Photo courtesy of Philip Longden
In November of 2014, I adopted a blue heeler named Buddy. When Buddy and I met he was 11.5 years old and had outlived his owner. He needed a home and I knew that if he was put into an animal shelter he would live there for the remainder of his days. People tend to stay away from the older dogs which is understandable as they do not live as long and potentially have more health issues, but it is also very sad as often it is not their fault that they are there. Buddy lived with us for seven months before passing away from liver complications. I believe I gave him a good final few months which I am sure he was grateful for. I was happy to give him a home but in a selfish way, I wish that I could have had him longer than I did because he was a sweet boy with an adorable personality. There is not a day that goes by that I do not miss him.
My friends and co-workers said it would not be long after Buddy left us that I would adopt again. I did not believe them as I thought Boomer was destined to be a solo dog for the rest of his years. My opinion changed however in September of last year. I was bringing Boomer to work with me and let him play at a pet park on my lunch breaks. Boomer had never been interested in playing with the other dogs at the park as he is very ball-driven and that is what he likes to spend his time on, chasing and retrieving the ball. Each time I brought Boomer to the pet park he would seek out other dogs and play with them. It was interesting to me and got me to thinking he might benefit from a playmate.
When I adopted Boomer I remembered that the shelter volunteers recommended to me to get an opposite gender pet if I already had a pet in my home. When I adopted Boomer my now ex-boyfriend had a female dog, so I got a male dog. The theory is that opposite gender dogs cause less jealousy between the pair of dogs. After seeing Boomer’s interaction between the girl dog when we got him and between Buddy and Boomer, I happen to agree.
Around October of last year, I began searching on Petfinder.com for a new dog. Notice I did not say a new puppy. My main reason for no puppies was that I did not want to deal with the house training and the potential of my house being torn up by a curious pup. The other reason that I did not want a puppy was, like I mentioned above, lots of people overlook the older dogs. I knew I did not want to seek out a dog as old as Buddy, but one perhaps 5 to 6 years old. I searched for a few months, looking for another blue heeler but this time a female around middle aged. I found many dogs that I was interested in, posting them on my personal Facebook page with the comment “maybe my next dog?” and my friends would all weigh in. The dogs I posted would often be adopted within a few days of me posting. It was exciting for them but frustrating to me as it was apparent that I was taking too long to make a decision on which dog I wanted to adopt.
After the fourth dog I was interested in got adopted I changed my search criteria to include the “young” age group. It would not include puppies but it did widen my search. Although I was looking for a traditional blue heeler, a little black and tan dog appeared in my search. Her name was Jovi and she was listed as a “Heeler Mix”. She was 1.5 years old and had been at the shelter for a few months. I have always joked that I wanted a “mini-me” version of Boomer as I think it would be funny to have a large and tiny version of similar looking dogs. Although Jovi is not what I would describe as a tiny version of Boomer, she does resemble him and she is slightly smaller.
I made the decision in December to get Jovi. Unfortunately, Jovi was about 10 hours away from where Boomer and I lived, which resulted in us having to take a road trip in the winter. We waited for a break in winter weather and took off on a quick 3-day road trip to meet and possibly adopt Jovi in early January of this year.
Some of my friends thought I was crazy to travel so far for a mutt. There was also the fact that all of the other dogs that I had been interested in had been adopted quickly but Jovi remained available for months. Some viewed that as her possibly being a bad dog and that was why she was still there. Anytime anyone would mention her being a bad dog I always responded to the negative comment with the same answer “Or maybe she is meant to be my dog”.
The day I went to meet Jovi I was nervous, mostly because I was worried about Boomer and how he would react to another dog being in our home. When I arrived at the shelter the volunteer I had been talking to for almost a month about Jovi greeted me at the door and took me back to the kennels to meet Jovi.
We walked back to the kennel where I spotted Jovi right away. “Does she look like what you thought?” the volunteer asked. I thought to myself, you mean a mini version of my dog, yes. I quickly nodded as I watched Jovi bark loudly at my presence. We leashed her up and took her out to the lobby where she quickly calmed down. She sniffed her way around the room as the volunteer and I chatted about Jovi.
The volunteer mentioned that Jovi was a really good dog and thought it was strange that Jovi had been at the shelter for as long as she had been about six months. Her owners had relinquished her because they had several children, with one on the way, and Jovi was trying to herd the kids. It made sense that she would, as that is the job of her breed, to round up cattle. Granted kids are not cows but to her breed, she was doing what she was supposed to. It was just another mismatched pair, the wrong breed with the wrong owner. I see this often in my line of work. It is truly a shame because more often than not people dump the dog off at the shelter thinking that the dog is the problem.
Next would be the true test, introducing Boomer to Jovi. I brought Boomer into the lobby where he and Jovi sniffed all over each other. The interaction was successful and they even engaged in some playful tussling, which reduced my nervousness about them getting along.
I told the volunteer that I would like to adopt Jovi and just like that, I had another dog. As I walked the dogs out to the car the volunteer said her goodbye to Jovi and told her that she loved her and to be a good girl. It was a sweet moment and made me realize that I could never be a volunteer at a shelter as I know I would become too attached to the dogs. I would be happy for them when they got a furever home, but sad to see them go.
As we drove away from the shelter I turned on the CD player and introduced Jovi to the music of Bon Jovi. It was important for her to understand that she was now a Bon Jovi fan, like Boomer and myself.
We arrived at the hotel several Bon Jovi songs later where I was now faced with having a dog I did not know at all in a hotel room. The risk of accidents and/or mischief was high. But just as the volunteer had stated, Jovi was a good girl. I laid her blanket down on the carpet and she snuggled right in and stayed there all night.
We have had Jovi for just over a month now and I am delighted with her. She is really well behaved and eager to please. Boomer and Jovi seem to really like each other and play extremely well together which is exactly what I wanted for Boomer. It will be interesting to travel with two dogs now and hopefully, we will find out how that will go in early spring as I am working on our annual spring road trip.