Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Courage and Commitment

Today I'm pleased to welcome another animal lover, author Marie-Nicole Ryan to Terry's Place.. Are you afraid of adopting a dog with major issues? See what happened when Marie gathered her courage and adopted a Sheltie. And be sure to leave a comment because she’s giving away one of her books.

First of all, let me thank Terry for giving me the opportunity to talk about my favorite subject, Cassie the Wonder Sheltie, and how I came to adopt her. When my last dog had to be euthanized, I swore I didn’t want another dog. How could I replace Tazz? He was a darling cinnamon Chow Chow, and I’d inherited him from my son who moved out and couldn’t have a large dog in his apartment. Tazz was my best bud for the last several years of his life, so my heart was really broken when the time came to say good-bye.

That was in July 2006. I retired from my day job in October. Get another dog? No way. I was far too busy with my new Samhain contract; I just didn’t have time for a dog. And I wasn’t over grieving for Tazz.


Then fast forward until September 2008. I went to visit friends in upstate New York, and they’d just been given a Maltese puppy. Darling Buffy became my lapdog for the week I spent up there, and I finally realized it was time to start thinking about getting a new companion.

This time it would be a rescue, a small female, and it would be my choice. But I had all these nagging worries. What if I picked a dog with issues? I’d be stuck because I’d never be able to give a dog back. Would I be destined to call Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer? Would I be, for the first time I must add, the alpha in the household?

Having a dog would curb my freedom to travel. Vet bills are almost as expensive as human doctor bills. Yes, I had many, many worries.



So I dithered and withered. I dilly-dallied. But that didn’t keep me from haunting the Maltese and Chow Chow dog breeder web sites. In my surfing I came across the Middle Tennessee Sheltie Rescue. Now a Sheltie is small. But they shed, and this time I sort of wanted a dog that didn’t. I must’ve filled out the organization’s adoption application two the three times, but finally the first of April 2009, I e-mailed it to the director, figuring it would take a while.

The very next day, I received a call from the director of the rescue organization, the wonderful Ann Acuff. She said she had a Sheltie in mind for me, one who would love to have a forever home and who was a bit of a diva. I told Ann I worked from home and had a fenced backyard. We made an appointment for me to meet Cassie. Oh, and Cassie was on a diet. She weighed twenty-seven pounds when she came to Ann in January and should only weight 15-15 ½ pounds because she’s a tiny Sheltie.

I spent the next few days buying toys, a bed, leash, collar, and a halter/seatbelt kind of deal. Cassie took a trip to the groomer on Tuesday and I went to meet her on Wednesday. OMG! She was beautiful with the sweetest face you’ve ever seen. I’d seen her picture on the web site, so I knew she was a pretty little thing, but I had no idea just how beautiful she truly was. Her weight was already down to 20.4 pounds and I received many instructions on her care and diet.

I took notes—yes, I did.

Cassie and I played some fetch with a tennis ball, and I was allowed to bring her home. She spent a couple of days, sniffing every single corner of my house. Her nose was to the ground. It was twenty-four hours before she so much as barked. She quickly learned where her food and water bowls were and had no trouble telling me when she was ready to eat.

Now that we’ve been together for the last eight and a half months, I can’t imagine my life without her sweet face. She’s spoiled rotten and sleeps on my bed, but for all that she’s still a very good little girl. She guards the cul-de-sac, but she’s a friendly sweet-natured companion.

Adopting or rescuing an animal is a responsibility. No doubt about it. But take it from me, it’s so worth it. Please consider it the next time you think about a new pet. Even if you can’t adopt or foster a dog or cat, there are numerous ways to support the selfless efforts of breed rescue organizations, your local humane society or the ASPCA.

Best-selling Samhain Publsihing author Marie is a regular at the “Shades of Suspense” blog, or you can find her at her website, marienicoleryan.com. To win one of her books, leave a comment here. Winner announced on Friday, January 15th. Please check back to see if you won.

43 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Great story about taking on a huge responsibility. I did put off getting a dog for a long while--they're really almost like children and cats are a little more self-sufficient. (A little.) :) But I can't imagine my life without Chloe now!

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder
Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Yes, they are more like children, and I adore my little girl. She's great company and is always a reason to get out of the chair.

She will not be ignored! And if I'm talking about her on the phone, her head pops up even if I don't mention her name. I suppose it's the tone of voice?


Marie-Nicole
Marie Blogs About Writing

Mason Canyon said...

Wonderful story. When you open your heart to a dog (or cat) your life does change. They are a lot like children, especially when they get spoiled (and you can't help but do that). Always good to "meet" another animal lover.

Maria said...

Fantastic story. Shelties are wonderful dogs. We've had 2 but dad's allergies get in the way of us getting another one at this time. I would love to have another one though. Rescuing a dog is a wonderful thing to do.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

I'm such a total pushover, except when it comes to her diet. Her weight is closing in on ideal. I weigh her weekly and make sure she hasn't too many treats. She weighs 17.4 lbs now and is so lively. She just makes my heart happy.


Marie-Nicole Ryan writes award-winning romantic suspense and erotic historical westerns for Samhain Publishing.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Maria--Recusing was something I really wanted to do, and it's turned out wonderfully. Cassie is a wonderful little dog, and I can't imagine why someone gave her up. I don't see any signs that she was mistreated, other than being overfed which I think was probably easy to do because she goes around like she's starving all the time.

Carol Kilgore said...

We, too, lost our beloved chow-chow a few years ago. Life without him was tough. Like you, we started looking online at other chow-chows. One day we went to PetSmart - just to look. A local rescue organization was there with a litter of tiny border collie puppies. We walked past and a couple of aisles later I turned to say something to my husband . . . who was back holding the tiniest little puppy ever. His statement: "I don't care what kind of dog we get, I just don't want one smarter than me." Guess what? Wrangler is a Whiz Kid!

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Oh, Carol! At one time my son and I had two male Border Collies and the male Chow Chow. I know what you mean by Whiz Kid. The Border Collies were the most energetic dogs under the sun. One of them single-handedly destroyed my house.

I'm just glad I have a spayed female this time who only wants to eat and love me.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Hmm. "Eat and love me" sounds kinda kinky. What I mean to say is she wants to eat everything in sight and be loved. I personally think she only puts up with me because I feed her.

Watery Tart said...

Great tale! I feel about pets exactly like you do--once they come home, they are there forever--family members now, worthy of unconditional love.

All our pets are Humane Society, and our current dog had been dropped off on Christmas Eve when he was only one. He is a Corgy mix and we suspect he was adopted because he was so cute (he is!) but abandoned because he gets mad when you try to tell him what to do--no scolding for a Corgy! But we were patient and learned the alternate methods (mostly distracting, like you do with a toddler) and he is definitely one of us now.

Judy said...

Great story!! Glad you are so happy with her :) My husband and I are both animal lovers. The older my husband gets the worse he gets! He has a Border Collie. Our children are grown and she is his child now. I believe "Lady" gets by with more than the grandchildren!! She has no idea she is a dog. He takes her everywhere with him.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Judy and WateryTart--

I love reading your individual stories. They are so wonderful, and the health benefits to all of us are tremendous.

Talk about being chilled out, my stress level has decreased an amazing amount.

I'm so glad there are people who will adopt abandoned dogs. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's so rewarding.

Marie Tuhart said...

Wonderful story. I'm waiting until I retire to have another dog in my house. I really miss having one around.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Marie--

Yes, my Cassie is so much company. I'm glad I'm at home to keep her company. You know, it's all about her.

robynl said...

wonderful story for me being an animal lover; especially a dog lover. I am so with you Marie-Nicole. We had to put our beloved fur baby down almost 2 yrs. ago and I said there would never be another dog to replace SammyJoe(Sam). App. a month ago I said to dh that I think we need a dog but he hasn't budged. We did have a few problems with some people not wanting our dog in their home so we couldn't go there to visit. Sam was beside us day and night; a friend, companion and on and on.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Robynl-- I so sympathize with your loss, and it's as true a loss as any. I grieved, but it took my friends' Maltese puppy to heal my heart and make me realize it was time for a new dog in my life.

Wendy Qualls said...

Ooh, I love my Sheltie! I actually ended up drifting into a canine search-and-rescue group - they came to give a presentation at my library, and I was interested. Haiku is the smallest dog on the team, at 23 pounds, but he's got more energy than the rest of the dogs put together and he loves having the intellectual challenge each time we practice. (Practice involves hiding someone in the woods, then each dog/handler team goes out one at a time to find them. The dog learns to follow his/her nose, and the handler learns to trust the dog.)

We also ended up accidentally adopting our second dog, Kiki. Of course, this was just after we had moved and I had gotten rid of all the puppy stuff, thinking I wasn't going to need it again! Kiki is dumb as a box of rocks but the sweetest dog you'll ever meet. The two of them are quite a pair!

The Old Silly said...

Enjoyed the story of all the worries being involved with a "dog's life" - lol. Like your writing style!

Marvin D Wilson

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Wendy--Cassie's very "nosy" too. I'm thinking after I move I'll see if I can get her approved to visit the elderly in nursing homes. She's such a friendly little gal, I think she'd be perfect.

The Old Silly--Thank you! Just checked your blog. You're not just silly, but humorous, too.

Kim Law said...

We got one of our dogs and both of our cats at the humane association. That place is tough to go into. You can't hardly stand not bringing them all home. And when I went looking for our cats, one of them picked me! She reached her paw out toward me as if begging me to take her home. She wasn't a tiny little (cute) kitten, but wasn't full grown either. I felt like she was begging me not to leave her there. She's the sweetest thing ever. Of course, so are my other animals...but none of them personally picked me :)

Marie, I'm glad to hear Cassie's diet is still going well. One of our dogs got way too big and started having arthritis and hip pain. The vet said diet. So diet we did. He ended up losing 45 pounds to a perfect weight. The vet was shocked, said most people give in on the treats too much because the dogs beg for them. But there is such a difference in him with the weight off and we haven't seen any more signs of pain.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Kim, that's just wonderful that you dog managed to lose 45 lbs! Wow! Mus've been one big dog.

Sometimes the animals know who they're supposed to go to. I tried the Humane Society first and came away empty handed because all the small dogs were in the process of being adopted, and I just couldn't handle another big dog like the Chow Chow because when he got where he couldn't walk, I couldn't pick him up to take him outside.

Cherie Denis said...

As Cassie The Wonder Dog's official grandma, I just wanted to say what a joy it is to have Cassie visit us when Marie has to go out of town on business. My dh and mom (official great-grandma)all enjoy her sweet nature and lovely lady-like manners.
Our cats, on the other hand, are still debating whether they like Cassie or not. GG's cat, Missy, thinks Cassie is great, but my old gentleman, Shelly, isn't much of a gentleman when she's visiting.
Marie couldn't have picked (or been picked by Cassie)a prettier, smarter little lady to keep her company.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

You're so sweet, Cherie. Cassie has a wonderful time with you and your DH. Thanks for taking time to stop by.

KELLY FITZPATRICK said...

I got my American Cocker from Paws as a foster dog and my dog Max from the Humane Society. He had so many issues they let me slide on the adoption fee. He needed nearly $1000 in surgery, but I'd just lost a dog and my hubby was ready to pay any price to make me happy. He was 6 then. Now he's 13 or 14 and slowing down.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Cassie is such a cutie! I'm so glad she found a good home with you, and you got a wonderful companion.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Thanks, Trish. Appreicate your coming by and commenting.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Kelly, I think fostering and adopting dogs/cats is one of the most selfless things we can do, and just think of all the benefits. We have companionship and less stress. It's win-win for all involved.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

I hope everyone will remember to return on Friday to see who the winner of my contest is.

Carol Kilgore said...

I thought border collies were energetic, too, until we also acquired a blue heeler. Our home is a disaster zone.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Gracious me, Carol.

At one time I had the two Border Collies and the Chow Chow and it was a madhouse most of the time. Cassie is much more sedate even though full of energy. She's such a lady.

Ray said...

My first dog was a Border Collie. He took care of me when I was outside. Most of my memories of him were when I was four years old. My mother just had to periodically look out the window to see the dog jumping around to see where I was, even in the wheat field with the grain taller than I was.

Before we moved we worked for the Animal Assistance League. My favorite was an Afghan Hound named Aja after the band by that name. She would look at what my wife was cooking and never try to get into the food. I loved the way she would walk around with her nose in the air like a prima donna. Every evening she would run in a circle through the house before going to sleep. One night I was sitting in the living room when she took a leap onto my lap. It took me by surprise.

I love dogs.

Ray

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Great stories, Ray. I've had dogs most of my life as well. Cassie's settling in for the night on the foot of my bed. LOL

Patricia Stoltey said...

My brother and sister-in-law were both in poor health when their daughter decided they needed a dog. She found a rescued Scottie who had obviously been abused and abandoned. Danny now owns all of us. I'd steal him away in a minute, so brother better not turn his back. :)

Sheila Deeth said...

She is gorgeous. I hope we'll adopt another dog one day. Our rescue dog, Maggie, was a treasure.

J K Maze said...

What a great story. I love animals, especially dogs, and always had at least one - until now. I live in an apartment building that doesn't allow pets. So, I make do by visiting my girls. One has a golden retrievr who acts like a rascally teenager - and I love him. The other girl has two English Springer Spaniels and she's active with various organizations. The main character in my current WIP has a sheltie and I'd love to know more about the breed.

Joan K. Maze

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Patricia, I know what you mean. My friends in upstate NY threatened to search my luggage before I left to make sure I hadn't hidden Buffy their new Maltese puppy.

Sometimes kids know best.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Sheila--I'm sure Maggie felt the same way about you.



J.K.--I'm currently working on a WIP with a Sheltie, too. LOL
They are dear little companions, and I'certainly lucky with mine. She was 2 1/2 when I adopted her and perfect as far as I'm concerned.

Silvia said...

What a great and inspiring post.
I lost my cat a while ago. I'm not yet ready to get another. It's still a bit too fresh. I know in time I will rescue a new companion and hopefully give him or her a nice home. It is a great thing to do for a cat or a dog.

Harl Delos said...

I had a sheltie when I lived on the farm. Shw was *so* sweet. And she watched us go out to the garden every day and pick the ripest tomatoes. One day, I came out and found a dead-ripe tomato on the back steps. Inspecting it carefully, I found very slight dents, not even breaks in the skin.

Shw was watching me, of course. Nothing I ever did outside missed her inspection. "Did you do this?" I scratched her behind the ears and told her that she was my girlfriend.

Next day, same thing. Every day, she picked the reddest, ripest tomato in the patch and brought it to the back steps.

Lordy, I miss that dog. I have a long-haired German Shepherd now. She's also too smart for me - I need something dumb, like a goldfish. If only goldfish were more affectionate....

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Silvia--I'm so sorry for your loss. In time you'll heal and adopt another pet.

Harl--What a funny story. Shelties are smart. I'm pretty sure Cassie understands everything I say.

misskallie2000 said...

I have 4 cats in my home. 1 adopted from family of kittens, 1 from mouth of dog, 1 abandon in empty apartment,and l from pet shop for abandoned pets. I am retired now and they keep me company with their antics and sparing along with yelling loudly at each other. Each is different including their meow.. I did have a collie when my children were small yrs ago and she was so pretty. She was stolen and we never could find her, I am sure Cassie knows how lucky she is to be with you.

booklover0226 said...

I enjoyed reading the post. I grew up on a dairy farm and there were all kinds of pets ALL over the place.

Unfortunately, I don't have a pet (I don't have the time for one) but I do donate to the Humane Society on a regular basis.

Thanks,
Tracey D

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

MissCallie2000. It's wonderful that you've given homes for so many kitties. They're lucky too.

Booklover/Tracey. I certainly understand. Pets take time, especially dogs. I think it's wonderful that you donate to the Humane Society.