Pettigrew wasn’t the dog we planned to adopt. When the boys and I returned to the shelter with their father in tow, it was to introduce him to Shadow, a sleek, black retriever.
She fit our profile: a two-year-old female.
She loved chasing balls and our older son had a great time that first visit playing with her in the shelter’s yard. I wanted to capture forever the joy on his face as he threw the ball for her over and over.
So, I had pushed away a few red flags. When left alone in the shelter’s mock living room, she trashed it in minutes. And, during this second visit, we saw another side. As a volunteer tried to lead her into the building, Shadow reared up and planted her forepaws on his shoulders.
I no longer remember how that stalemate was resolved, but I do remember the color draining from our younger son’s face and my own feeling of uncertainty. She was certainly a far cry from the sweet, well-behaved dog with whom I had grown up. Suddenly the image of her trashing a room in minutes was all too easy to believe.
Yet we had come too far to turn back.
At this critical juncture, another worker introduced us to a friendly black dog with white highlights on his muzzle, feet, belly and the tip of his tail. When left alone for the living room test, he behaved. He was food motivated, which suggested he would be easier to train.
He was a bit older and male, but, with the sense that our window of opportunity was closing, we made the call and he joined our family.
Pettigrew does not retrieve. If you a throw a ball, he’ll go after it and then toss it around to play with himself. But he loves long walks. Cuddles on the sofa. Is wicked bright and amazes us with his resourcefulness and perceptiveness. He’s got a strong personality. Losing the dream that Shadow offered was bittersweet, but at this point, I can’t imagine anyone else in Pettigrew’s place.
Is Pettigrew the right dog for us because of who he is and who we are? Or, is he the right dog because we have grown together, found our areas of compatibility, and focus on them?
Does it matter?
If you are curious to learn more about how we finally turned the corner and convinced the two reluctant members of our family that we were ready for a dog to complete our household, please see Gateway Dog.