Thursday, February 23, 2012

Our fur babies. A (cautionary) tale of love

I thought it might be time to do a little About Us post. Well really, an About the Pets post since they're so darned cute.

Some background: I live with my partner M in Madison, Wisconsin. We recently moved to the midwest from Philadelphia, PA and we're still adjusting to small town life. And owning a car. And shopping at big box stores...

We moved because M finished grad school and received a job offer that he couldn't really refuse (makes us sound like we're in the mob doesn't it? I like it that way... more mysterious). So we packed up our little apartment, I left my job and we road tripped to our new life in Wisconsin with pets in tow.

Which brings me to our fur babies. Baxter is our sweet, if not aloof, domestic tabby we adopted from the Philadelphia SPCA. Actually, we started out by fostering him because he was involved in a legal battle. His owners had abandoned their property leaving Baxter behind and the SPCA and the city govt were suing the owners. Home abandonment and animal abandonment for that matter, were/are pretty common in Philly due to the high unemployment rates and low-income status of many residents. It's sad but true.

Isn't he a pretty boy? And large. Like nearly 20 lb.

And very prim as well.
So Baxter had been languishing away at the PSCPA for nearly six months while his court battle dragged on since no one could legally adopt him. After a particularly bad row one Sunday M and I decided we needed a pet in our lives (still not really sure why our fight lead to us getting a pet but oh well). So off we went to the shelter and home we came with Baxter.

Sleeping on Daddy's stinky hockey equipment.
Baxter and M bonded right away. M is definitely his person and they love each other very much. I think they're so cute when Baxter snuggles up with M on the sofa. They're best buds and M makes up songs in Baxter's honor.

B and I pretty much tolerate each other. Don't get me wrong, he's a got cat but I'm not really a cat person and B is content to pretend I don't exist most of the time. Unless of course I've got some tuna or a really soft fuzzy blanket. Or preferably both. Then he's my best friend. Ah, cats...

B thought my hair might be fun to play with.
And yes, despite the fact that he doesn't have claws, it hurt.
Well about six months after we got Baxter I got that feeling again.. you know the time for more pets feeling. What? You don't get that feeling? Well much to M's chagrin, I certainly do. Enter Dean. We knew that we would get a dog this time around and I started researching adoptable pets in the area. I'm dead set against buying from breeders and didn't want a puppy anyway.

Most of the dogs available for adoption at the Philly shelters are pit bulls and while I certainly don't have anything wrong with these often misunderstood babies, many people including some in our respective families, do. And so pitties were out.

I then started looking at other breed rescues in the area and came across a retired racing greyhound adoption group. I've always loved greyhounds and thought they might be a good match. I'm not going to mention the name of our adoption group because we ultimately had a bad experience with these folks and I'd like to be as polite as possible on the internet.

Fast-forward several months to me convincing M that we both wanted a greyhound and we adopted Dean. And our lives changed forever. Dean is wonderful and he's a very good dog. Now. Over six months after we adopted him.
Dean on his first day home in Philly. They pant like that when they're nervous.
 We didn't know it then...
When we first got Dean he had come straight from the race track to our house. Hadn't seen windows or stairs before. Or bicycles or strollers or any of the million + other things that are constantly around in the big city. And what can I say? It was a rough transitional period for the pup and us alike. D and I bonded right away but he and M took a long time to warm up to each other. It was tough going there for awhile.

Dean today. MUCH happier and MUCH more
relaxed as you can see.

Now I think we're finally on the easier side of things and we're all much happier. Plus I think our life in Madison is much more doggy friendly than in Philly (we have a backyard for example) and that helps a great deal.
My handsome boy.

We love both our boys and haven't ruled out getting another dog sometime in the future. Probably another greyhound. They're wonderful dogs and make excellent pets. All my comments above about how stressful our doggy adjustment period was should be taken with a healthy dose of salt. Dean has separation anxiety which makes him a bit more complicated than the average pup.M and I both grew up with dogs but this was our first dog together. That you know, we didn't have our moms to  walk and feed it for us. Plus M was in the middle of finishing grad school and THAT was a stressful time. 

Basically we were noobs who were in hindsight probably way too stressed to get a dog. And our adoption agency was pretty much useless when it came to helping us make the transition from kennel to home with Dean.

But it all worked out in the end and we're all so much happier now with both our boys in our lives. I can't imagine our house without them now. Plus we have his and her's pets which works out really well most of the time. We've agreed though that if we do ever get a second dog M will be the one to pick him/her out since it'll probably be his dog.

Do you have fur babies? If so, did you go through a tough transition when you brought them home? Would you change anything about the way in which you did? 

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