Many of you are aware that in early August, 2012, we lost our beloved black dog, Maddy. You can remember her story here. After only three weeks of mourning we adopted Porter, an adorable, silly border collie mix from the Oregon Humane Society to bring life back into our household.
Porter is a fantastic dog; bright, active, silly and far, far too smart for us! We tried EVERYTHING to keep him busy and happy during the day while we were at work. Toys were bought and disappeared out the dog door never to be seen again. We left lights on, music playing, and bought enormous rawhide chews in the hopes that he couldn’t get them out the dog door to no avail. In addition to losing various toys, bones, and a kong we experienced losses of our own. After he began taking all of our shoes out of the mudroom and alternating between burying them and merely displaying them around the yard we bought a new shoe cabinet. Next we came home to one of my jackets outside with the lining ripped out. After mommy had a mini-meltdown over that one at least the coats were safe but he merely moved on to alternatives.
Each day we’d come home wondering what we’d find. At different times we found his blanket, the car remote for the house alarm, a cookbook and then he moved on to the fruit. We never took any pictures of the carnage, unable to even be angry over it all by this time, but for a week straight every day we’d come home to find fruit from the island fruit bowl strewn all over the yard.
As we headed to the beach for the long New Years eve weekend, Jim broached the topic we’d so far been avoiding; what if we needed to get him a playmate to keep him occupied during the day? Neither of us wanted a second dog. One active, too intelligent teenager was enough but we were seriously at our wits end. I had spent endless hours researching training tips for bored dogs online and we’d tried them all except one…… a companion.
The search began and it was obvious that many cute dogs needed new homes. We were looking for a dog Porters size or smaller, taking into account the four of us in the camper! We wanted someone around his age and play level so they’d be well matched. We spent days looking at all the local rescues and turned our minds away from many a cute pup when it was obvious that they weren’t quite right.
Finally, on January 7 I checked out the Marion County Animal Shelter in Salem and found Aspen. She was listed as dog of the week and we were immediately interested. A five year old black lab she had been picked up by animal control only 4 days earlier but her owners hadn’t come for her. She was house trained, sweet and liked other dogs. Could she be the one?
Fate intervened when Jim’s parents, who live in Salem, agreed to go and check her out to save us a trip if she wasn’t the right one. They fell instantly in love! Due to strict regulations the shelter told her they wouldn’t put a hold on her for them, requiring the actual potential owners to do so, but they were so excited about her potential as a mate for Porter that we left work early and hurried down. Because mom and dad had spent so much time with her, one of the wonderful workers at the shelter did, in fact, put a hold on her without our knowledge and thank goodness for it. As we arrived two other families were there wanting to meet her!
The initial meeting went perfectly and all that was left was for Porter to meet her and so we arranged for a hold until Saturday morning. Although it was a rather artificial setting for a true meeting, things went well and by noon we had become a two dog family! She fit in immediately, hopping eagerly into the back seat of the car before taking a good long nap on the way home.
The weekend proved interesting for all of us. Porter was a bit concerned with where his new place fit into the pack. Aspen was all kisses and tail wags. I was fighting a nasty head cold. And yet it was wonderful! From the start we could feed them right next to each other. They take turns sleeping on various dog beds throughout the house with no hint of anxiety over the other having been there. Porter even dug up the long missing kong and brought it in the house, still full of 3 1/2 month peanut butter and caked in frozen dirt. Once I cleaned it up for them and added fresh peanut butter they took turns licking and chewing on it. We kept waiting for something to happen and yet, it never did.
The true test was when we headed back to work. Jim set up a dog cam and we were able to watch them in and out of the dog door, playing in the yard, and napping at the same time each afternoon. In just 5 days Porter is much happier and sure of his place. Aspen is a sweetheart who’s entire body wiggles as she wags her tail while eating dinner. Our fruit now remains safely on the counter. Life is good at the Delameters.
The next test comes up in the next couple of weeks when we take our first camping trip and try out 4 bodies in a not too large camper. Aspens’ leash training continues as she makes progress each day and even though this wasn’t in the plans, we’re all sort of happy that we have a new addition to the family. Once again we’re a bit astounded by how lucky we’ve been in our adoptions. Maddy was wonderful and well mannered, well trained and a true delight to live with. Porter is bright and inquisitive and a very silly guy who always makes us laugh. Aspen is calm and loving and only wants to please. How do all these amazing dogs end up in shelters? Perhaps it is just so we have the joy and privilege of bringing them into our home and family.
We still miss Maddy and always will. She was the light of our lives for over three years and it seems impossible to comprehend that 6months ago we were having that amazing camping trip with her in the San Juans and now she is gone. But now we’re moving on with two new and wonderful and very different dogs who make it fun to come home. As I type this Porter is crashed on the bed and Aspen is snoring so loud we need to turn up the volume on the tv and I have to laugh at how unexpected life can be and isn’t that what makes it all worthwhile?