Adopting a wolf dog and a miniature poodle

By Amy Wiezalis
Explorebigsky.com Contributor

When my friend Jamey announced
she was adopting a puppy, I panicked.
“Don’t get a dog!” I said. “They
wreck everything and hurt themselves.
You can’t travel, or find a
decent place to live.”
But my pleading didn’t sway Jamey.
I pictured a collar around her neck,
tethering her to vet bills, dingy
apartments and domestic travel.
Ironically, I love pound puppies.
In college, I fell in love with a wolf
dog. I’d always been enamored with
animals and was researching canid
behavior at the time.
Her name was Koani, a Blackfeet
word meaning “play,” and she was
from a friend’s litter. Her mother
was a blue-blood German Shepherd/
gray wolf mix, and her father
a Husky fighting dog stolen from
an alleyway.
The man who
originally purchased
Koani
had abused and
neglected her.
She bounced
around to temporary
owners
until the night
she crawled
onto a couch
and put her head in my lap. I took
her home.
Koani was a beautiful, smart handful.
She shredded doors, broke
through windows, chewed textbooks
and tore into the garbage. She
could open refrigerators and once
ate a one-pound block of butter in
my bed. We dubbed her Houdini
Dog, as it was impossible to keep
her tied up against her will. She
slipped out of any MacGyver harness/
webbing contraption I could
dream up. Koani was fiercely protective
and intimidating. Strangers
were terrified, but I saw a darling
pup that needed love. Despite her
intense separation anxiety, Koani
grew into a wonderful companion.
She helped raise my boys, and one
might even say she raised me.
Realizing my hypocrisy,
I logged onto
montanapets.org to
check out the puppy
Jamey was considering.
This website has
links to most of the
animal shelters in
Montana and organizes
by location.
Another website,
petfinder.com, allows
viewers to search using
their zip code and
breed information.
Within a few days,
I’d combed through
most of the listings.
My heart swelled
with every pair of
homeless eyes I gazed
into. The last thing I
needed was another creature to care
for, but somehow I ended up on the
phone with Ann Lucas, a volunteer
with Whitehall non-profit Selina
Animal Rescue. They don’t have a
shelter location, but arrange foster
care for animals
in need. They
presently house
53 cats, 35 dogs
and two guinea
pigs.
The rescue focuses
on alleviating
the needless
suffering of animals,
educating
the community, and placing these
hapless creatures in loving homes.
When I first spoke with Ann, she
had received a group of sick dogs
from a puppy mill in North Dakota.
They’d agreed to accept six and
ended up with 16.
The rescue workers care for scared
and often sick animals during a
stressful transition time. Earlier
this year, Ann picked up five small
dogs that were in a severe rollover
accident. Their owner was in the
ICU, and one of the dogs suffered a
compound fracture. In another case,
the rescue reunited a trucker and
his dog that were separated as they
traveled through Montana.
Donations and grants are important
to the shelter. Every animal that
passes through is healed, spayed
or neutered and vaccinated. This is
a tremendous amount of work for
the volunteers (imagine taking 20
animals to the vet), and it’s also expensive.
[cds_p]The animals are also microchipped
for easier identification.
Despite all the time and money
spent, the rescue only charges a
$100 adoption fee.
Ann told me about a miniature
red poodle that came into the
rescue with severe pneumonia. I
researched the breed, asked for a
picture, and two weeks later met
her to have a look at the little guy. I
brought my friend Sara for support.
“Don’t let me make any rash decisions,”
I said. As a single mother
of two, I was leery to add to my
mountain of responsibility. Ann
opened the car door, and in the crate
wiggled a lanky pup with curly red
hair.
“He looks like he’s part Muppet,”
Sara said.
“I’ll take him,” I said.
When I took Ted home for a trial
run, I knew he belonged. He’s
friendly, well behaved and a total
goofball. Ted is the only dog I’ve
ever known that loves fireworks.
Large for his breed, he runs on long
legs and catches air just for the
sake of it. Even 14-year-old Koani
perked up when we brought him
home. He’s been a ray of sunshine
for all of us.
If you’re considering a dog, please
take the time to search local
shelters. Rescue dogs get a bad
reputation for unruly behavior, and
there’s a misconception they’re automatically
problem dogs. Remember
that dogs end up in shelters
for a host of reasons. Their owner
could have suffered a severe hardship
or even death. They could have
come from an unplanned pregnancy
or been dumped by an irresponsible
owner. Their bad luck should not
rule them out as a possible addition
to your family.
As for Jamey, she ended up adopting
a beautiful and sweet Blue
Heeler/Pitbull puppy named Eyla.
She’s white with a speckled mask
and brilliant blue eyes, and has
been a great addition to Jamey’s life.
Adopting a pet should not be
taken lightly. Fourteen years ago,
if anyone had told me I’d be lifting
100-pound Koani up the stairs
while caring for two children, I
would have laughed. An animal is a
time commitment and an expense.
Make honest observations about
your lifestyle, and whether or not
a pet fits into your plan. Research
breeds you’re interested in, but
don’t be too close-minded. Shelter
or rescue workers are often great
resources, and can help you find the
pet that’s right for you.