Along with white picket fences and apple pie the "american dream" seems to often include a family dog. Especially in Colorado. So many couples approach us wanting to adopt a dog before they start a family, or when their children are still young. Ideally it does seem wonderful for babies and toddlers to grow up with the warmth, love and snuggles of the family dog. However, in rescue, we see over and over again that many great dogs just aren't suited to live with young children. Keeping track of a young, crawling or toddling child is hard enough for parents 24/7 and then add an animal into the mix and often its a recipe for trouble.
Sweet, gorgeous MOKI was the apple of his human's eye before the baby arrived. Their life centered around Moki - he went to work with his mom and hung out at the office all day with the other dogs, hiked at lunch time and went to training some evenings. Life was great. Then one baby arrived and a year later another baby came. The house was busy, noisy, mom was stressed, going to work didn't always happen but Moki rolled with it all and enjoyed his new life as a huge stuffed animal for the babies. One day though it was nap time and Moki was sleeping under the crib and dad inadvertently closed the door of the bedroom leaving Moki in the room unsupervised with a toddler and a sleeping baby. No one knows exactly what happened but Moki nipped at the toddler, or moved his head quickly and clipped him with his teeth. No one will ever know. But suddenly Moki went from beloved family pet to out the door.
When my son was little I used to tell him "DOGS SAY NO WITH THEIR TEETH" and this is the true sad reality for thousands of dogs in America who are put in situations where they tell little people NO with their teeth.
It is never acceptable for a dog to growl or nip a child. However it is also not acceptable to believe that your dog will tolerate anything your child dishes out and supervision around young children and dogs is critical as is teaching proper behavior around dogs. At Summit Dog Rescue we just aren't fans of placing dogs in homes with small children. Some rescues have firm "NO CHILDREN UNDER 6" rules. We on occasion have dogs we feel are good candidates for young children, but its a case by case basis. We have decided that before a dog is placed in a family with small children our board needs to specifically review that placement beforehand. We would never want to place a child at risk, or set one of our dogs up for failure.
As often happens, an email came in that had been forwarded many times already, and it was being forwarded to me from MDR's director. An adorable dog needing help ASAP, this is her last hope, she's on death row slated for euthanasia. This time the dog was a four-month-old husky
X puppy they were calling Autumn.
Autumn was in a small shelter with few to no adopters outside of Dallas. This time, the message was from the area's only animal control officer, who was trying to find her one last chance. Our previous foster dog had been adopted, so we had room in our home, and I replied asking MDR's director to find out more.
Well this email had been circulating for a bit, so it turned out that Autumn really was hours from meeting an early demise for no reason other than space and no one stepping up to claim or adopt her. We scrambled to get the most direct line of
contact we could, and after a little confusion that perhaps she was lost, somehow the word got to the right person in the nick of time. There happened to be a transport heading from Texas to Colorado the next day, and there happened to be a spot on it for Autumn.
Even though my husband had been gone for a week tending to his elderly mother out of state, and even though Autumn was arriving the day after he returned and I started an intensive workshop the same day, we made sure to be ready for Autumn. I don't say this to brag or try to sound like heros. I say this because for anyone who volunteers with dog rescue, this is normal.
Sometimes we don't know how it's going to happen, but when that email arrives with those hopeful little brown eyes gazing into the camera, you just make room for that innocent heart to have a warm bed in your home if at all possible. And so often, it's possible...you just might not be sure how, other than to trust the outcome.
So after a series of very helpful people got Autumn from Dallas to Denver, then Denver to Boulder, and finally Boulder to Nederland, Autumn made it to our house where she casually ignored the cats, gave the old mastiff a lick (which normally would garner a growl but instead he wagged and sniffed her), and settled down for some gentle playing with our young great dane/lab.
Because of the crazy luck that had gotten her to us, for the first time we renamed a foster. We called her Nyx...in mythology, Nyx was the daughter of Chaos. Even though foster names are usually temporary, we thought it fitting for the time being.
For three weeks this little girl snuggled her way into our lives. She learned house training, sharing toys, eating politely, and even recall off-leash outside. Being part husky, she had a sweet and sassy little way of conversing with everyone in the house. To help her learn that she should eat only from her own bowl, we taught her to "go to the restaurant!" at mealtime, and she quickly figured out that meant to go to her own spot to eat.
When I was under the weather for a day, she snuggled beside me by the fire. When my husband napped on the couch, she would hop up and give him kisses and make her sweet little mumbly sounds.
I mention these details to illustrate just a little bit of why we fell in love with her. We fall for each foster in a different way, but Nyx, unfettered by abuse or neglect or dire illness, was so easy to add to the pack. Every time a new foster arrives my husband and I agree that she/he isn't staying. But in this case, we started the conversation about adopting Nyx ourselves..
But the applications were rolling in. We knew we would uphold MDR's high requirements (and then some!) for whomever we considered for Nyx. With every promising application, my heart grew heavier at the thought of saying goodbye. Then a good friend in Denver applied to adopt her...volunteers interviewed him and agreed that he would be a great home! But even knowing that we would get constant reports, see her regularly, and probably even get to puppysit from time to time, as I filled out the adoption paperwork the night before he picked her up, I did so with tears streaming down my face and Nyx sleeping at my feet.
So many people put so much effort and hope and love and energy into each rescue dog that is given the chance to live a happy life. When we hand them over to their forever home, we are not just handing over a dog who lived with us for a while. We are handing over everyone's effort and hope and love and energy, so we do our very best to make every match as perfect as possible.
My heavy heart lifted the minute our friend called excitedly--just as I was finishing that paperwork, as a matter of fact--and told me he was at the pet store gathering a long list of goodies for his new girl. I could tell he was the newest heart that she'd snuggled up to. And I let go of being sad and instead found gratitude that we'd gotten to be part of her chaotic path to happiness!
Autumn who became Nyx is now Holly, and is happily prancing around her lovely new home and loving her new yard. She's had the holidays to meet her new grandparents and extended family, and bond with her new and forever pappa. We get emails and calls, questions and reports, and the adorable photos are starting to come in, which we add to the pics we see of the other fosters with their new families.
This is why we do it. Some of the dogs have more complicated stories, so we might spend our time with them building trust, nursing them to health, or simply trying to unlock the mystery of who they are. Some, like Nyx, haven't suffered yet at someone's careless or abusive hands and instead found their way into the temporary watch of some good soul like that animal control officer outside of Dallas, whose email got to the right place at the right time to deliver one more little soul out of chaos and into a happy forever.
Rescue is difficult on a daily basis, deciding who lives and who dies. If we don't have a foster home for a dog then we usually have to pass. An open foster home allows us the possibility of saving a life. Meet Layla - a sweet, gorgeous, loving young girl who was found outside a Dollar Store in rural Colorado. She was taken to a pretty dismal shelter in a nearby town and spent the next two months lying on a concrete floor 23 hours and 45 minutes every day ... waiting for the angel of a volunteer who goes in an walks the dogs. Dogs in the cells around Layla were adopted, or pulled because rescue - but no one came for Layla. Soon, her only option out appeared to be in a black garbage sack, euthanized.
We saw the plea for several dogs at that shelter... and we said "Give us the dog no one else wants"... and that was Layla. We had a foster home empty and Layla went to the first home who ever loved her. But Layla was completely terrified of the two big labs at the house, and so it seemed poor Layla was once again in limbo.
Layla went to boarding while we figured out a plan B. Luckily our wonderful trainer Chris had space in his home and in his heart to take this sweetie pie home and work with her. Chris uses only positive reinforcement training, and also uses a lot of pack dynamic training with lots of exercise. So Layla has been Chris's sidekick going out every day with a pack of 6 to 10 dogs on huge hikes (five miles minimum) and coming home tired and happy. Layla's anxiety around other dogs has disappeared under Chris's gentle but firm guidance - and she is doing wonderfully in a home filled with love and dogs.
Now the final trick is to find Layla that person who will love her forever. She deserves that... she has a heart of gold and its still open and trusting, even after all the pain, abandonment and betrayal she has suffered.
Please help us find a home for Layla for Christmas... and please know everyone of you who donated to Layla's rescue that she is so loved now, and only good things await her.
Layla now has an adoption pending! We are so thrilled for this sweet girl to finally have a furever home. She deserves all the love and tenderness in the world. Yeah Layla!