Two years ago, we brought Lola into our home, bringing our dog pack up to three. We never expected to be a three-dog household, but Lola needed a place to crash.
When we met her, Lola was staying with our groomer. From what we understand her first home had been chaotic, filled with several children and endless activity and confusion. That might sound like dog paradise, but Lola is a designer breed: part poodle, part Yorkshire terrier. Yorkies don’t do well with chaos, and the Yorkie is strong with Lola.
Lola had a sister, and they were surrendered at the same time. Her sister had already found a new home, but Lola had issues — issues with men, especially in dark uniforms, issues with other dogs near her food, and issues with big dogs getting near “her people.” Our groomer also raises German Shepherds, who Lola took immediate offense to. That meant Lola couldn’t stay in the house; she needed to stay in the shop kennel, or with the groomer (as long as she wasn’t grooming big dogs.)
When we first met Lola, she was sharing the kennel with a Boston terrier imitating a car alarm. Six weeks later she was still there, and the terrier was still yelping to beat the band. Six minutes of that racket drove me to distraction; six weeks was unimaginable.
I’m sure you can tell where this is going.
Lola came home with us until we could find a forever home for her. There were some rough edges at first: dominance issues and territories, feeding arrangements, and triggers. Lola and Sophie, our Cockerpoo, faced off for Alpha status a few times. Scamp took his Omega status in stride; Scamp takes everything in stride, it seems.
We learned that mealtimes needed to change. Lola and Scamp took their meals in their crates, as Scamp always waits until the others have eaten, and Lola inhales everything in sight, including Scamp’s supper. I don’t think she’s ever tasted a thing in her life; it’s gone too fast for that.
Walking expeditions also changed. Because of her territorial nature and aggressive tendencies towards other dogs, we started walking the neighborhood at odd hours. When we would have stopped to talk to people before, now we needed to keep moving to keep Lola’s barking and general over-the-top behavior to a minimum. Muzzles really didn’t make a difference; she still barked and growled herself silly. Walks slowly dropped off, until we started leaving the pack at home, defeating the whole purpose of walking the dogs.
For the first few weeks, my work uniform startled her into a barking frenzy, one I needed to talk her out of before she would calm down. She also has a thing with feet. If you brushed her with your foot as you walked by, bumped her with your toe because she was always underfoot, or even simply stepped near her, she would yelp like she’d been gutted. She never grew out of this.
The thing that broke my heart the most, however, was the fact that she had no idea how to play. Sophie loves tug-of-war and keep-away, Scamp loves fetch, and they both love catch-me-if-you-can. But Lola’s idea of recreation was sentinel duty. She’d sit on the back of the overstuffed chair in the family room and announce any intruders to pass the front window, be they mailmen, walkers, wild turkeys, cats, dogs, cars, trucks, squirrels, leaves, breezes … At the first alarm, Scamp would heartily join in. Imagine two Yorkiepoos barking at full volume. It’s deafening.
Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months. We began to suspect that Lola’s temporary status was becoming permanently temporary. By spring (Lola joined us just before Thanksgiving) it seemed obvious and inevitable: this would probably be Lola’s forever home.
Some of Lola’s rough edges did smooth out with time. She grew to eagerly greet me as I came through the door every evening, her nub of a tail wagging at top speed. She even came to enjoy belly rubs and chin scratches. In many ways, Lola became “my” dog, although always on her terms, and always at a distance.
If that was all, things would have been fine. The problem lay between her and Scamp. As time went on, Lola grew more aggressive and intolerant of Scamp. When she nipped at him twice in one week, we knew something had to give. Lola needed a one-dog home.
A shelter, filled with cold block walls, barking and howling dogs, a parade of strangers, and sheer pandemonium would never do.
After photos, Facebook posts, and emails, we found Lola’s new family; a middle-aged couple with no kids and two cats (which couldn’t care less) came to meet Lola one evening. She went home with them the same evening, and on a shopping spree the next day. Walks, car rides, and belly rubs are now the rule, and I predict Lola (Delilah now, “Lilah” for short) is soon to be spoiled rotten.
On the home front, Sophie and Scamp took her absence in stride and have gotten back to normal — a pre-Lola normal no one had realized was missing until now. Sophie’s more laid-back, less on-guard and dominant. And Scamp, well, Scamp’s much more playful; he’s the lovable little buddy we hadn’t seen in two years.
Rescuing a dog can be a trade-off of rewards and responsibilities. Dogs can be incredibly loving and forgiving, but they can also be unbelievably fragile, suffering deep emotional injury, recovering slowly if at all, hesitant to trust again after betrayal. A forever home is a wonderful gift to give, but it must be the right forever home. If your home isn’t the right forever home, it’s okay. Your job was finding that home and providing a warm, safe haven in the meantime.
Lola has a forever home now, one where she can be Lola, er, Lilah.