Rescue Me! The story of my Mastiff, Elvis
This is a little different from most of my posts, but my new dog is a big part of my life, especially since I am home everyday with him. I realized today after a stressful couple of days, that he was acting out my emotions. He had been nuts for a few days and I was getting frustrated by the way he was acting. Pacing, barking, not settling down. I wasn’t settled either and started blaming him for some of my stress, but in reality, he was showing me stress that I hadn’t registered. I don’t notice my stress which is one of the reasons my adrenals got as bad as they did. Stress is like background noise for me. The kind of noise you don’t notice until it is gone. This is the story of my “rescue” dogs and how I have come to realize what they bring to us and how they actually rescue us right back. You don’t always get the dog you want, but you ALWAYS get the one you need! I have had the same experience with cats, but that is for another day! So, if you are an animal lover, read on! If not, well, maybe read it anyway!
My family recently adopted a dog from the shelter I volunteer at. A sweet, loving, playful Mastiff mix aptly named Elvis. We did not name him, he was surrendered by a family that had him for 5 years. I am not sure if the name was given to him before or after his singing ability and lip curl was discovered, but he lives up to the name nonetheless. This is my 3rd rescue dog, but I never fully understood the impact we have on these animals or the impact they have on us.
Our first rescue, Bighead Fred adopted my husband immediately, but I didn’t see that. I saw my husband fall in love with him and we brought him home. The second dog we adopted from a shelter was Xena, a sweet German Shepherd that adopted me, but I didn’t see that either. I saw us giving a wonderful animal a home. Their pasts were unknown, both were taken into the shelter as strays and had clearly had some hardships in life. Isn’t is nice we were able to rescue them? I see know how they rescued us too. How they actually adopted us and not the other way around.
In the beginning of the year I began walking dogs at our local animal shelter. My Shepherd had passed away about a year prior and we weren’t ready for another dog yet, but I missed being around them. I made it about 4 months falling in love with dogs, but happily helping them to find their homes elsewhere. Then I met Rosie, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix. She was the best dog and I had no doubt she would get adopted immediately! I called her “my dog” at the shelter and would often take her out first so I could be the one to walk her. I still wasn’t giving in to the urge to get another dog. Then, a husky mix named Harlow came to the shelter with another husky/shepherd mix and I fell in love and knew I needed a dog. I thought it was this sweet husky mix, and that’s when I broached the subject with my husband and kids about getting a dog again. The funny thing is, after I got approval, I realized that as much as I loved Harlow, she wasn’t my dog.
Rosie was still at the shelter for some unknown reason; dogs like her usually fly out the door; so I started to think she really was my dog and called my husband and kids to come down and meet her one afternoon I was walking dogs. A few days before, Elvis had been surrendered and I had a little bit of contact with him but not too much. When I walked him that day my family was coming, I had this fleeting thought that my son would LOVE him! BUT – Rosie was my dog! So the family came and my son went right to Elvis’ kennel. Hmmm – interesting. I think I knew then who we would go home with. So we met Rosie and she came over to me and then sniffed around the meet and greet room and ignored my husband and kids. They liked her, she took treats nice (the only time she interacted with them) but was just aloof. So I asked to bring the big guy in – Elvis. That is when I REALLY got it. He adopted my family immediately. Within a couple minutes he was on his back getting belly rubs and licking everyone. It is also when I realized how our other dogs adopted us, not the other way around. Rosie wasn’t my dog. She ended up being another volunteers dog and was adopted by her a couple days after I passed her up; and when I see pics of them, I know we all got the right dog for us.
Elvis isn’t perfect, he was not taken care of properly and not made a priority in his previous family, but that is how he got to me and I accept that I needed a dog like him. He teaches me patience, he makes me go outside and enjoy nature, he shows me how and when I need to relax. When he is “acting crazy” and exhibiting anxious behaviors, I know that it is me who needs to calm down and re-center myself. Every dog we had that we let “adopt us” has been the perfect dog for us at that exact time. The one time we took in a dog just to get it out of the situation it was in, it was kind of a disaster, but luckily he adopted one of our friends!
This is true in all facets of our lives. The people (and animals) around us are constantly mirroring our inner state to us. Kids are the perfect mirrors. Ever notice how your pets and kids act out the most when you “just don’t need this right now!”? It is just a reminder for us to calm down and become present again. I need a reminder a lot and Elvis is that reminder for me. He brings a balance to my life I didn’t have before.
As an animal shelter volunteer I feel the need to say “ADOPT, DON’T SHOP!” 🙂