Why did you decide to rescue?
I wouldn’t say that I decided to rescue. I made a decision that I wished to bring another dog into my life. The rescue part found me.
Please tell us your story with rescuing.
Before my rescue, I didn’t know much (if anything) about rescuing animals. I sure didn’t know the importance of it. Growing up, if a family wanted a dog, going to the local pet shop was normal. I’ll admit that I already had two beautiful Yorkies purchased just this way: Sophie (dob: 8/9/05) and Sam (dob: 10/16/06).
In the Summer of 2009, I found myself in Montreal working with Cirque du Soleil. As fabulous as that experience was, there were still some rough times. On top of that, I missed home. I missed my husband. I missed my Yorkies. I got a crazy idea in my head that maybe if I had a companion in Montreal, I wouldn’t miss home so badly. My husband and I talked about bringing a third Yorkie into our family, and we agreed that the timing was right.
The search was on… I spent hours online looking at a Canadian website similar to E-Bay in the states. There, you could find animals searching for homes. Most people wanted lots of money for the listed dogs – I just didn’t have it. And then one night, in one of my late night searches, I saw this image of a Yorkie puppy. All black/tan, a little fluff ball, cradled in the hands of its owner. Now 8 months old, this little baby was looking for a home. No price given. I emailed the listing right away – I didn’t think twice. I knew it was a long shot.
And then, there it was – a response. We scheduled a phone interview to discuss the Yorkie in the online listing. I was so nervous to talk to his owner. She told me that I was the first inquiry out of over 25 other people. I told her that I could give her $400 for him – it was all that I had. She wouldn’t take it - $250 was her price, she said, because she knew he still needed his vaccinations. I agreed, and we scheduled a day/time for me to pick him up. I spent the next several days preparing for and anticipating his arrival: I got bowls, a new collar and leash, a couple of toys, food, treats, etc. You know – all the things a new dog needs.
A friend offered to take me to pick him up. The date was August 15, 2009. When I arrived, I went to the backyard, where a family was swimming and enjoying the day. I saw another dog running around (well-groomed and obviously cared for), and then the woman, from across the yard, picked up a matted, mop of a dog and said, “This is him. Do you still want him?” I will never forget this moment or those words, because I knew that I wanted him more than ever. She shared with me that she had gotten him from a breeder, but not long after, gave him to her daughter. That didn’t last long, and her daughter returned him. Finally, they just decided that they didn’t have time for him. I knew how much he needed to be loved. I handed over my cash (every dollar in my pocket), she handed me the mop of a dog – Jack was his name – some treats, some food, his bed and a cage. I got back in the van with a strange, new dog, and we headed back.
I won’t lie – that ride back to Montreal was hard. Jack cried. He didn’t know me, and even though his life wasn’t ideal at his old home, it was the life he knew. Was I going to be able to comfort him? Would the love I wanted to give him going to be enough? Would he love me back? I was scared, just like Jack.
Luckily that same night, I found a veterinarian that would see us. Jack needed all of his vaccinations. I apologized all over the place for the state of his appearance. I had tried to bathe him and comb him, but anyone with a Yorkie will tell you that once that long coat is matted, there is only one solution. The vet was very understanding with us. The next afternoon, I found a groomer that would help me with Jack’s coat. I waited for the groomer’s call to let me know when he was done. I excitedly hurried over, and when I looked around the corner, I saw a naked – now SILVER – tiny creature with big ears. The groomer said the only hair she could keep was on his ears; she asked if I wanted her to leave it. I said, “YES!” It was on that day that my Symon was born. (I tried calling him Jack – at 8 months old, he didn’t know even know his name.) He walked out of that salon with his head held high, showing his proud little terrier strut down the sidewalk. I found a small park, and I took pictures of him feeling so carefree in the grass. I couldn’t help but think that this may have been one of the first times he was happy.
It took another month or so before he stopped shaking with anxiety – something that was hard to witness. He didn’t like me to leave him. But in time, he learned to trust others (including my husband, whom he met around this time) and even adjusted to his new Yorkie friends, Sophie and Sam, when we went home.
It’s taken me a long time to not be angry at my perception of Symon’s life as Jack. How could a family treat one dog differently than another? How could a family not have time for this little pup that I was growing to love more and more each day? Time revealed to me that in her own way, his previous owner actually did show love toward Symon in her willingness to find him a loving home.
Sadly, I never got any pictures of Symon as a puppy. And I don’t know his actual birthdate (other than it’s in December, just like mine). But in the end, none of that seems to matter much. I have his unconditional love. And he has mine.
I love the way Symon’s tail gives him away. Of course, we know that this is a key indicator for a lot of things, but for him – he cannot hide his excitement. The tail wags faster than any tail I’ve ever seen on a dog. He gets plenty of chuckles at the dog park.
I love his ears – they are his signature trait. And I love when they perk up, with a head tilt, when he’s listening to me. People cannot help but smile when he’s out and about. I love that he can bring a little joy to others.
I love that Symon enjoys riding in his backpack, or in his bag, or in his sling, or traveling in his carrier. He willingly jumps in and is ready to go with Mommy.
I love that he is an expert cuddler, whether it’s on my lap while I’m working or pressed against me under the covers in bed. He is comfortable and that makes me comfortable.
I love our games of fetch, soccer and catch. Give this boy a toy, and he’s a happy dog. Watching him run after the ball or prepare to block a kick is the best.
I love that his lower lip quivers when he wants something. There’s no denying he’s spoiled, so he’s become well-versed in puppy eyes and whimpers. Not to worry – he wants for nothing.
I love that when he wants to wake me in the morning for a drink of water (located in his glass on the night stand), he starts with low and short grunt/growl noises. It’s hard to explain, but it’s very soft and very short. He doesn’t want to startle me.
I love that his tongue hangs out the left side of his mouth, since he no longer has any teeth. He celebrates Tongue Out Tuesday every day of the week!
I love that when he passes gas, it startles him, so he chases his tail until he figures out that it’s not scary. Others just think it’s cute that he’s chasing his tail. It’s our little secret!
I love that when I’m typing on my laptop, he rests his head in the crease of my elbow – even though there’s no way that could possibly be comfortable.
I love that he snores when he’s completely out.
I love that I’m his Mommy.
What was your biggest fear with rescuing and how did this fear play out once all was said and done?
I wasn’t afraid of rescuing until it was just us, for the first time, alone in his new, forever home. I think it was then that the realization set in that the outcome for this animal rested in my hands, and that this animal doesn’t trust me (yet) nor understand what’s happening. I thought I had it all planned out, until I realized that I couldn’t plan out a rescue. Rescuing an animal is a daily learning experience. I think it takes patience for things that seem like they shouldn’t, because he had to overcome so much (and I honestly don’t even know everything, I’m sure).
Even after all of this time with my Symon, there are still moments that I think his life as Jack gets in the way for him. For example, when I’m packing a suitcase, his anxiety sets in that I’m leaving him. Or if he has a dog sitter (always a close friend), his anxiety sets in that I won’t come back. Or if we’re on a leash or sitting on a park bench, his anxiety sets in that he has to let other doggies know that I’m HIS Mommy. He can really work himself up at times – not eat, upset his tummy, etc. I think being shuffled around so much as a baby was hard for him, so it takes a little extra reassurance from time to time.
But even with all of that, understanding my role as his Mommy is special to me. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. He is a true, one of a kind, companion. I love him dearly.
Would you rescue again?
In a heartbeat. It is something greater than you can even imagine. It can be difficult, especially if your rescue animal is overcoming issues. But with patience and time, love can heal many things.
What would you say the most positive part of rescuing is?
To me, the most positive part of rescuing is the fact that I did something to save the life of a beautiful animal. I was able to turn his life around and make it the best it could be. I was able to offer him love, comfort, trust, companionship, kindness – things every living creature deserves. The funny part of all of that is that in giving those things, you receive them in abundance. My Symon saved me on August 15, 2009, at a time when I needed it most. We saved each other. I think this is why Mommy and her Little Man are so close.
What would you like everyone to know about this topic?
Being a rescue owner is a commitment. Learn what you can about your rescue’s past, so that you can consider the challenges that may lie ahead as a result. Be patient and kind, and always show love. This can be one of the greatest experiences for both you and your rescue!
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