Owney has been a part of our family for two years. We adopted him August 17, 2013. Below is an article I wrote for the Wayne County Humane Society Newsletter.
Our dog of 14 years, Madison, passed away on March 5, 2013. She had been such an integral part of our lives, it was hard to be without her. While I was content to spend the time with our 5 cats, Bobby missed having a dog. He started dropping hints in the summer that he wouldn’t mind having another dog. I was resistant at first to the idea. Not that I don’t like dogs, I like them very much, it is just dogs are a LOT more work than cats. Where you can leave cats with food, water and a clean litter box for several days, dogs have needs that require you to be there daily or at least arrange for care for them when you are gone. I was getting used to the independence that came from not having a dog.
But then, Bobby had to do a story for The Daily Record on the Wayne County Humane Society, and he was there several times over a week. He sent me a picture of a dog one day, and I asked him why. When he sent me a picture of a different dog within the week, I asked him if he wanted to get another dog. He answered, “I think so.” We ended up going to the Humane Society open house in August. One of the dogs whose picture I had received, was still there. We walked into the room and while all the other dogs were barking, he wasn’t. When we came near the X-pen he was in, all he did was jump (like a jumping bean).
Bobby asked me if I thought he was cute, which of course I said, “Yes.” My hesitation was that he was a terrier mix (terrier/beagle mix). My sister, Randi, is dog groomer. She knows a lot about dogs, so I called her and sent her a picture of the dog. She told me that he would need a lot of activity because of his breed. Bobby and I aren’t exactly active people (my favorite sport is couch potatoing). So, I could see there could be issue bringing a terrier mix home. However, because Bobby was interested, I was willing to give him a chance. While I was talking with my sister, Bobby took the dog back into the building. I thought he was going to start the paperwork. When he came out without the dog, he said, “I just don’t think he is the right dog for us.”
As we were leaving, without a dog, one of the board members, Greg Long, suggested we come back and meet with the dog again, when it wasn’t so hectic. “Come back and take him outside. Spend some time with him and get to know him before you decide.” We said we would and left.
The week passed by, and I could not stop thinking about that dog. I wondered if anyone had adopted him. Bobby Facebooks all the time, so after telling his Facebook friends we left without the dog, a friend of his indicated she might go look at him for herself. Later in the week she said she changed her mind. So as far as I knew, he was still there.
The following Tuesday morning, I said to Bobby as I was heading off to work, “Are we going to go and see that dog again?” He said that we should. So I went off to work thinking that we would try and get out to see him sometime. Imagine my surprise when I came home from work that night and found the little terrier mix sitting in my yard with Bobby close at hand. I got out of the car and asked if we were just trying him out overnight. “We’re fostering him for a week.” Bobby told me. He said that he told the Humane Society that we needed to see how the dog got along with our cats (remember we have 5 indoor cats) and our family’s dogs (my sister has 2 border collies and my parents have a beagle mix of their own).
The first few days were quite an adjustment. While we have a lead to put a dog outside (from Madison), I was persuaded, mostly by my sister but also by Ceasar Milan, the Dog Whisper, that a dog should be walked at least 30 minutes a day. Getting into that routine was sort of tough. Also, it became clear that the dog got along better with men than women. While he fell in love with Bobby very quickly, he was a little more reserved with me (unless I had a leash in hand to take him for a walk). The cats also were learning to adjust. I’m a big believer that animals learn to coexist with each other, eventually. Four of my cats pretty much put Owney, (the name we decided to give him), in his place very quickly. Our fifth cat, Mr. Thomas, however, did not do so. He, instead would run away and Owney, being a dog and terrier mix, saw it as a game. Mr. Thomas would run through the house hissing, and Owney would chase him, with tail wagging at the fun game of chase. It was quite chaotic those early days!
On Saturday, August 17, we decided to make Owney ours. While Bobby was a bit concerned about Mr. Thomas, I was sure that they would learn to get along sooner or later. “Besides,” I told Bobby, “Owney was part of our family now.”
Since we have adopted Owney, we have been introduced to some things that we were only aware of in the intellectual sense. Dogs like to walk. We walk Owney two times a day, at least. While Madison sometimes had the pleasure of taking a walk, she was just as content to lay down outside, especially in the snow.
Wooster has an awesome dog park. We like to take Owney there because he loves to play. He loves playing with other dogs and we are glad that he gets tired after a half hour at the park. We also have met some really nice people. However, we only know the dogs’ names. Owney plays well with almost all dogs (something Madison never did), but especially enjoys Tank, Shottsie, and Kayley.
Car rides can be addicting. While Madison also loved to go for rides in the car, Owney is almost addicted to them. Every time we go out for our walk, he stops at the cars and wags his tail, as if asking if he could go for a car ride. When he does get to go for a ride, it is like he can’t sit still. He has to check out every angle and point of view. We recently purchased a Chevrolet HHR. The vehicle has back seats that lay down flat which opens up the whole back. Owney loves going from one passenger window to the back window to the other passenger window and back again. Madison would just lay on the seat and often would fall asleep on car rides. Owney is like a child who doesn’t want to miss anything. We took a trip to Columbus with him and he maybe laid down for 1 or 2 minutes the whole ride!
There is nothing like having a dog want to sit next to you while you watch TV. While Madison was a great dog, she was her “own dog.” She didn’t have to be right by us all of the time. Owney doesn’t either, but then he doesn’t mind hanging out with us on the couch at night and getting a belly rub or two. It is really therapeutic to pet a dog and they like it as well.
Hints for potential dog owners:
- Make sure you are ready for the commitment. Like I said, Madison was with us for 14 years. Owney’s life expectancy is 15 years (he is around 3 now) so we could potentially have him for 12 more years. If you aren’t ready for that kind of commitment, get a fish.
- Change the dog’s name. Owney had a different name when we met him at the Humane Society. My sister suggested we change his name, that way if there was anything negative that the dog associated with his former name, it wouldn’t carry over to his new life. Owney learned within a week or two that his new name was Owney. Now, I can’t even imagine calling him anything else.
- Be ready for the breed you are adopting.There are a lot of cute dogs out there and they all have different strengths and challenges. Owney is a smart, active dog who if left to his own devices might chew just about anything. We make sure that he has a lot of toys that he can chew. We also know that he needs to be active, which is why we walk him two times a day. There are other dogs who don’t have those kind of needs. So if you are thinking about getting a dog, make sure you know what that breed needs to be a healthy, happy dog.
- While I was not really ready for a new dog, I can’t imagine my life without Owney. We have had him about three months, but the place he has in my heart is one he will have forever. I’m glad the Humane Society exists and I’m glad they were willing to give us a trial period. If they hadn’t, Owney would never have found this home and been able to make it his.