At the beginning of the pandemic, Brian started looking for a dog. Notice that I didn’t say “Brian and I” or “we”. We were not on the same page regarding this situation because A. He was ready and I wasn’t and B. He specifically wanted some sort of “oodle” to avoid shedding, be kid-friendly, trauma-free and I wanted a rescue. He was scared of the unpredictability of a rescue dog and I was set on rescuing. I was literally a dog walker in New York when I was 23 because I loved dogs so much. But I was pretty afraid of adding chaos to our life and while I love animals, I don’t want every animal as a pet in my house, under my responsibility and obligation to love, and getting the wrong dog just for the sake of having a pet sounded very stressful to me.
So I did the obvious and texted Kristen Bell. I had met her and her rescue pups last year and as we were chatting about the idea of rescuing she said “When you are ready, text me. I know where to do go and how to pick the right one for your family”. So on a random Saturday morning during quarantine, I did. She seemed genuinely excited and gave me a ton of good advice (yes, she is extremely lovely and just as generous as she seems – and yes, she reads this blog).
She emailed her favorite rescue organizations, helped introduce us, and asked me a ton of questions about size, demeanor, age, expectations, etc. and followed up with advice. I took her advice and we started looking. But we weren’t the only people looking for rescues during the pandemic as you’ve probably heard. Like most people, Brian’s argument was that since we never left the house we actually had the time to put into training one right now (HAHAHA) and I couldn’t argue with that. We live in the country with a ton of space. We both work from home. The kids are almost 5 and 7. He’s currently working way less (video production has shut down and no theater work) so he said he would do the bulk of the annoying stuff. He promised. I also knew that he really needed the pick me up that dogs can give humans. Ok. I’d just look.
Now the rescue organizations that Kristen recommended (Mutt Match LA, Wagmor, and The Dog Cafe) had so few dogs, but by looking at their faces online Brian fell in love with the idea of a rescue pup. Not to shame anyone who adopts a bred dog, AT ALL, I just felt that it was what our family should do. I grew up with rescue dogs that we literally found on the side of the road on a road trip. And one of the things that changed Brian’s mind re rescues was that Kristen said with a rescue dog (versus new puppy) is you actually DO know more what type of dog you are going to get, rather than a puppy whose personality you can’t even see yet.
So he started shopping every. single. day and they were getting adopted so fast we kept missing them. We went to an adoption fair (drove 2 hours back to LA near LAX) only to be told that they were all spoken for despite having an appointment. The kids were devastated and confused, obviously, but it was a good lesson for them, too. Those kids need more rejection in their life anyway. The other fair was similar – none left that were good for kids (by the nature of being rescued a lot of them need rehabilitation and training and yes, could still be traumatized and be aggressive).
We were pretty open about breed, size, and age. Our main requirements weren’t small though – we wanted calm, affectionate, not jumpy, not loud and barky, happy energy, and most importantly for the kids, not aggressive. It took months…
So we found a couple of shepherd mixes still available at a rescue in San Bernardino and took the kids down to check them out. It was a situation out of the movies. We saw these two dogs on our way in, but we weren’t there to see them and were guided to keep walking while looking back. As we walked past the rest of the dogs, they were all barking and jumping at the site of people, but those first two… they were chilling.
The guy led us into the meeting area and brought the first shepherd mix over and while super sweet even the guy that worked at the rescue was like, “oh no, he’s not for your kids” as he jumped all over them and knocked them down. We asked about the other dog and he said, “no, he’s even bigger and can’t stop jumping”. The kids were disappointed but, like the feel-good family movie that we were apparently acting in, Brian and I looked at each other and said “What about those two?” The man replied, “Oh those? Yah, they came from a litter of 7 puppies that were bred for Christmas money but were born too late. They are the last two left”. I didn’t know that was a thing which is sad on many levels, obviously. He said this happens every year:( Christmas puppy rejects? Born too late? Or maybe born exactly when they should have been?? Perhaps this is more a hallmark holiday movie than Disney movie and by golly will we have a happy ending??????
So they brought the rejected “Christmas” pups over and it was like a DISNEY and HALLMARK “meet cute” moment. They didn’t jump but were so excited and happy and sweet. It was a big sweet love fest and the kids were so excited. They were brother and sister of the same litter (twins!). They had been there for a while (I have no idea how they were still available) and we obviously couldn’t just adopt one and leave the sibling. They were 8 months old (Kristen told me to not get under a year, sorry KB) and the rescue said they were full-grown (not true). We don’t know what they are but they said “husky poodle mix”. We immediately said we would foster and see if they were the right fit for our family (thus staying quiet for a bit). I was still nervous about making sure that these pups were right for us and wanted to live with them for a bit. People give back rescue dogs frequently when they aren’t the right fit (especially with kids involved) so I was nervous and didn’t want to tell the world until we KNEW.
Well, the dogs out the bag, and I can solidly tell you that these two pups are indeed HOME. And not because they have the same hair color as their human siblings and match the wood flooring in our home (it’s actually ridiculous). No, it’s because they are so sweet, so affectionate and cuddly, they love the kids, love each other, are obsessed with Brian (and me) and have indeed added so much joy to our lives in the short time they’ve been with us. They have the exact right chemistry of energy for us – enough to want to play with the kids, but then they come inside and nap and chill. Or maybe dogs just match the energy needed by their parents. They are achingly cute. The fact that they were the last two left of the 7 pup litter begs the question – If these were the rejects, what did the other 5 look like??? We’ll never know and I don’t care. These are OUR PUPS!!!!!!!!
So, world, I’d love to introduce you to Oscar and Buttercup Henderson – named by the kids, obviously. Oscar has the black tips on his ears and Butter looks like a stick of butter. We have thought about renaming him Ralph because he throws up every time he gets in a car. And she came to us with two large ticks (the rescue isn’t one that I’d recommend if you know what I mean – more of a pound). We are still training them to walk on a leash and to not treat our home like a two-story litter box. But all in all, they are actually such great dogs. I don’t know how it happened. But maybe it’s like having kids – once you are in love, once they are part of you, every parent looks at their kid and thinks, “I can’t believe how special you are and how much I love you”. That’s what love does to you, and thank god because the 5 am barking to go out and the pile of dog shit on top of the pile of clean clothes ON TOP of the guest bed can only be tolerated once in love. We took them on a hike the other day in the car and I prepped my lap with two towels. As Oscar ralphed multiple times in the 15-minute drive I just quietly kept scooping it up, and making him more comfortable by blasting the AC.
Listen, “not pukey” wasn’t on my requirement list and you can’t have everything. Is it strange that I can handle lap puke so much more than a dog that barks all the time? We all have our things.
So get prepared to get to know them and see them on social and here now and again. And if you are on the fence about rescuing or adopting, just give rescuing a whirl first – it can work out! If you have your heart set on a purebred or a designer mixed dog there are a ton of rescue agencies that take the “rejects” and find them homes. So with a bit of research, you might be able to rescue a pup that is actually the best fit for you and your family.
We did. 🙂
Ok, one more – INTRODUCING OSCAR AND BUTTERCUP HENDERSON!!!!!!!