It is not unusual for someone to acquire a pet from a relative who can no longer care for them. Michelle Brewer responded with an emphatic “No” when a relative called about a small puppy she could no longer keep. The dog was an adorable terrier-poodle mix. Michelle explained to her family member that she had never before in her entire life owned a dog and knew little about them. She added, “I’m a cat person. I grew up with cats and currently own cats.”

Somehow Michelle was persuaded to visit the small dog whose future was now uncertain. Her relative’s neighbor expressed an interest, but he lived in a low income apartment complex and had no place for the dog to potty and exercise. Another option being discussed was relinquishing the pup to the public shelter. That did it! Michelle was quick in her decision to take the dog home.

Michelle’s husband was taken by surprise when she returned home that day with a dog. Mike didn’t hide his displeasure at having this unplanned new family member. However, on the third day, Michelle arrived home unexpectedly to discover her husband playing with and snuggling with the dog. They were home free! The dog was extremely happy in their home, and had a calm demeanor for a 6 month puppy. Curiously the dog had been command trained in Italian, and the Brewers were provided a list of translations. Puppy training sessions at PetCo helped with the commands, and Renji now “speaks” English. During the PetCo classes, at least three other customers offered to adopt the adorable pup.

What surprised Michelle the most about becoming a dog owner? She is quick to answer, “I can’t believe how much I love this dog! He needs me so. I miss him every day when I’m at work. I was never a dog person before, but now this dog is my precious baby.” The dog reciprocates the admiration bestowed upon him, loyally following Michelle around the home. “When I take a shower, he waits right outside. When I do the laundry, he sits in the laundry room. When I put on my makeup in the morning, he sits and watches.” The couple recently went away for the weekend, but could not resist calling the Pet Hotel at Barkingham Palace at 10:00 pm to check on the puppy.

In this case, there was a happy outcome for a little dog who needing rehoming. Having to give up a family pet due to some life changing emergency is never easy. A financial or health crisis may lead to this decision. Knowing that the animal is safe and sound with a reliable friend or family member is one of the best solutions. If the crisis is temporary, a friend may be willing to provide interim foster care.

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Please understand that if you surrender a family pet to a public shelter, the animal may be euthanized for a variety of reasons. A future column will deal more extensively with the topic of rehoming. However, a word of caution is needed about posting an ad broadcasting “Free dog!” This will ensure he is not being taken for lab experiments or to be used as bait for a fighting dog.

Meanwhile, Michelle and Mike could not be happier with their first experience as dog owners. Dogs are endearing creatures, and have an amazing ability to express their love for their owners. The Brewers report Renji has acquired quite a wardrobe, and the sweet looking animal sported a menacing shark costume on Halloween. Research has shown that dog ownership enhances the lives of owners both psychologically and physically. In this story, an unplanned adoption had the happiest of outcomes. It is often said that some dogs adopt their owners.

This time of year, one of Renji’s favorite places to nap is under the family Christmas tree. Renji is a lucky, pampered dog dreaming of delicious biscuits and treats in his Christmas stocking.

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