My Rescue Dog Rescued Me Too

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
Originally Published: 

I’ve always been a “dog person.”

When it comes to getting a dog, I’m a strong believer in the “adopt, don’t shop” mentality. I know that there are so many amazing dogs out there who need a loving home. Getting a rescue dog is the best decision I’ve made in a while — our dog is the perfect addition to our family.

I got my first rescue dog back in 2012. My now-ex and I knew that getting a dog was something we wanted after our cross-country move. Someone found an abandoned, pregnant dog, and one of the puppies became ours. Her name is Rose Nylund, after the character from The Golden Girls. She was my little rescue baby. With her as a part of our family, my heart was full. For a bunch of reasons, my ex kept her when we broke up, but she’s still in my life and we see her regularly.

After that, getting another dog was always in the back of my mind. Unfortunately for me, the apartment I moved into with my son didn’t allow dogs. My kiddo and I could see Rose whenever we wanted, but it wasn’t the same. We desperately wanted (needed) a dog of our own. Thankfully, my building changed its stance on dog ownership last year; thus, “Operation Doggo” began. This time around, getting a rescue dog was the only option. Knowing how many dogs are out there waiting for a home, I wouldn’t have felt right doing anything else.

Even though I knew we were getting a rescue dog, I still had requirements. The biggest one — no puppies. I have a six-year-old boy in the house and I’m a single mom. The last thing I need is another small, destructive creature. I briefly considered a senior dog, but with a young, active child, it didn’t seem like the best fit for either of them. Size was important because we live in a small apartment with size restriction policies.

I didn’t realize there are a ton of animal rescues on Instagram. I started following our local places and hoping that maybe I’d find our new family member. And after a chance scroll one afternoon, I saw the face that was going to change our lives for the better.

His name was Che and he was being rehomed after his family had to take in another dog. His big brown eyes and old man face won me over immediately. So, I sent an email and filled out an application.

Applying for a rescue dog is a serious process. I totally understand why, but it’s still stressful. The questions range from simple ones about your job to what you’ll do if your dog incurs major medical bills. There were times where I wondered if this was worth it, or if we should just get a hamster.

But after meeting him, there was no doubt he was meant to be our dog and we received approval to take him home.

Che, who is now called Hank, feels like he’s been with us forever. He fits right in with our little family. He loves to curl up next to me as I work, and sleep in bed with my kiddo. He loves a good walk around the neighborhood, is quick to give kisses, and never turns down a good belly rub. Basically, he’s everything you can ask for in a dog. He gets along with Rose, and every other dog we see. He stops to let people pet him on the street, and doesn’t mind his little boy hugging him and giving him kisses.

But the best part about our rescue dog? He’s rescued me too. In the months before Hank came into our lives, I was a mess. My mental health had taken a nosedive, and having a dog really helped pull me out of that dark cave. Having to take him out for walks forces me outside, even when I don’t want to go. That little bit of fresh air a few times a day helps me clear my head and restores my energy. And even though we haven’t had him long, he’s very in tune with us already. He knows when I’m feeling sad, and will come lie his head in my lap, looking up at me with those big brown eyes. He’s a great companion for my son, who is an only child and very happy having someone to love all over and play with.

For us, having a dog made our little family feel more complete. My son and I both have so much love in our hearts, and pouring it into our furball makes us feel good. I don’t even mind most nights when they’re both sprawling out in my bed and I’m squished between them. It means the world to me that Hank knows we’re his people — the ones who care for him and will do anything for him.

I may be biased, but getting a rescue dog is a wonderful decision. Even if you’re looking for something specific, you will be able to find it — there are breed specific rescues out there and (unfortunately) new dogs being brought into the shelters every day. With so many dogs who need loving homes, there’s no reason not to make a rescue dog your first choice. They have so much extra love to give because they know you’re their person: the one who saved them from a less-than-ideal, or legitimately dire, situation.

Hank deserved a loving family. All dogs do. We didn’t really rescue him though–he rescued us.

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