I haven't been riding my bike much (ok, at all) for the last few weeks and that has left me with some extra time on my hands. I tried filling that time with extra running, but there's only so much running I can do without sending my calves on strike. I just had this persistent thought that I would make a good dog mom… and every day I woke up with the desire to have one that much stronger. Every time I saw someone post a picture of their dog, or saw a dog playing at the beach, or running with his/her owner, I just kept thinking I WANT ONE OF THOSE.
Long story short, I had my eyes and ears open looking for a dog that needed a good home. While puppies are adorable, I knew I didn't need a puppy. In fact, I sort of figured an adult dog might be better b/c of the whole potty training thing. I mean, I could have done that of course, but not having to was pretty appealing.
Anyway, I found a post on Craigslist for this Rhodesian Ridgeback dog that had been found on the side of the road… The folks who found her had been fostering her but she needed a forever home. I did some research on Ridgebacks and basically this is what I found: Great runners. Don't shed much. Don't bark much. Really smart. Like to eat. :) All of the pictures I found of Ridgebacks showed them as being brownish/red so I figured this dog was a mix of some sort which was 100% fine with me. A friendly loyal dog who wanted to run was really what I was looking for!
So I answered the ad on Craigslist expressing my desire for this dog and then couldn't sleep that night. The next morning I got a reply back saying that of all the people who responded, it sounded like our home would be the best. We arranged to go meet the dog that night and I was beside myself with anticipation! I went straight to PetSmart and walked around in a daze at all the options of things to buy for a dog… I didn't go crazy and just bought the basics… food/water bowls, collar, leash, food, dog bed, a toy and some treats. Scott came home that evening and was like You bought a dog bed?? We haven't even met the dog!? Ok so maybe I was a bit impulsive but I just wanted to be prepared. The thing was, Scott wasn't as mentally prepared to have a new dog yet. His dog, Hoku, who he had from a puppy for 14 years, passed away last year and emotionally that was quite hard on him and he wasn't sure he was ready to do it again yet. I knew though that he could love another dog again.
We drove to the other side of the island to meet this dog… She came running out and immediately came right to my feet and rolled over on her back! It was pretty much the sweetest thing ever, love at first sight, and 30' later she jumped right in our car no questions asked and we were driving her home. She slept on my lap the whole time.
The adjustment has been about as easy as I could have possibly imagined. I think I figured that I would have to earn the trust of this dog, but I didn't have to at all. She bonded with me instantly. She is so friendly, loves people, and wags her tail all the time! Just a dog full of joy. She does cower at times, which makes me so sad to see… I think it's clear that she was not treated well at some point in her life because she has some real fears (she is quite afraid of dog toys, especially ones that squeak- simply the sight of one makes her attempt to get out of the room). That makes me so sad and I can't imagine for a second how anyone could ever be mean to a dog like this.
My biggest concern about bringing a dog into our family was that we have three chickens and a cat (and 2 guinea pigs, but they are in cages so no worries there)… But even that part has been a non-issue. Ozzie (our cat) and Maia did have a surprise confrontation at 3AM the first night Maia was home- she was sleeping (in her new bed!) when Ozzie came in… Maia barked and tried to get Ozzie, Ozzie used his claws on Maia's nose, Maia yelped then chased Ozzie up the stairs and straight out his cat door, and my adrenaline shot through the roof… I had some fears that Ozzie wouldn't want to come home anymore, but those were unfounded. As I type this, Ozzie is in my lap and Maia is at my feet, both sleeping peacefully. Ozzie is clearly the dominant animal in this house, Maia seems fine with that, and everyone is happy. (Maia hasn't seen our chickens yet, but she has seen wild chickens on the side of the road as she isn't interested in them.)
Anyway, it feels like Maia has brought so much joy into our house. She's only been here for like 4 days but she is already completely part of the family. She's a stud runner- I've taken her 3x now on the same 2.2 mile loop and she pulls me along the whole way! I'm guessing she hasn't done a lot of leashed running so I don't want to overwhelm her with too much too soon, but I'm sure I'll get a bonus 10-15 miles a week running with her simply because it's such a fun thing to do to take this dog running. Most of the time she does a great job staying focused and running straight, but it's pretty clear that she was used as a hunter in her previous life because sometimes she insists on taking breaks to stop and smell the feral cats along the way.
It's been interesting to get some comments on my Facebook posts about her… Friends thanking me for rescuing this dog… I totally get what they mean but you know what? As good as it feels to give this dog the home she deserves, the joy we get back is so real that it doesn't feel like it's any 'sacrifice' at all. That phrase 'Who Rescued Who?' is legit. Bringing Maia into our family has been one of the best decisions I've made in a long time!