On Being a Rescue Mom

Most of my posts are planned, researched, and thought out. Every once in a while I just have things to say, or feelings to feel so I write them to get them out. Lately, I’ve had a lot of feelings about being a rescue dog mom.

Being a dog mom has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I got Gatsby when I was 19 years old. I was a sophomore in college, very far from home, extremely lost and confused with life, and very emotionally immature. I really was not the ideal candidate to be in charge of another life. In spite of that all, during the summer of 2011, I saw a picture of the cutest little pile of wrinkles I’d ever seen and 4 weeks later I brought him home.

I have always been a fan of adopting pets, but I have to be 100% honest; I always wanted a certain type of dog. I was always a little worried that a recuse dog would maybe not be the breed I wanted or look the way I wanted (shallow — I know), or it would have some underlying emotional and behavior problems that would be annoying to overcome.

Gatsby was somewhat of a “designer dog”. He came from a very exclusive Shar Pei breeder. He was not cheap, and he was exactly the size, color, and gender I wanted. I couldn’t have even dreamed up a more perfect dog by my standards.

Part of me feels bad that I had so many conditions on the dog I wanted. On the other hand, I have never regretted my pickiness because Gatsby is one of the best things that ever happened to me. In my almost 6 years of having him he has brought me so much joy and my heart is so full of love for him.

Adopting a dog is something I always said I would do someday. I would say, “someday I want to adopt a dog”, “someday I’ll do it”. Secretly a huge part of me was really scared I wouldn’t end up with something near as wonderful as my “designer dog”. I’m happy to report that about 8 months ago all my fears were proved wrong when my husband and I met and adopted the most perfectly wonderful dog I have ever known.

We adopted Lyla this past July. She is a pure bred Shar Pei, approximately 2 years old, beautiful, playful, and the sweetest dog ever. She’s also blind in both eyes, and to be honest she did have a lot of emotional and behavior problems that we’ve battled through and continue to battle through.

While I have no way of knowing Lyla’s entire life story, it is likely that she was driven out to the middle of nowhere and dumped there. For some reason that I will never understand, someone decided they didn’t want her. Someone decided she didn’t deserve love or a home, or to even be taken to a shelter. They decided that this blind dog deserved to be left in a ditch.

I can’t even type that paragraph without my eyes filling with tears, because if  there was ever a dog who deserved to be loved and spoiled it would be Lyla.Often times I joke (not really a joke though) about how awesome Gatsby’s life is. My husband and I don’t have kids, and my parents don’t have any grandchildren yet, so for a long time he was the only child and the only grandchild which lead to a lot of extra love and spoiling. He’s lived a great life from the get-go and doesn’t know anything different.

But when I look at Lyla curled up on our couch, or devouring her food, or going crazy with her toys. I know that she knows the exact opposite of that. She knows what it’s like to sleep in a ditch, to be literally starving, and to not even know what a “toy” is.

On paper, Lyla is nowhere near my perfect, ideal dog. If I was shopping for a dog at a breeder I am positive I wouldn’t have chose her. Yet here I am telling you how absolutely perfect we think she is. Which is the exact reason adopting a dog is a such an amazing and rewarding experience. You’re giving the imperfect dogs — the mutts, the blind, the deaf, the physically and emotionally hurt — the chance to be seen as perfect. And every dog out there is perfect for someone.

I firmly believe that everything we do (or don’t do) matters; that everything leads to something else. A lot of times it’s hard to see how your decisions directly effect others or directly do good or bad. Looking at Lyla I can see how our small decision did so much good for this one little pup. We love her so much and while it breaks my heart she had to go through what she did, I can’t help but feel grateful that it brought her to us. She is so perfect in our eyes, and the rest of her life will only be filled with lots of cuddles, belly rubs, and most importantly, love.

 Are you a rescue dog parent? Has it been as rewarding for you as it has been for me?


  • So we kind of did the same thing with Dart that you did with Gatsby. We knew what kind of dog that we wanted and gender and instead of adopting him we got him through a breeder. We love him so incredibly much and he’s definitely had a great life (with a few bumps along the way), but I when I think about future dogs, I know that I’d love to adopt. There are just so many dogs out there that need homes, and I know that they will appreciate how much we love and care for them!

    • exactly how i feel! I don’t regret my decision because i love Gats so much, and even designer dogs need good homes. but the feeling of being a rescue mom has been so incredible i know i’ll do it again.

  • Krista Liguori

    aww she is so cute! That poor thing. How does she cope with being blind? Does she run and walk normally or is she a bit more cautious? I rescued my puppy in the Amazon jungle in Peru when she was three months old! There are so so many dogs and puppies that need to be rescued and cared for but the resources just don’t exist. I try to care for as many of the street dogs I can by bringing them food somethings and playing with them or just petting them, some love they never get. My puppy, Vaquita, is the absolute best thing I’ve got, haha, I joke that she’s the only thing I have in life 😉 The harsh reality is that all of her brothers and sisters from her litter died and she would have died of starvation, disease, or drowning in the river had I not taken her. She had a rough beginning but I took her home young enough that she’s not “troubled” haha, and she is as spoiled as they come.

    • awww! whenever i visit other countries I always want to take them all home with me. that’s so nice you try to care for the other street dogs. I am the same way while traveling, i’m always feeding them and giving them love. Lyla does ok with being blind, she definitely runs into things, lol, but she has amazing smell and hearing, so she really relies on those senses heavily.

  • Megan Miller

    <3 Lyla girl!!! So well said. I love that pretty girl so much!

  • This made me cry! I’m so glad she found her home with you. How people can be so awful is just beyond me.

    • omg, I cried like 5 times while writing this. we love her so incredibly much.