Hilary with Hank and Joey
A tail of a full house
A full house is a dog in every room, according to Hilary Abbey. The Burlington, Ont. school principal and rescue mom already has three dogs, and is thinking about a fourth. Read about two of her dogs’ adoptions from Ozzie to the Rescue Canada, what she learned about herself as a pet owner, and advice she has for potential adopters.
I first learned about Hank, who is approximately 11-years-old and is a Chihuahua/Jack Russell mix, when I saw him in the pet store. He was the store dog, and when I inquired about him, I was told one of the pet store workers was fostering him and that he was looking for a forever home. It was one of those moments where I KNEW he was meant for our family. We applied to Ozzie to adopt Hank, we were approved, and in January 2020, he came home with us the following week. Hank, from what we know, had an elderly man as his owner in South Carolina. He was not fed well, and as a result, he became unhealthy. The elderly man couldn’t afford to feed Hank or his sister Speckles, and they were surrendered to the local shelter.
As for Joey, we loved Hank so much we needed another! I told Ozzie we wanted another dog to love and within an hour, a picture of Joey was sent to me. And, very much like Hank, it was love at first sight. We said YES. Joey, a Chihuahua who is approximately 5-years-old, was in a home with an elderly woman, and she had four Chihuahuas. She passed away, and her family did not want the dogs, so they were taken to a local kill shelter. Joey and her brother Buddy were rescued and fostered in South Carolina until they could be transported to Canada, and we adopted in December 2020. Buddy went to a happy home too.
Edited by Medeea Hanko
Hilary with Kevin
I decided to adopt a dog since I am a single mother. I bought a puppy for my daughter, and I was naïve and did not realize the conditions under which this puppy was born (puppy mill). Once I learned this, I was determined to never purchase a puppy again because I did not want to support this abusive business. My understanding from my vet is that puppy mills are all too common now as the demand for puppies is so big. When Copper was 7 months old, he was tragically killed in a hit and run accident. This accident happened right in front of my daughter and I. It was so traumatic. I can still hear the sound. Two weeks later, we went to the humane society and adopted Kevin, an American Eskimo.. This was our first experience with adoption. We knew it was the right decision for us. We now have three adopted dogs, and think we have room for four!
My dogs are special because all adopted dogs come with a special love. They are ‘old souls’ because they have been through so much in their lives. Dogs are so forgiving, and they just want to love and to be loved. This is very evident with all three of our adopted dogs. The love they have to give and their capacity for love is immense. It is something that I wish all dog owners could experience. But, something else that makes them special is Hank does something we call ‘gopher.’ He is able to sit up like a gopher for long periods of time. He sits like a human and ‘talks.’ He can carry on a conversation in dog language. Joey is a big kisser. She cannot give you enough kisses, and she loves to be kissed too.
Our dogs get along very well. It is like they understand the vulnerability in each other.
The adjustment period for both Hank and Joey was easy. Hank started sleeping in our beds the first night. But, Joey was a bit more unsure. It took her about six weeks to feel comfortable with us, but she bonded with Hank right away. Joey also does not like the winter. She has never had a collar, so we are trying to make that happen too. We have learned with rescue dogs, things can’t work at a fast pace all the time. There is a lot of time spent trying to understand and respect what they have been through. Building trust and a sense of safety is the priority with these special guys. Once that is built (and it has been with us), your rescue dog will stand by your side forever. It’s a bond that can never be broken.
The adoption process was long. There is quite an extensive written application that comes first, an interview over the phone comes second, and a home visit is third. It is very important the rescue group matches the dog with the right family. If the first dog isn’t a fit for you, don’t worry because another one will always come along.
There was a trial process involved. The rescue group representative was so attentive during the initial weeks with our dogs. She called, texted, and came to visit. She was there for every single question I had about the dogs. I never once felt alone or nervous. I was fully supported every step of the way, and I still am. If the dogs had not worked for our family, I know the group would have tried to help or find a new, more suitable home. But, they do a very good job at matching dogs with families right from the get go.
I have learned that I never that while initially considered myself a “dog person”(because I had always had cats), once I had my first dog, I became a dog person. I learned to let go of some of the things that I used to “fuss” about such as clean floors and furniture. The love for my dogs became so profound so quickly that it was easy to let go of superficial worries. To be honest, my rescue dogs saved me more than I saved them. The love they give me when I get home from work is like nothing I have experienced. They are devoted to their humans, and the love is unconditional. Dogs will teach us a lot — if we let them!
The advice I would give to someone who wants to adopt is everyone needs at least one Chihuahua in their lifetime. I also think all dog people need to adopt at least one dog in their lifetime. It is a gift.
If you want to adopt from a rescue, do your research and make sure the rescue group is reputable. I would ask for references from them as much as they will from you. Talk to someone who has adopted from this group, and check out their social media platforms. A responsible rescue group does a lot of work in choosing the dogs they will adopt out. They will also do a lot of work to ensure a close match between family and dog. The average fee is $400. Rescue groups do not make money, and this fee sustains them. When you can, think about supporting a local rescue group in their fundraising efforts. The people who run these groups are devoted to their animals and to their cause. They are true angels.