pup's personality. I insisted we go back to see Dewey the next day, so we could do more than just meet him briefly through a fence. My husband agreed, and the next morning we were the first potential adopters through the door. We were given toys, treats, and told we could spend as much time as we wanted with Dewey. If we had questions, one of us was welcome to come back inside and ask.

Being more experienced, I immediately went through a list of things I had thought up the night before. "Sit" and "Lie Down" were both commands that Dewey knew. He surprised me with "Shake", and later on we discovered he also knew "High Five". He allowed me to lift his lips to look at his teeth, tolerated me picking up his feet, and didn't care when I touched his tail. He was gentle taking treats from us, loved toys, and was very engaged with both of us. I had pretty much decided then and there that Dewey was ours, but I wanted to get a few questions answered first. My husband stayed with Dewey, and I headed inside with my list of questions.

I was happy to learn that Dewey was good with other dogs (our closest friends have dogs and I was hoping for playdates and dog park trips), he respected the shelter cat who had free roam of the building, and he was already neutered. I was a little surprised to hear that he had been returned to the shelter twice - once from a foster trial because he was "too energetic" and should be a "farm dog" (a bunch of bull honkey, if you ask me), and once from an adoption fail because the person did no research on their complex's rules, and didn't know that there was a breed ban on shepherds and shepherd mixes. The manager of the complex saw the person with Dewey and immediately told them that Dewey looked too much like a shepherd and had to go (again, I call bull honkey, but there we are). Having met Dewey and neither seen nor heard any red flags, I confirmed that we wanted him. Within the hour, I had signed his adoption form, paid his adoption fee, and we were headed off to get supplies as a newly minted family of three.

After a few minor issues - leash biting, discovery of a sensitive stomach, and a habit of wanting to go out at 6am - Dewey settled in with us quite nicely. We got him a chain leash for safety on walks, figured out that milk bones or dry biscuits are the best treat for him to not upset his stomach, and built a routine for him that helped him be content in his crate until 7am. I discovered that while he could run and play for hours at the dog park, I could easily out-walk him on any given day despite my mobility issues - which could lead to him getting overly tired if I did a long walk with him every day. After some testing, we settled on a long walk every other day, with several much shorter walks or a good long session of fetch on the days in between. After having to snatch half of a destroyed tennis ball out of his mouth before he could swallow it, we got him two extreme chewer Kong toys and two dog-safe lacrosse balls, none of which he has managed to destroy after several months of serious play.

While my husband has been gone, Dew has been my steady companion. He "grumbles" at me in the morning when my alarm goes off, ready to start the day with a zest that only a dog can muster. When we walk, he'll glance up at me and "smile", happy we are together. If I get busy working or cleaning the house, he'll come up to me and put one of his toys in my lap, or goose my leg so that I pay attention to him. He understands several phrases now, and reacts to "Wanna go check the mail?", "Do you need to go outside?", "Bathroom" (he'll lie outside the door waiting for me), "go check it out" (if he hears a strange sound), and "time for bed" (he'll wait for me to remove his collar before curling up in his crate). He responds fairly well to the hand signals I have paired with simple commands (sit, stay, down, and stop). He is eternally confused by our other pet, a cockatiel called Luna that came with me into our marriage. She taunts him by flapping her wings really hard to get his attention, and occasionally when he falls asleep in view of her cage, she'll shriek at the top of her lungs to startle him awake.

Dewey has been with us for almost 4 months now, much longer than any placement he had at the shelter. I can still see moments when he realizes that he is here for good, and that we are not going to give him back to the shelter. He's a sweet, silly, sometimes stinker who has become a forever member of our little family.


About the Creator

Jolie Boyer

A lot of what I write comes from real experiences I have had. I love to bring memories to life with a colorful flair, which in turn helps set the memory more firmly in my mind. Writing is a great medium and a lot of fun!

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (4)

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  • Blake O'Connorabout a year ago

    Who saved who 🥺

  • Diane Dora2 years ago

    You are very kind and I hope more people learn from you!

  • He is lucky to be adopted by you

  • Rescue's are the best breed. Dewey looks so happy in his forever home. You've changed his whole life. Well written!

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