And, we all speak "y'all!!"Please meet our newly adopted girls- Magnolia (1-1/2 to 2 years old from Texas) on the left, and Louise (2-3 years old from Louisiana) in the center, and you all know sweet Ella (who is 11) on the right! As you can see above ;) and as I've mentioned in previous posts, we have a fondness for black dogs, which are often the last to be adopted and are so common in the south. In fact, the director at the shelter where Louise came from said that 60% of their dogs are black. You can read more about "black dog syndrome" HERE and HERE
The story (fair warning, it's a long one!):Every night after Amelia died so suddenly in January, I would blow out the alter candle on the kitchen island (which I mentioned HERE on my post on gratitude) and pause and tell her how much we loved and missed her. After several months I began telling her to find us another sister. Then after that I started adding "find us a girl that needs us, a girl just like you."
In early April I started to "tiptoe" around Petfinder. (Which if you are not familiar with it is a wonderful site where you can find animals from shelters and rescues across the country. I will do a post on it and all the wonderful shelters and rescues I have come in contact with in the past several months.) I would look at a couple of dogs and then close the page as I just wanted Amelia back... my heart wasn't ready. Slowly, very slowly, my heart began to mend a bit and I knew it was Amelia's legacy for us to rescue and love another dog. I began looking most days, and even though there were so, so many dogs I never fell in love or felt like I had found "the one." For me personally, the whole adopting process is an emotional and spiritual journey, and I try to listen closely to my heart.
Early May I found Magnolia (then named "Blaze") on Petfinder. I saw her face, read her story and I couldn't even look at another dog. I felt in my heart that she was the one. I had chills. She had been dumped on the side of the road in a small town in Texas. She had one of her puppies with her. Someone picked up the puppy and left her on the side of the road to starve, get killed by a car or coyotes. Can you even imagine? She was skin and bones and was fostered by Kurtis who is a friend of the woman who found her. Kurtis is involved with Min-Pin rescue in Texas and he took her in as a courtesy to find her a home. Her post on Petfinder said she was a sweet and gentle girl who needed a home. She sounded like a good match for Ella (who is an active 11-year old;) After talking to Kurtis on the phone I was convinced she was our girl! The only issue with her was that she was heartworm positive. Her heartworm treatment was being done in Texas and she is expected to make a full recovery (she has been doing great btw), but because she was HW positive we couldn't use the animal transport that we used to bring Amelia up from Texas as they do not transport HW positive dogs. So, a road trip to the south was planned. Kurtis very kindly offered to drive up to 5 hours to meet us to make the pick up easier for us. We planned to meet him and Magnolia in Baton Rouge at the end of July, since my sister, niece and nephew live there with their families and we could visit family and adopt Magnolia at the same time. Win/Win!
and her precious "wonky" ear!
Magnolia is our "Director of Fun and Play!"
I didn't think she looked like a "Blaze" (named for the white blaze on her chest); I thought she looked sweet and feminine, and thought her name should reflect that, so after asking LOTS of questions when I called to inquire about her I found out she was found close to "Magnolia," Texas and I immediately knew we would name her Magnolia! I liked the connection to her rescue and I liked the connection to my southern roots.
It was a good week/week and a half later when I had my first omg.... this is just like Amelia moment. Just like Amelia, Magnolia was in a situation where she had been rescued and was in the home of someone who rescues many dogs, and she spent most of her time in a crate. It was the first moment when I realized that this is the dog that Amelia had chosen for us- she sent us a dog just like her, just like I had asked her to do. Unbeknownst to me, there would be many, many more of those moments and coincidences to come. So many. Uncanny things that were unique only to Amelia. I felt like it was her way of letting me know that this indeed the girl we were supposed to adopt!
During the weeks leading to our road trip to Louisiana I had the thought late one night (after a glass or two of wine:)... "since we are going to go on such a long drive- 1,700 miles each way- to pick up one dog, and there are SO many in the south that need homes, why not adopt two??" Having three dogs has been a dream of ours for a long time (especially when we lived in Dallas and we thought about moving here to New Hampshire. It was just part of the whole "living in New England" package for us; I guess you could say it was on our bucket list;) But, had it not been for Amelia I would never have had the courage to actually get two at one time! My thought was "wouldn't it be fun to adopt a dog from Louisiana (where family lives) and call her "Louise?!" So, I opened up Petfinder that night and typed in the Baton Rouge zip code where my niece lives, where we stay when there. On page two I saw this face (below) which stopped me in my tracks and I had to catch my breath. Those eyes..... that sweet, sweet face.
Louise's Petfinder photo
I glanced up on the page of her posting, and I'll be damned....
her name was LOUISE! A sign?
I think so.
I had not even mentioned a second dog to Dan at this point, so I asked him the next day what if we adopted a second dog when we drove down south? He looked at me a little funny and then I told him I had found a dog! I showed him the posting on Louise and he, too, was immediately smitten. I called the Denham Springs Animal Shelter to ask about her. The shelter, which is just outside of Baton Rouge, is the only non-kill municipal shelter in the entire state of Louisiana. She sounded like a perfect match for us. We decided that we would stop to meet her on our way into Baton Rouge.
It was 97 degrees and HUMID the day we arrived into town and the heat index felt like it was 125! And, let me just say that this southern girl has totally forgotten the extreme heat and humidity of the south. I literally melted the whole time we were in Louisiana. We walked in to the very clean and well taken care of, but bare-bones shelter (think lots of heat-soaked concrete with large wire cages with tin roofs shelter) and to the chorus of a hundred barking dogs. It is much larger than this photo shows, but I loved how they have a doggie pool for all the dogs! These are the lucky ones- they are safe and tended to, and you could tell the entire staff really, really cared for all of them. We were so impressed with the facility.
It was HOT, did I mention that :) We slowly walked around the shelter just looking at all the dogs and looking for Louise. A shelter worker came up to us and we told her we were there to see Louise. She pointed to her cage where she bunked with two other dogs and as we walked up to the cage the other two dogs came up to meet us, but Louise stayed laying in her 1/2 of a two-part plastic crate that was used for a bed and she didn't even open her eyes. Her breathing was short and shallow and I asked Dan if she was okay? I literally thought she might be dead. Come to find out, she had been at the shelter for a YEAR AND FIVE MONTHS. I wouldn't have gotten up either. She had been there, done that and it was just too hot to expend energy on people who were just going to pass her by.... again.
The shelter worker asked if we would like to get her out. Yes. The second she opened the cage door and Louise came out into the fenced open courtyard area she was a totally different dog. She greeted us gently, then went to each and every worker who was out in the courtyard area and greeted them. We walked her, spent time with her and Ella together- they were great together, and she was simply delightful. We adopted her there and then, but decided (this was a tough one) to leave her where she was comfortable and knew her surroundings for a couple of more days. We would pick her up on Saturday, the same day we would meet Kurtis to pick up Magnolia. My niece has three children and two (very sweet) dogs, and I just thought it would be a LOT to bring her into. In the end it worked out perfectly, but as we put her back into the cage she looked so dejected. I told her that mama and daddy would be back for her.
with her beautiful butterscotch eyes!
Louise is a sweet, gentle lovebug.
On Saturday morning Kurtis arrived with little Magnolia. She was smaller than I anticipated even though she had put on some weight since being rescued off the side of the road, but she is still only 34 pounds and our vet says will probably only gain another 4. She was sweet and precious, and a bit scared. One of the first things Dan said to me after we met her was "she has a wonky ear - just like Amelia." I had not seen it in any of the photos of her, but she has a funny little "wonky" ear that stands straight up at times, just like Amelia's. It was the second just like Amelia moment. After some time with her we put her in the crate for a nap and Dan and I, and Ella, went to the Denham Springs Shelter to pick up Louise.
When we got to Louise's cage on this day she was standing at the door wagging as if she knew that we would keep our promise and come back for her. Once back to my niece's house we bathed both dogs immediately! Louise's coat went from dusty and tons of loose hair to a beautiful black with reddish-brown (I actually thought she was going to be a huge shedder which is a major concern of mine, but I decided that is what vacuums were made for!! That's how much I immediately loved her!) I am very thankful to say she hasn't shed since. Ella sheds more than she does;) All the girls got along great together and that night we had a big family dinner/party and they were right in the middle of it all and enjoying every minute- a baby, kids running around, adults, dogs, music and the smell of smoked brisket (thank you Forest!). The next morning my adorable little 6 year old great-niece, Stella, was playing dress up with all of dogs- putting bows and headbands on them and the dogs were so sweet and gentle and loved all the attention!
We left that day- all getting into the car (a Yukon XL to be exact as we could not have fit into an actual car:) with two crates, three dog beds, luggage, and two concrete planters my sister gave me (!) and embarked on a 3-day road trip home!
Omgosh... I don't think I will ever adopt another dog without doing a 3-day road trip! I HIGHLY recommend it! The immediate bonding and immersion into our new lives together was sweet, wonderful and amazing. We all bonded immediately with all the puppy-breaks, the different hotel rooms, the morning walks to do business, the giving of food, etc. The new girls are (thankfully) great travelers. They were initially closed in their crates (Ella was not) to make sure they were going to be okay with the car and not get car sick, and then mid day-one crate doors were opened and they went in and out freely from then on. It really was the best of times! We love a good road trip and a rescue road trip was just that much better.
This Saturday will be the girls one-month anniversary of being "home" and we can not get over how acclimated and natural they are in the house and on the property. They are sweet, gentle, loving and playful, and seem very grateful to have a mama, daddy and sisters (not to mention air condition ;) Ella has been wonderful with them. They all get along great. No one has food issues or toy issues, thankfully. Magnolia and Louise act like soul sisters and are best buds. They love and respect Ella, but have really bonded with one other. Ella and Magnolia are big playmates. They are doing so well learning their manners and new rules. I'm so impressed with how quickly they have learned their boundaries both inside and out. They have been so good and easy to train that we are wishing we would have gotten a third:) Lots more to teach and learn- for them and us. Especially how to tell them apart in a split second!!
seriously, the best girl in the world.
seriously, the best girl in the world.
the girls chillaxin!
Magnolia and Ella spooning!
This is what the bed and the sofas look like on a daily basis ;)
Making herself at home!
It rips my heart out to think that this precious girl, Louise, spent a year and five months in a shelter. We are doing everything in our power to make up for that. As you can see she is taking to the "good life" quite well:) Can you even imagine what a bed filled with down pillows and comforter feels like after sleeping on concrete for so long. Poor baby has large bald, rub spots on her elbows from the concrete. They are slowly starting to reduce in size. Did I mention she is a lovebug?!
Enjoying some puppy-pops (aka ice cubes) after dinner!
A little bone-chewing time in the yard!
A house with three dogs definitely has more dog hair on the sofas, more scratches on the floor, a LOT more poop in the yard;), dog toys and bones in every room and on every sofa and the master bed, and we couldn't love it all more (well, except for that lots of poop part;)! They are lots of sugar, and lots of love, and lots of laughs!
I hope our two new precious rescue girls will encourage someone to please consider Adopting, and to also consider dogs that are older, have or have had heartworms or the dog who is shy or seemingly uninterested. Don't overlook the quiet, unimposing ones. I've found them to be the diamonds in the rough. When you bring them into your lives they will blossom and shine! I can't imagine overlooking these two and not making them a part of our lives. Our hearts are larger now because of them.
If you have any questions or concerns about adopting please leave them in the comment section and I will address them in my next "dog" post!
Thank you ALL so much for this wonderful welcome-home for the new girls! I love hearing about your animal loves and rescue stories and especially love that many of you are considering adopting or adding a second rescue to your family! All this dog-love and adoption-conversation I feel like I could pop! Love dogs and be well! xxoj.