Gen Y Dogma: And Puppy Makes Three

When you meet “the one,” you just know… that you need to bring a dog into the mix. That’s what it was like when writer Christina Peden decided to move in her boyfriend, Ryan. And with the co-habitation complete, so began the search for their furbaby – the slobbering piece of the puzzle that would make their lives complete. From rescue organizations to Craigslist, here’s how a puppy landed in their lap.

Prior to meeting Ryan, I’d never seriously considered adopting a dog. Living in a big city like Toronto, working full time with a tiny apartment — it didn’t exactly add up to giving a dog the kind of life it deserved.

Even though Ryan had a huge 2-bedroom, 2-storey apartment, there were still some naysayers; there were people in our lives who went as far as saying that having a dog in the city is tantamount to animal cruelty! Having lots of friends with dogs in apartments, we knew this wasn’t true, but it was still hard to be on the receiving end of those comments. Sure, not having a backyard makes things challenging. You have to be super-committed to getting outside with your dog multiple times a day, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, and it certainly isn’t cruel, especially when you live as close to great parks (and a Great Lake!) as we do.

Why Then?

IMG_0410What made us decide to adopt a dog when we did? Well, Ryan had been ready to adopt a dog himself shortly before we met, but the rescue pup he’d had his heart set on was adopted by another lucky family before he could make it the shelter. With 8-year-old cat Oscar already in the house, the subject of dog adoption came up between us increasingly often.

We’d both had dogs growing up, and we missed the activity and companionship that they can bring. We got Matilda 3.5 months into our relationship (which admittedly, is soon), but Ryan and I are 35- and 30-years-old, respectively. This isn’t our first relationship rodeo. We both had the sense that this relationship had staying power and felt we were ready to take this next (crazy) step, so we took a leap and went for it.

Let’s Talk (About) Breeds, (Baby)

Oh, the never-ending breed debate. I suppose everyone has their opinions when it comes to this, though I’m pretty much disposed to loving any and all dogs that cross my path. Ryan, on the other hand, was pretty adamant about wanting a medium- to large-sized dog. No Chihuahuas for this guy! (I’ll spare you the nicknames he gives to the little dogs that cross our path when we’re out walking Matilda!).

I’d grown up with a fairly large dog (a German Shepherd-Beagle mix), so I was okay with this —Ryan’s apartment would allow a larger dog, with plenty of room to spread out. Ryan really loves German Shepherds and Labs and hoped to end up with either a purebred or a mix. I was a little hesitant about a German Shepherd, as I knew how hyper (and strong!) the breed could be, but as you’ll see, things ended up working out for the best on that front.

Friends and Petfinder

RyanMatildaRyan’s friends were constantly emailing and Facebooking him whenever they got wind of a dog up for adoption. Pretty soon, I started getting texts from Ryan in the middle of my workday with pictures of each new pup he found. This, of course, filled my heart with puppy love and broke it into a million little pieces all at the same time. I wanted us to adopt ALL the doggies! How could I not?

Then came the daily, obsessive scouring of Petfinder.com — that’s where we found Brock, a black puppy who was part of a litter surrendered at a local shelter. Ryan tried to get in touch with Brock’s foster mom via email, but to no avail. After a few attempts we decided to keep looking. It was disappointing for us, but I have no doubt Brock ended up going to a great home.

Going to the Shelter

Less than a week later, Ryan found a 2-year old German Shepherd male named Star who was up for adoption at our local humane society.

We knew before visiting that Star had some behavioral issues; nothing we weren’t willing to work with (or so we thought). Upon meeting Star, we learned that he’d been in “bite quarantine” since arriving at the shelter, as he’d broken a staff member’s skin. He was also incredibly strong and didn’t know how to walk on a leash. None of this was his fault — it was due to a lack of training by his original owners. Star was a happy dog with a sweet disposition underneath the hyperactivity and poor training, but we knew how dangerous it would be for us to walk a dog we couldn’t control in a busy downtown neighborhood. There were just too many things that could go wrong. It was heartbreaking when we realized we couldn’t be the ones to adopt Star and give him a second chance.

Craigslist and Kijiji

Disclaimer: I wouldn’t necessarily advocate this approach; there are a lot of sketchy postings on both these sites, particularly when it comes to puppies. Things worked out well for us, but I would definitely encourage you to use your best judgment here.

It was Saturday night, a few hours after we’d gotten home from meeting Star at the humane society. I couldn’t shake my sadness as we watched movies on the couch. I reached for my laptop and wistfully began looking at rescue dogs, again. I aimlessly searched the ‘puppies for sale’ sections on Craigslist and Kijiji. We’d never intended to find a puppy this way… but then I saw it. An ad for Border Collie/Lab mix puppies, born on a farm a couple hours north of the city. Free to a good home. After a quick powwow with Ryan, I sent an email to the person who posted the ad. We heard back the next day; the farmer’s wife had invited us up to meet the puppies, so we rented a ZipCar and began our trek north.

After that, our lives were never the same, because we brought Matilda home that evening. We’ve both learned a lot about puppy parenthood since then, but that knowledge hasn’t come without a few bumps in the road, which I’ll talk about next week…

christinamatildaChristina Peden is a lifelong animal lover and avid wordsmith. She lives in Toronto with her boyfriend Ryan where they are proud pet parents to puppy, Matilda and cat, Oscar. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying Toronto, Canada’s all-too-short patio season, taking advantage of the city’s numerous parks or curled up with a good book.


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