Rescues are weird and living with their quirks takes patience. For example, every time we throw a toy or a ball for Emy to chase, Franny barks at Emy and occasionally chases her. She does this with other dogs, too. At the dog park, owners hurl tennis balls across the yard for their dog, who takes off like a dog is supposed to. Franny goes chasing after that dog, barking the whole way. We reason it’s due in part to the fact that Franny doesn’t know how to play with toys. Tug of war seems confusing, running after things also seems confusing. Squeaky toys, stuffed ones, chewy ones…she just doesn’t really get it. I imagine there are other underlying issues at play but still, rescues are weird and living with their quirks takes patience.
But they are SO WORTH IT. Right now, Sigot and I are in her bed reading and writing and whatnot, and we’ve got two pups between us. Well, one of them is at the foot of the bed and the other one is slowly annexing Sigot’s spot. Franny was our first rescue but she wasn’t supposed to be! We had decided, when we began looking for dogs a few years ago, that any potential dogs would remain potential dogs until we met them in person. We believe very much in the universe bringing things into our lives when we need them or they need us, and when we found a cute poodle mix that met most of our requirements (hypoallergenic, under 20 pounds, at least 3-years-old), we drove out to Lodi and then to a remote farm like, I don’t even know where.
The foster who lived there had a handful of adoptable dogs in her barn. Four or five of them were in an open-top kennel and one was in a crate by itself. They were all about the same size with at least a little bit of poodle in them. We saw the dog we had found online and I hesitated. She seemed bigger than the website indicated, but we went outside to the driveway and sat down to hang out with this dog that might be ours. She was happy and sweet and energetic, which worried me. We didn’t want a dog with a ton of energy; we were getting her primarily to be a companion for Sigot, who is disabled. The woman let the dog in the crate out after letting us know the dog, Holly, was in there because she was a jumper. The woman warned us that she was incredibly shy and it would take time for her to warm up to us, but as soon as the woman set her on the ground, Holly wandered over to Sigot and curled up in her lap. The other dog, the one we were there to see, got too excited and stepped all over Holly, who didn’t snap or snarl or fuss. She just rearranged herself in Sigot’s arms and signed.
We changed her name from Holly to Franny as soon as we were in the car. It is truly a case of who saved whom. Franny filled all sorts of holes we didn’t know we were missing. The structure she needed to adjust to her new home required our attention and patience and dedication. Franny has a lot of anxiety and can get very worried and worked up when the environment is too chaotic or disruptive. I had a previously planned trip to Texas two weeks after we brought Franny home, and while I was gone, that simple little change caused her to shit all over the floor like it was the world’s biggest toilet. She loves to cuddle and her favorite place is between Sigot and me with a part of her touching both of us. When I’m sad, she always makes me feel better.
Emy was a completely different kind of rescue. We weren’t looking for a second dog. The thought had crossed our minds a few times; since adopting Franny, we went from being casual dog enthusiasts to DOG SUPER MOMS and now I want to adopt every single dog that needs a home. Past experience proves that I can provide them all with adequate love.* But we were nowhere close to adding someone else to our family. Franny was coming out of her shell and growing more confident everyday.
Then we went to Sigot’s bio mom’s house for dinner. She was going to make us our favorite meal but when we got there with Franny, we found out that she bought gross low fat dairy products and as anyone knows, low fat and no fat dairy products result in shitty food. Don’t kid yourselves. It’s gross. Dairy is supposed to have fat in it. Sigot and I volunteered to run up the street for the proper supplies and left Franny behind to play with her dog cousins.
We got our supplies at the store and as we were leaving the parking lot of the shopping complex, I made a split second decision to use an exit that I didn’t normally use. That split second decision was a good one because we had to wait for a few pedestrians to pass, including a guy on a bike and his emaciated little rat dog. When the rat dog stopped to sniff at some McDonald’s food that had been thrown into the gutter, the guy kept going and the rat dog stayed where it was. That’s when we realized the emaciated rat dog was a stray. Without thinking, I stopped the car. Sigot jumped out and tried to coax the dog, who was now in one of two lanes of a busy street, over to her. The dog wanted a smashed up hamburger; the cars scared her but she was so hungry that she barely even paid attention to them. She had clearly been nursing puppies recently.
Eventually, Sigot got her out of the street and the dog was bothered enough that it trotted away from her down the sidewalk. Sigot followed behind and I tried to find a place to park my car after a woman screamed at me to get my damn dog out of the road. Do you honestly think that starving rat dog belongs to someone? Really? Come on.
As soon as I found a spot, parked and locked the car, and started after Sigot and the dog, she was on her way back. She didn’t look defeated or sad. She looked kind of at peace, in fact, because that scrawny little rat dog was in her arms. The dog wasn’t struggling or freaking out. Nope, she let Sigot cradle her in her arms all the way back to the car, her little paws folded in front of her.
Up close she looked even worse. What little hair she did have was course and patchy. Her skin was red and covered in a rash of some kind. She had blood coming from her vulva, which meant she had just had puppies recently. Like within a few hours or days recently. We called Sigot’s bio mom and asked her to get the spare crate ready. Then we debated looking for the puppies but ultimately decided the little girl needed some food and water while we figured out the next plan of action.
After a trip to three different clinics, we discovered that our little rescue was very young, possibly just a year old, and was not chipped. We placed found dog notices and spent the next 30 days trying to give our little bit, who we named Emerson, a nice comfy home. She was very quiet and timid initially. She only cuddled on her terms and preferred to curl up in the dog bed alone. She loved playing with Franny though and after a few days of rest and food and love, the personality we know today began to emerge.
Today Emy is loud and boisterous and high energy and sweet and cuddly. She loves getting butt rubs and she’ll give you a couple of little kisses after she smells your breath. She’s a mix of terriers and after regular feeding, her coat grew back in about 3 different textures. She has the rough, course hair. She also has soft, silky hair on her head, neck, chest, and front legs. She is our silky little lioness. She has a darling little face and tiny ears that flop forward and are covered with the softest wisps of hair. The word strangers most commonly use to describe her is “spirited.” They are not wrong.
Emy was wearing a tagless collar and part of a leash when we found her. The part of the leash still attached to her collar had been severed about 8 inches from the clasp. Severed neatly, as if someone had cut it with scissors. The first time she threw up inside, I rushed to help her outside. Franny seems to prefer puking outside where she can eat more grass, so I assumed Emy would like the same. I got her out the door and she took off down the stairs, hoarking as she ran, and she didn’t stop until she was halfway around the adjacent building. She cowered when I found her and I wanted to cut the person who had done this to her. Her bladder is enormous and she loves the outdoors. We suspect she spent a majority of her young life in a crate before she was cut loose.
Together, they are the Rescue Rangers. They continually teach us about the power of forgiveness, not just of each other but also of ourselves. They give us a reason each day. If the pain is so bad, if the depression is so bad, it is at least slightly more bearable because these precious souls are in our lives. They require patience and love, and we’re more than happy to provide both, even if we’re not always that good at it. If you’re considering a pet, please do consider a rescue. They may need extra care and attention, but they’re well worth the emotional investment. I mean, how can you say they aren’t?
*If I were independently wealthy. No, seriously. Ask my parents about the cats we had when I was a kid.