Royal Canin Canada is Passionate for Pets! Scientific evidence shows the numerous benefits pets bring to our lives – to their owners and also to society as a whole. This blog post is part of a series that showcases the important role pets play in peoples’ lives by providing companionship and support, and enabling social connections.
When I was six, we chose Harry from the Humane Society; he was our first family dog. He was big and hairy, like a sheepdog, but was enough of a mutt that when entered in our local fair’s dog show in 1985, he earned the prize for “Most Indistinguishable Breed”.
He refused to learn tricks, didn’t really listen, and failed obedience school – but he loved to pull my sister and me around in a wagon.
As he grew older, we decided Harry should have a fur-sibling. With a newspaper ad for free puppies, we piled into the car (Harry included) and went to find our newest family member. Of this “accident” litter of ten tiny black puppies, nine ran to humans for attention and one ran to Harry.
We left with the puppy that chose Harry.
The whole ride home, my parents told us he couldn’t get more attention than Harry – it wouldn’t be fair. Though I was careful to not treat them differently, the moment that ball of black fluff stretched out on my lap, I knew he was my canine soulmate.
Oscar was gentle, sweet, loyal, and stubborn. If I told him to come, he’d run away, usually to find something smelly to roll in. When I told him he couldn’t sleep on the bed, he’d sneak up while I was asleep. If I tried to push him off, he’d melt into a 70lb wet noodle. He got along with every dog or cat he ever met, and he LOVED to chase squirrels.
Oscar was with me for all my “growing up” milestones. He graduated high school, university, and vet school with me. He helped me through multiple broken hearts. He moved with me from Ontario to BC when I started my ‘adult’ life and career, and he moved back to Ontario when I decided to be closer to my family.
Ralphie came to me in my third year of vet school. I’d just had knee surgery and was confined to the couch. While running errands, my boyfriend found a Labradoodle puppy on the way to a rescue. The dog had outgrown his crate, was an out of control shedder and was past “cute puppy” and entering “awkward”. The only thing he hadn’t outgrown were his enormous feet! My boyfriend brought him home as a get well present. And what’s better than a three month old, non-housetrained puppy when you can’t walk?
He was a terrible puppy. He chewed my textbooks, he ate my DVDs, and stole an entire roast just out of the oven. Neighbors complained about his constant barking. My roommate decided she didn’t want to live with the world’s worst puppy and moved out.
I was overwhelmed. As a last resort I bought him a crate, and everything changed. Housetraining was finally successful. My belongings were safe. I started sending Ralphie and Oscar to doggy daycare; they’d run all day and come home exhausted. I learned the validity of “a tired dog is a good dog”. Turns out Ralphie’s passion in life was showing off.
One month before Oscar’s 13th birthday, he collapsed at home. I rushed him to the vet and spent two days running tests trying to find an answer. On the third day, when I went to visit him before work, Oscar gave me “the look”. I knew it was time to say goodbye. It was so incredibly difficult that even now, years later, I can’t think about him without getting completely choked up.
Ralphie was now the only dog. He loved the attention, but seemed lonely. He was quieter, pickier with his food, and didn’t play with other dogs at the dog park anymore. Browsing petfinder.com, I saw a litter of Labradoodles at a rescue. The next day, we went to choose Ralphie’s little brother. Ralphie wanted nothing to do with the puppies, so the choice was left to us. We chose a little black boy who ran under the deck to dig in the dirt and wouldn’t come out. We should’ve known it was a sign of trouble.
Leroy loves coffee. When I drove him to be neutered and stopped for gas on the way, as soon as I got out of the car he jumped over the back seat, took the lid off my travel mug, and drank my entire coffee. I neutered him anyway.
Leroy is a busy dog. He insists on going to the dog park every day, and sometimes even that isn’t enough to satisfy him. When he’s bored, he lies on his back, wags his tail, and moans. It’s ridiculous, adorable, and we fall for it every time. If I could only use one word to describe Leroy, it would be happy.
Rescue dogs seem to have a greater appreciation for the life you provide them. The dogs in my family have been laid back and versatile, and there’s no question where their loyalty lies. They love everyone they meet, but when their ‘person’ is away, they stand sentinel until that person returns.
I feel so lucky to have shared – and continue to share – my life with amazing adopted animals. They find joy in simple things, adventure in every day, and help me find happiness and excitement in the little things I do.
Sara is a veterinarian by day and internet vigilante by night, sharing her life with her husband, two Labradoodles, two adopted cats and far too much kitchen gadgetry.