I rescued my two dogs separately. We got Zoe first (dog pictured on the right in the photo). I had been a dog groomer my whole adult life and had left my family dog behind when I moved out. I felt like I was the only dog groomer in the world with no dog. We moved to Oregon and decided it was the right time and we found Zoe at the Oregon Humane Society. It was definitely love at first site. She was laying on her bed with her nose tucked under her tail. Just calmly looking around. Not barking like all the other dogs. We called her over to us and she licked our hands and wagged her tail and that was that. She’s an amazing dog, one of the smartest I’ve ever met. She knows over 50 different words and many tricks.
We decided about a year after adopting Zoe that she needed a friend but we weren’t seriously looking. One of my friends from the dog park told me that there was another dog at the same shelter that looked just like Zoe. I looked up the dog right there and she did look exactly like Zoe and she was also from the same small town. Our shelter takes transfers from other shelters from around the country. I went home that night and showed the picture to my husband. I didn’t think anything would come of it because my husband was pretty set on not getting another dog. He shocked me when he said, “You can go look at the dog, if you want to.” The next day, I loaded up Zoe and we were off on what was about to become our greatest adventure yet.
When I got to the shelter, I found Zoe’s look-a-like dog. She was sitting in the back of her kennel run in the corner shivering and looking around frantically. She was a shut down, mess of a dog. You could immediately tell how scared she was. She would not come up and visit. I found out that she had been rescued from a burning house and that she was traumatized. The shelter staff was recommending that she only go to an experienced home. I thought, “Well… I’m experienced. I’ve had dogs my whole life, worked with dogs professionally and I sort of know what I’m doing.. I could make this work.” I had them bring her out to the meeting room and I met her there. She was so skittish that she wouldn’t let anyone touch her. The shelter worker even commented about how she could never be off leash because she’d probably run away. I was sort of feeling nervous about taking her, worried that I might not be experienced enough. I had a lot of doubts. I decided to go get Zoe from the car and see if they would even get along. I brought Zoe in and they didn’t really care about each other, one way or the other. They sniffed each other and Zoe was very relaxed about the other dog. She did some of her tricks for the shelter staff and occasionally sniffed the other dog. We walked them a bit together and then I went out to call my husband to see what he thought. After describing the dog to my husband, he was neutral! I thought for sure he’d say no after hearing how traumatized she was and how I couldn’t even touch her. He said if I wanted to adopt her to do it. So I took the plunge, signed the paperwork and took her home.
The first few days were really rough, the new dog came in immediately growling at our cats and when she got over that, then she wanted to chase them. I was actually worried she might try to kill one. We still couldn’t touch her and she had to wear a long leash at all times. She got along beautifully with Zoe, though.
I began training her immediately, with positive reinforcement training. How do you train a dog you cannot touch? She was so afraid of hands moving towards her that she was unable to follow any cookies and didn’t really want to take them out of our hands, either. We started tossing treats her way any time she did anything appropriate. If she chose to lay down on her bed, we had a treat party. If she sat politely, she got treats. If she came near me, I would drop a treat for her. She slowly began to trust me. About a month after I adopted her, I got my first kiss from her. Right on the face and I cried tears of joy. She was finally starting to trust me. We decided to name her Phoenix because after all, she did rise from the ashes.
Slowly things got better with Phoenix. It was like that one kiss opened her up completely to trusting me. She started learning some of Zoe’s tricks and we discovered how much she loved toys. She became the life of the party. She is always up for a game or a snack. She is always ready to play and do tricks. It took her a little longer to start trusting my husband.. around 6 months to a year before she would let him touch her but even he was charmed by humorous personality.
Three years later and Phoenix has become my heart dog. She is amazing. She has taught me so much about dog training, patients and love. She is the best friend a girl could ever have. She is always the first one ready to cuddle, she is always curled up beside me and she is always there for me, even when I’m having a sad day.
Both of my girls are great dogs, they make me laugh and they bring so much joy into our lives. They rescued me more than they will ever know and I love them dearly. They are everything.
If you would like to know more about Zoe and Phoenix because there’s a ton more, I do have a blog: zoephee.blogspot.com and they also have a youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr30JxP3JUC78xj6GxVhNDQ