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The dog who sparked a 3,000 km road trip

Edited by Melanie Dziengo 

All that separated Jennifer Guest and her future dog, Willa, was a 3,000 km road trip. So, she travelled from Toronto to Houston, Texas in October 2018 to meet the dog she only knew from a picture. Read on to learn about her road trip, how Willa’s name came to be, and what it’s like to adopt a dog in a different country.



What’s the name of your dog? 


Willa Houston.


How old is your dog and from which rescue? When did you adopt your dog? 


I adopted Willa from a rescue organization in Houston, called Dachshund Rescue, Education & Adoption Mission (DREAM). That was in October 2018, when she was 1½, so she will be 5-years-old this year. They chose July 13 as her birthday, and I’ve kept that up, although I tend to celebrate her “gotcha” day more. That’s October 4.



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Did your dog come with his/her name or did you change it? Why did you decide to keep his/her name or change it? 


Willa was originally called Willow by DREAM, but when her lovely foster mother said it, it sounded like “Willa” to me. I loved that, and kept it. 


How did you first learn about your dog and do you know any background information? 


I saw Willa’s picture on DREAM’s website, and the only background information I had was that she was picked up with a pack of stray dogs on the outskirts of Houston.


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What was the adjustment period like between the two of you? And are you still adjusting? 


I think it took about two or three months for us to adjust to each other fully. I called her my favourite mistake for a couple of months in the beginning, when she was very anxious. I had a dog for sixteen years that was very anxious, and I thought maybe I was going to have the same experience. But Willa is a very different dog. I could tell when she started to relax because she started to behave like more of a brat! Now, she’s settling in very nicely.


What did you expect that has happened and what has happened that you did not expect? 


I didn’t expect a “nervous” dog to become less nervous.


What makes your dog special? 


She’s part dachshund and part lab, most likely. And I fell in love with her photo - she has the face that launched a 3,000-mile road trip! 


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What have you learned about yourself as a pet owner? 


That I’m not a good dog trainer.


What would you like our readers take away from reading your story? 


Take your time - the beginning is not the way it’s going to be forever. And get lots of help.


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What advice would you give to someone thinking about adopting from that rescue?

 Lovely people!


What advice would you give to someone thinking about adopting a rescue dog? 


Explain that your dog is a rescue. It can be difficult to stop strangers from being overly enthusiastic about greeting your dog, especially if she’s small and cute. My dog is still shy about meeting people, particularly children. But if I say, “She’s a rescue,” they understand and ask questions. It helps keep everyone smiling.

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