Since I introduced myself and our home in my first post, today I want to begin a series of posts introducing you to our dogs. If you know anything about Joe and I, you know that our dogs Millie and Gracie are the lights of our lives. We call them our “practice kids” but really, they’re our babies through and through. I don’t remember life without Millie hogging the whole bed and Gracie pouncing on our heads in the morning. They have taught us patience and unconditional love in ways we didn’t know possible and we love every day with them. Even the days that they throw up at 5am and tear apart the couch. So without further ado, here’s how we found our first baby.
We talked for a long time about what kind of dog to get. We searched weekly it seemed on Petfinder, AdoptaPet, and local humane society websites. I grew up with mini dachshunds and that’s all I wanted, but Joe wanted a bigger dog. Originally we planned on only getting one, but that quickly went out the window when we realized how vastly different we were imagining our fur-baby futures. I imagined a doxie and a medium sized dog, 35 pounds tops, and Joe was picturing a pit or a Rottweiler. I tried to tell him how much work a bigger dog would be, but I couldn’t flat out refuse, because he had never had a dog growing up. Our disagreements about breeds kept us from moving forward with the idea for months. We even met a dog at a shelter in Rhode Island – a standard dachshund mix – a sweet girl that was found roaming down south. We walked her around for about a half hour and I was ready to take her home, but Joe said he didn’t feel “the spark.” I thought he just wasn’t ready, because (being a dog person) I feel “the spark” with just about every dog I meet.
I’m so glad we waited. Not too long after, on one of my now regular searches, I saw a beautiful baby pit bull mix with soulful brown eyes staring up from my computer screen.
Her name was Brindle and she was being fostered through a humane society in North Carolina. I sent her photo to Joe and he must have felt the spark he’d been waiting for, because I think I filled out an application that day. We didn’t hear back for almost a week but I called and emailed every day. With every phone call, I poked around for more information and at one point got frantic when someone at the humane society told me that there was another couple from Virginia interested in her too. Finally, we got the call that we could proceed to the next step of the adoption process: personal references and a virtual home check. We passed both and found out that she would be ours in a few weeks.
At that point, we found out more about “Brindle.” She was rescued in an emergency situation when she was between five and six weeks old, along with 16 other puppies. There were two separate litters, born a day apart and both from pit bull mothers, fathers unknown. The “brown litter” that Millie came from was in better shape size-wise, because their mother was able to nurse them, but so badly infested with worms that it almost killed them.
The “white litter” was more emaciated, because their mother had rejected them and they were being fed handfuls of dry kibble twice a day. The puppies were covered in feces and needed baths immediately when their foster family took them in.
They then began the process of nursing them back to health, for which we are forever grateful. Their foster mom said she took them to the vet in a panic twice, not expecting them to live. Our girl spiked a 105-degree fever at one point and their foster mom said she was sure Millie would die. Luckily, she pulled through and the pups went up for adoption once they were healthy enough. That’s where we came in!
Once we got the okay that we were set to adopt her, I got in touch with her foster family, who provided me with a little more information and photos of our soon to be baby girl. They described her as “a clever little girl, the smartest puppy in her litter of 7. She figures things out first and is very responsive to people. She’s always making a plan to be picked up and be loved, and would like to be someone’s little shadow. She expects only the best from people. Bold and friendly, she wants to please and will make every effort for you.”
Millie came home to us when she was 10 weeks old, on June 20, 2014. Her “gotcha” day. She was a clumsy, tiny, soft little thing with those same soulful eyes. Despite everything she’d been through, she was full of love to give away and I credit her foster family for that. They taught her that not all people are bad, and they taught her when she was young enough that she probably doesn’t even remember her horrible beginnings (yes I believe she has memories!).
Millie fit in with us right away. She was full of energy but super smart and ready and willing to learn. At 12 weeks she knew sit, lay down, roll over and paw. We were exhausted but so excited about all the new chores and responsibilities that came along with raising a puppy. We loved walking her (even though she was a terrible on a leash) because we got compliments on how beautiful she was everywhere she went. We loved waking up early (even though we went to bed late) because she was so excited to get out of her crate and back into our arms. We loved going to the pet store (even though we ended up spending way too much money) because we had so much fun spoiling her with chew toys and treats. We were obsessed with her, to say the least. We bragged about her; we spent every second we weren’t at work with her; we took a million pictures and showed them off to everyone who would listen. We even took her with us everywhere.
We spent a month and a half loving Millie with our whole hearts, because soon, she’d have to share the love! But we’ll get to that…
We’ve gotten a lot of questions about Millie’s breed. The only thing we know for sure is that her mother was a pit bull. We were told by the humane society that the father was unknown, but when she came to us, her paperwork said “pit/aussie mix.” No elaboration. We don’t know if “aussie” was supposed to mean Australian Shepard, but that seems unlikely now. We think it was a guess based on her pale eyes when she was a baby. Now that she’s grown up a bit, we have our suspicions that she is at least part Plott Hound, or maybe some kind of brindle pointer. She definitely has a hound howl. Her tail has a curl to it, and she’s lankier and taller than most pit bulls.
We are so thankful that Millie is ours. She turned a couple into a family, and I can’t imagine life without her now. I’ve learned to keep the counters clear, because she’ll steal whatever you leave there, and to never leave food unattended, especially cheese and bacon. I’ve learned there are more important things than sleeping in late and the couch is a lot warmer when there’s a dog head in your lap. I’ve learned what carpet cleaners work best (ha!) and not to leave my socks on the floor. She keeps us in check and tests our patience every day and we are so thankful to give her back the happy life that she has given us.
Come back tomorrow for Gracie’s story!