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Stretching Your Comfort Zone: Adopting a Rescue Dog

To bring Teddy home, this old dog had to learn new tricks

My pledge never to have another pet didn’t last a year.
    My favorite dog died of congestive heart failure last July. No more pets for me. My heart can’t stand the loss, I pledged. I still shed a tear when I remember Damien, my black Pomeranian.
    By February, an empty feeling invaded again. Time for another pet. This time I pledge to save a life.
    Never having had a rescue dog, I visited the library for books on dog ownership. This old dog needs to know new tricks, like how to train an older dog someone else may have neglected.
    I checked out two books, Your Dog: the Owners Manual by Dr. Marty Becker, and Training Your Dog the Humane Way, by Alana Stevenson.
    Meanwhile, the local librarian spent 10 minutes telling me her success stories adopting two mixed breeds using and canine rescue societies. A friend who adopted a standard poodle from Maryland Sanctuary in Bowie highly recommended that facility.
    Whenever I mentioned acquiring a rescue dog, smiles and that’s great came my way.
    With books and references in hand, I looked at fluffy small but not tiny dogs. One book recommended a mixed breed around 15 pounds. A 10- to 12-pound fluffy mixed breed, female or male, was my intended.
    Four days into my search I saw Teddy, a Pomeranian-papillon mix, at Pet Rescue of Maryland. Oh, so cute. However, the Rescue limited adoptions to 40 miles from their site in Timonium. My house is 58 miles away. Rats.
    I printed out Teddy’s picture anyhow and put it on the refrigerator. I spent another week finding three more that interested me only to be told they were gone. Every time I opened the fridge I saw my first choice’s picture.
    Rescue applications are very detailed. I had completed a lengthy one for another agency, and while emailing it, took a long shot on trying Pet Rescue of Maryland again. Teddy’s picture on the refrigerator kept sneaking into my thoughts. Maybe, just maybe, they would consider an old retired couple with a fenced-in yard and excellent vet references. Following the recommendation of several pet adoption web sites, I had prepared my veterinarian’s office to receive a call.
    My long shot paid off. The next day an email greeted me with an acceptance — on the condition that a local rescue person view my home and yard.
    An introduction was in order. My husband and I traveled to PETCO in Lutherville to view five-and-a-half-year-old Teddy, one of 11 dogs on display for adoption. He was just as adorable as his picture, and by the following Saturday, he could be ready for adoption.
    But first came a visit to the vet for final shots. And a look at his teeth.
    Teddy had been rescued from death row at a pound in Baltimore. Apparently he had lived with small children, which is a big no-no for Pomeranians, and the previous owner had pulled his front teeth because he bit. One of the things I’ve learned is that people need to spend more time reviewing dogs’ personality traits before they run out and buy that puppy.    
    After a nerve-wracking wait from the vet, it turned out that Teddy had to have 12 more teeth removed.
    A week later, though, Teddy came to live with us. He slipped into our home like an old shoe. He has hardly any teeth left, but the vet told me he could eat almost anything when his gums toughened up. That’s happening. He enjoys dry dog food and nibbles the gristle end of bones.
    Woof, woof, says Teddy, and I know what he means. He tells me he is the happiest dog in the world.