On December 1, our family began a new chapter in our lives. We rescued a dog. A shih Tzu named Emmy Lou. She has a sad story but one that has turned into a love story for us.
In the beginning of November, we had just begun thinking seriously about getting a dog and told our ten-year-old son Drew that we would begin our search in the spring. Drew had been through a rough autumn. He was recovering from his second concussion in seven months and was having a difficult time bouncing back from this one. He was only attending school part time, was having major meltdowns and was just not his happy, fun, vibrant self. To pass the time, he began doing his own research on dogs. He came across a picture on the Internet of an adorable dog, named Emmy Lou. She was so cute that I told him she might be gone already. I decided to send an email to the shelter to ask about her. I got a reply a few days later that just said that all they could tell me via email was that she was still there but I should make a call to the shelter and find out more information.
We waited a week, and Drew continued to look at Emmy Lou’s picture on line. He even printed out a few copies, leaving them around the house for the rest of us to see. I called the next weekend and got some limited information about her. I was told that she was “an older dog” – probably about six years old and that she was a Shih Tzu. They told us that we should come out and visit her and even if Emmy Lou was not the dog for us, there were plenty of other dogs at the shelter that needed homes.
Since Drew was still not allowed to play sports, our weekends were free and we decided to drive to the shelter the following weekend. It was about an hour and a half away. There are shelters much closer to us, but this was where Emmy Lou was so we decided to trek out there and meet her.
We arrived at the shelter right as it opened. We walked through a maze of barking dogs. Some of them were huge! Some of them were scary! Drew and I were a little apprehensive and then he called out, “it’s her”. Sure enough, in a small cage, amongst all of these enormous, loud, dogs were two little dogs cowering together. The names on the cage read, “Emmy Lou” and “Fiona”. We found a volunteer and asked if we could see Emmy Lou. He took us into the doggie playroom to tell us about her first. We found out that she was much older than we had first been told. They assumed she was closer to eight or nine years old. We also found out that she was a puppy mill dog. She had been living in a cage for her entire life doing nothing other than breeding puppies. We were told that she had never been on a leash before they rescued her so she did not know how to walk with it, but was wee wee pad trained and might only use those. They doubted she would ever be a snugly dog.
Dave and I looked at each other knowing that this was not going to work for us. We had to give Drew a chance to see her though. Emmy Lou was brought to us. I held her first. Drew sat right by my side, talking softly to her the whole time. When they brought her to us she was trembling. As Drew continued to talk to her, she laid her head down on his lap and settled in. Dave and I looked at each other again, realizing that we had lost this battle. There was no way that we were going to be able to leave her there. We began to go through the adoption process.
After our referrals were called and we were approved to adopt, we waited for her as she was bathed and cleaned up. We went to pay for her and we were told that she was a purebred and the cost of adopting a purebred from the shelter was $250 but since Emmy Lou had been there for over two months, they were waiving the fee! It was as if it were meant to be.
We left carrying her since she did not know how to walk on a leash and we went to the pet store across the street to get her a little bed and some food. We drove home with her between Drew and me the entire way. At the shelter we were told that she would probably need a cage because that is what she knew best and might feel most comfortable in so we went to get one for her and we brought her home.
The first two days, she did not do much more than sleep and eat. She did seem more comfortable in her cage. We left out wee wee pads, and she used them. We tried the on the leash but she was clueless as to how to use it. Dave continued to try and she got better at it but still was not comfortable with it. Drew was determined to make her a snuggly dog and gave her love, hugs, kisses and his undivided attention. It was a long weekend but by Monday, she was walking on a leash and only going to the bathroom outside! Within the week, she was sleeping with us upstairs. It took awhile, but our older son DJ, who was not so sure about getting a dog, is now infatuated with her as well.
Drew and Emmy Lou adore each other and she looks for him at the end of the school day. Emmy is part of the family now. She seems to be most fond of Dave, who spends the most time with her. She is most comfortable laying on the couch between two of us. No matter where we are in the house, you will find Emmy in the same room.
Drew was intent on teaching her how to walk up and down the stairs, something she was very apprehensive doing on her own. For the first two months, we carried her up and down them. All of Drew’s hard work paid off, and just last week she mastered them. He is so proud of himself.
I suggest that everyone who is able to, go out and rescue an animal. We never imagined that we’d be taking in an older dog and never in our wildest dreams did we think we could fall in love with dog but she has become an integral part of our family filling a void that we never even knew was missing in the first place.