I will always remember the day we met our rescue dog Petey.
It was mid-March 2007, and my family and I were on the way to a reunion for dogs who had been adopted from the Arizona Border Collie Rescue. During the drive, my husband half-jokingly asked me how many dogs we would come home with that day.
“One! One dog! We are only coming home with Zoey!” I replied vehemently. I knew we eventually wanted to adopt a second rescue dog, but I didn’t think we were quite ready for a new family member yet.
Of course, that firm commitment went right out the proverbial window the instant we got to the dog park. As Zoey, our border collie mix, immediately ran off to romp and play with the other rescue dogs, my eyes landed on a shy and somewhat sad looking border collie wearing a purple bandana that said “Adopt Me.”
“Ohhhhh…who is this?” I said as I leaned down to pet him.
“This is Petey,” replied his kind-hearted foster mom. She went on to explain that he had recently been turned into Arizona Border Collie Rescue by his former owners, who had used him as a breeding dog for the first two years of his life.
For the next couple of hours, as Zoey played and had a wonderful time, Petey stayed right by our side. We marveled at how good he was with our own boys, as well as the other kids who came over to pet him. When it was time to go, Petey followed us to the gate.
My husband and I looked at each other and knew then and there that we had found our next family member. Or maybe—he had found us.
Petey came to live with us several days later. While we were delighted to adopt him, and already loved him dearly, we soon found out that being kept as a breeding dog had taken its toll on his emotional health.
Petey was easily the sweetest dog we had ever met. He was amazing with my boys and I, but scared to death of my 6’ 4” kind-hearted, gentle husband. In fact, every guy he met caused him to tremble with fear. So did cameras, thunderstorms and brown glass bottles of root beer.
Petey also had a severe case of separation anxiety. Once, when we left him in a large and comfy crate when we went out to run errands, he managed to crack the plastic pan at the bottom and tear up the carpet underneath.
Despite these initial bumps in the rescue dog road, we loved Petey so much that we wanted to do everything we could to help him, and over the next few months, he began to blossom. He learned that when we left, we came back. He realized that big, tall men can be kind and not scary—and I am proud to say that our carpet and couch are still intact.
Petey is now almost 12, and the black fur on his muzzle has developed a distinguished salt and pepper look. He moves around a bit slower these days, as his hips have become arthritic, but the loving, sweet dog who gazes up at us daily as if to say “thank you for adopting me” is still there, and always will be.
Petey, thank YOU for showing us the true meaning of unconditional love, for teaching us patience and proving how gratifying it is to adopt a rescue dog. We are honored that you chose us to be your forever family.