October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, and we here at HLAW love our pups! So much so that when we asked for submission from our Ambassadors on the subject we got more than enough. From now until Tuesday, we are running a shelter dog story! Today we welcome Ambassador Elizabeth to the blog who tells us about her two shelter dogs.

These two silly girls make me laugh every day. They are more excited to hit the trail than I am. I take my girls hiking with me every time I go. They help me feel safe. Growing up, I was not allowed to have non-caged pets. To clarify, my sister and father are incredibly allergic to cats and dogs, so the only pets that we were allowed to have had to be caged: fish, hamsters, birds. The first thing I did when I moved out was get a cat. When I met and married my dog whisperer of a husband, I knew that a dog would join us shortly. But being that I had no experience with large animals, there was one rule: first we get a house with a yard, then we will get a dog.

One day a friend and I were driving around and decided to swing by the shelter… just to take a look. There she was. A red mutt sitting trembling in the corner of a concrete cell, barely able to look up at the passersby. I knew my husband could help this little darling. I immediately called him and said that there was someone that he needed to meet. We brought Dixie home that night. The shelter wasn’t sure of her age or breed. They were able to tell us that we were her third home in less than a year. By watching her for less than 24 hours we knew that she had been heavily abused. With that knowledge, we knew that we had to change her name. We needed to give her a new identity that helped her know that she was now safe and loved. Denna had found her home.

We taught her how to play again. How to be a puppy. Slowly we introduced her to children, always making sure that the kids knew that she had to approach them first. My nephew loves animals wanted nothing more than to have Denna like him. I have never seen a more patient 5-year-old. He would sit on the floor a few feet away from Denna and talk to her quietly. The day that she finally walked over to him and gave him a lick on his small outstretched hand was exciting. He had been waiting months for that to happen. I know that Denna will never been fully socialized, but that’s okay. She is in a family that shows her love and kindness.

Denna loves to hike. She stays on the trail and has never once wondered off. She knows that the mountains are calling us when all the gear starts coming out of the closets. She has her own pack, and carries her own food on backpacking trips. She cuddles with us in the tent. I could not have found a better dog for my first canine experience. She is still profoundly timid. Any time someone comes across us on the trail she will step off the path and sit and wait for them to pass. Once they are gone she gives a little wag and is back on her way up the hill.

My other dog is a rescue from a family member. We weren’t even talking about getting another animal, figuring that two cats, a dog, a snake, and a basement troll (our roommate) was a full enough house. A cousin of mine got Kona when she was a tiny puppy. Unfortunately, his wife was scared of Kona. As a result, Kona was almost continually kenneled for the first year of her life. At first glance, some would understand. Kona is a 120 lb. Pyrenees Mastiff. She’s big. She has a big bark. She’s also the sweetest dog I have ever encountered. If anyone trying to come into my house was able to look past the huge barking dog, they would notice that her tail is wagging as fast as possible. And that’s a big tail! Due to her seclusion in her early life she has some abandonment issues. When at home she is consistently right next to you. She is not able to decide herself if strangers are allowed in the house, but once Denna says it is okay, you are now two hands that can pet her. While Denna is a much more relaxed dog, Kona wants to play all the time. Have you ever seen a 120 lb. dog try to bury herself under an inch of snow? I have.

Like Denna, Kona loves being in the woods. Unlike the well behaved trail dog that Denna is, Kona must be leashed at all times. She will just go… and not look back. There’s just too much to see and smell. Even at the campsite she must be attached to a tree. A big tree. It is interesting to see the mood change with Kona especially once we hit the trail. At home she barks at basically anything that might make a sound in a three-block radius. On the trail, however, she rarely makes a noise.

You can find the sweetest hearts in those abandoned by the people who had to have the puppy. I will always find my future critters from the shelters—from those animals that just want a warm home and love.

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