I Almost Gave Up on Pet Adoption, Then Came Ike

It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always quick. But it's always worthwhile.

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Posted in , Oct 13, 2014

Ike the Golden Retriever at home

I might have given up on pet adoption. After all, my husband Mike and I had been through one adoption fail, one adoption that ended with a broken heart, and countless months of searching shelters and rescue groups, just missing out on dogs that seemed the right match. Yup, I might have given up. Then came Ike.

Last spring Mike and I walked a pebbled park path, a lanky golden retriever trotting cautiously at our side. “What do you think, do you want him?” Lex asked. Lex was the volunteer from Peppertree rescue group.

Ike the Golden Retriever resting in his favorite chair at homeThe dog was about 9 years old, too skinny, with patchy gold fur that hinted at allergies. His teeth were mostly broken stubs. Lex told us that he’d been shut away from a female dog in heat and chewed through a wooden door to get to her.

“He gets car sick,” she said, handing us some pills to settle his stomach. Was this supposed to convince us? I struggled to decide what was right for us, right for the dog.

Basically, all I knew was that his name had been Buddy and the rescue group had renamed him Burleigh, neither name we’d likely keep. That, and he was apparently a lusty fellow.

We stopped walking, and Mike stooped down and put a hand on the dog’s golden head. He leaned in close and talked softly. This was Mike’s way, a little tête-à-tête, a private attempt to evaluate the dog’s capacity to trust and bond.

“Did you make a connection?” I whispered.

“Yes, a little,” he returned.

Still, I wasn’t sure. We took Buddy/Burleigh home, renamed him Ike, and surrounded him with love. Even our resident bossy female dog, Kelly, accepted him.

The four of us went out on walks, played in the yard, and relaxed in the living room in the evenings. All seemed to be going well, but it takes a little time for pet adoptions to shake out. Sometimes new dogs put on their company manners for a while.

One night, a week or so after we got him, Ike came up to me and sat at my feet. I stroked his head, thinking how difficult it must have been to leave everything he knew, to adjust to a new home and new family.

Yet, each morning he greeted me with jumps of joy and faithfully followed at my heels all day. He’d never once given me anything but love. He looked in my eyes, and I saw that trust. And we made a connection.

Ike is gentle, adorable, loving, and devoted. I’m so glad we gave him a chance. And we’ll forever give adoption a chance. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always quick. But when you end up giving a homeless dog a sense of security that enables love and trust, it’s all worthwhile.

October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. There are millions more homeless dogs (and cats) than there are people who adopt from shelters. Adopting a shelter pet can be life-saving.

Adopting also means refusing to support cruel factory breeding organizations called puppy mills. Puppy mills will continue to operate until people stop purchasing from them. So, if you’re thinking of adding a dog to your family, please consider adoption.

And tell them Ike sent you.

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