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Adopting Rooney – Our First Puppy!

Read one man’s true story of rescuing a puppy and his tips on adopting a dog.

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I don’t quite remember how we made the decision to adopt a dog. Ali (my girlfriend) and I both have had animals whilst growing up and were very fond of them. We started living together in an apartment complex that hadn’t yet built a building specifically for pets. For this reason – we knew that having a dog was out of the equation but Ali would still look up dogs on adoption websites and apps. We both knew that we wanted to rescue a puppy if the opportunity came to us.

In the spring of 2013, the company that built our apartment completed work on a building that we came to find out was a ‘pet building’ meaning all occupants in this building were allowed to have pets with a few restrictions:

  • The dog could not be over 55lbs.
  • The dog could not be a pit bull (yes – our complex had breed restrictions, sadly)

I spoke with the our apartments leasing office and they permitted us to move into the pet building. The search was on for a dog.

Ali and I took a Saturday to cruise to local shelters to look at dogs for our home. We went to a few local rescues that didn’t have many dogs at the time. It was when we visited the Sullivan County SPCA in Rock Hill, New York that we were a bit closer to adopting our first pet.

We were brought to the SPCA by an app on Ali’s iPhone that listed all local pets available for rescue. The SPCA had just received a new batch of dogs from the south and we wanted to take a look. Upon arriving – all the dogs were gone. We asked where they all had been taken at which point a volunteer told us they were taken to a local pet store in a ‘vehicle for dog adoption’. There was only one dog left at the SPCA – Westberry – that was confined to a back portion of the facility. We saw Westberry on the website but she wouldn’t have been our first candidate. We then headed to the pet store to see what dogs were available from the bus.

The bus was a little chaotic. Tons of young children picking up animals and pleading with their parents to adopt them – in a small, almost claustrophobic, bus filled with animals. The bus walking space wasn’t more than 3 feet wide. There was a particular dog, a male, that I was fond of. He was an Australian Cattle Dog that was very cute. Ali seemed to like him but was very hesitant. I looked at her and asked what she was thinking, to which she responded:
‘I’m not sure…I think I would like to go back and take a look at Westberry.’

Little did I know – Ali took a liking to Westberry. She was a small puppy that was labeled a ‘Lab Mix’. She was older than the other puppies – 11 weeks to be exact. Most of the other puppies were 8 weeks old. When we let Westberry out of her kennel she was very playful and VERY inquisitive. She had her nose down low and was tracing scents throughout the entire shelter.

We asked the volunteer why she wasn’t taken with the other dogs in her batch to the pet store. “They simply didn’t have enough room” he said. She was the only dog left in the shelter.

Ali had her heart set on Westberry. We asked questions about her past (she was rescued from a kill shelter in Tennessee) and asked about the size they estimated she could be when fully grown (about 45 lbs or so). We then decided that we would like to put in our application to take her home. We were approved once our apartment was called and consented and we answered some questions. Westberry was now a part of our small family.

We spent some time trying to decide a name. She was from Tennessee. There was a music festival in Tennessee at the time – Bonnaroo – that Ali’s brother was attending. We decided on Rooney. It seems like a stretch from Roo to Rooney – but it was fitting. People still look at us strange for the name but we couldn’t imagine it any other way.

Based upon our experience, we or I would like to share some tips if you’re thinking about adopting a dog:

  1. Always vet the establishment you are planning to rescue from. We did tons of research on the SPCA and were delighted with nothing but glowing feedback. Many happy families that adopted happy puppies.
  2. Be aware that mixed dogs are not the breed that are listed on the website. Shelters often have little to go by besides birth certificates (which are commonly filled out erroneously) and good guesses
  3. Ask the establishment what they can asses of the dogs demeanor so far. Often times they can pick up small clues of the dogs personality from taking care of them – even for a small amount of time
  4. Feel good that you are rescuing a puppy!
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