I didn’t have the complete story when I adopted my dog Charlotte. Through some mixture of broken telephone information and my own assumptions about rescue dogs, I thought she had a more dramatic and difficult life before a local rescue brought her to us. After a scary but ultimately benign health issue less than 24 hours after adopting her I wound up spending a lot of time looking at her vet records and found where she was living in small town Arkansas before she was brought to Canada. Since I’m an expert Googler and certified Facebook creep, I figured out which rescue she was at and joined their group to give a little update on how Charlotte (née Brittany – but we couldn’t stop with the Britney Spears jokes) was doing since moving into her forever home.
They were even more enthusiastic than I could have imagined. Two of the rescue workers immediately added me on Facebook and regaled me with stories of her life back in Arkansas. It turns out that her mother was actually in the rescue when she was pregnant, so my pup was born there with her brothers and sisters. Some of them had gone out to new homes, but her mama and her sister, Fancy Feet are still living at the rescue. It’s not a big building filled with pens and countless rotating animals. The rescue is a house with lots and lots of dog beds and open space for the moderate number of pups to hang out and bond. This explains why Charlotte is so friendly with other dogs.
She was adopted out for all of a few days about half a year before she came to Canada, but it wasn’t a great fit. They kept her in a crate, which is not something she was used to, and had a few younger children. I don’t want to speculate too much, but it doesn’t sound like they were ready to meet her particular needs. It also does not surprise me at all that she wasn’t into the crate situation or kids getting all up in her area right off the bat. She’s a little bit shy and she likes a lot of down time. But, hey, it didn’t work out and that meant she wound up in my life, so I think the setback ultimately lead to a better outcome.
The best part of contacting Charlotte’s rescuers was definitely the baby pictures. My cat was found on the street as a pregnant stray, so I’ll never get kitten pictures, but I imagine how awkwardly fluffy she’d be, and how cute it would be to see a tiny kitten with a mustache. I was positively inundated with shots of my grown dog as a puppy and I couldn’t be happier. There are shots of her as a teensy little baby, ones with her siblings, some with her mama, too. I got to see the family resemblance and got a greater understanding of the collie genes that don’t show up very much in her appearance, but are more obvious in some of her brothers. She looks most like her mother out of all the puppies, and she’s definitely some sort of a brindle Lab mix, likely part Plott hound. I may have to shell out for a doggie DNA kit one of these days.
On top of getting relevant health information and a better understanding of how she was raised, they regaled me with tales of her legendary clumsiness. As she routinely does her happy dance at the top of the stairs when I come home, only to lose footing and stumble down a few stairs, I was happy to hear that she comes by it honestly. She’s my weird, awkward little baby, and she’s always been a bit of a klutz. There have also been a few minor head bonks in her early life because of her accident-prone nature, so that might explain a few things, too.
I could have easily gone through life with Charlotte without knowing anything about her past, but all this information has lead to a better understanding of where she comes from, why she is the way she is, and how to treat and train her to be most comfortable given how she was raised. Her rescuers are an excellent resource when I’m trying to puzzle out something about her behavior, and occasionally they’ll check in to see how she’s doing. I’m more than happy to share what she’s up to in her big city life. We’ve even discussed having a Skype date with her sister, and that will be roughly (or ruff-ly) the cutest thing in the world. They have a lot to catch up on.
Not everyone is going to get the satisfying answers and new connections I have now, but it’s worth doing a little detective work and seeing if you can find out a little more about your rescue’s life. There may be adorable pictures in it for you!