I was the kid who carried around a dog encyclopedia and could identify dogs based upon their breed characteristics and rattle off the ideal family for that particular breed. My parents never gave in to my desire to have a dog, probably knowing exactly how much work a dog is and how much of it the child who begged for said dog would end up doing. My sister and I got kittens from Santa Claus when I was eleven, which served to distract from the dog all through high school and through most of college. When I started grad school, I felt like a cat was a good starting point, but Hubs and I always talked about when we might want to get a dog and what sort to get.
It always felt like a dog was in the far distant future, but when we had been married about a year, I started to feel a serious yearning for a baby, which I knew was NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. This yearning combined with the chance meeting of a homeless Great Pyrenees, who had probably gotten dumped close by, to make me very interested in Pyrs. In spite of being super hungry, the homeless doggie took food from my hand super-gently and never jumped or growled. I cried all the way home from this meeting and insisted to Hubs that I was going to go back and get her (he insisted that I was crazy). We didn’t actually know much about Pyrs as a breed, and based on their size, he thought there was not a chance of one of these big dogs being happy in our town house.
Luckily, I put my expert dog researching skills to work and I had the fortuitous example of our new neighbors’ dog, Sasha. I discovered that some Pyrs are perfectly happy without a yard, preferring air conditioning and a couch to humidity and a dog house. Another totally awesome thing about them is that Pyrs have been bred to guard livestock (from rabbits to alpacas), so they are usually great with smaller animals and kids. They are also fairly low energy, meaning that the time commitment to exercising them is much lower than a significantly smaller, but way higher energy dog, like a Jack Russell. Add to this that there are TONS of these dogs in rescue (based on my-adorable-white-fluffball-puppy-grew-up-to-be-a-giant-drooling-barker syndrome), and the fit seemed perfect for us.
Fast forward to early 2010. I had been in contact with two rescue groups and combing Petfinder listings for months. After inquiring about several other dogs that didn’t seem quite right, we got an email from one of the rescue groups about Tonks. I went on a Wednesday afternoon to pick her up to “try her out” (as if we ever would have been able to give her back). She went with me right away and laid down in the car like she’d done it a million times. I got her home, she met the cats and Hubs, and the rest is history. After weeks of energy spent searching for the perfect dog for us, my soul finally felt at peace, as though Tonks was meant to be in our family.
I’m going to leave you with our doggie wish list, which we wrote months before even hearing about Tonks:
- Great Pyrenees (check)
- Great with kitties/kids (Duncan intimidates her)
- An excellent therapy dog candidate (we recently missed completing our Delta registration by one task, but we’re going to try again soon!)
- Sweet, friendly, gentle personality (she has it in spades!)
- A minimal barker (she definitely is by Pyr standards)
- 2-5 years old (she was 5 years old when we got her)
- House/crate/leash trained (yes, though she exploded out of one cloth crate)
- Okay alone during the day (she’s extremely happy to “guard” the couch)
- Happy inside/doesn’t need a yard (she doesn’t even like to lay around outside with me)
- Beautiful (see below)
- Available from rescue when we’re ready (the timing couldn’t have been more perfect)
Morals of this story: The right rescue dog for you is probably out there AND be careful what you wish for because you just might get it!