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How adopting a dog* has changed my life

*I say dog, I mean furry child


The story of our pup Mike begins in the car journey home from Donegal, a trip that I wrote about in my last post. Actually, I suppose it really begins with an email I sent weeks before, to a Wicklow-based animal shelter, called Milo's Mission Rescue. Slightly lonely in this new Covid world, missing my family dog Max, and just generally craving a canine companion, I suggested fostering a dog to Conor, who loved the idea of helping a doggo out before sending them off to their forever home. Oh, how naive we were. A lovely lady came to complete a house check before we could be approved to foster, and after scoping our place out, she asked me what breed we would prefer. "Any at all," I told her."As long as they can fit in this apartment, we don't care what they look like!" With this in mind, we had no clue what to expect. Would we get an abandoned lurcher? An ageing beagle? A timid westie?


Weeks passed until that car journey home. I glanced at my phone to see a Whatsapp from Milo's and hurriedly opened it. "We have this little boy needing foster," it read. "He's called Mike for now." Mike. Just days before, Conor commented on how much he loved dogs having human-like names. The message was accompanied with a picture of a sleeping Jack Russell Terrier cross puppy; white and fawn coloured coat, floppy ears, arms outstretched. My heart burst. "Niamh! Careful! You're just fostering, remember?" my inner monologue warned.



But then we met him. Dropped over to our apartment by the kind volunteers of Milo's, he bounded up to us and began to lick our faces. He showed us love immediately. Conor and I glanced at each other. We didn't need to say anything; we both knew in that moment there was no way we'd be giving this little fella back. As soon as we got into the apartment with him, I'm not ashamed to say that I BURST out crying. I was flooded with emotion as it dawned on me that Mike was going to be a part of our lives now; I felt overwhelmed but in the best way. He curiously explored every nook and cranny of our apartment, as we set up his new bed and laid out his toys. Suddenly, he was suspiciously quiet. We looked down onto the landing of our stairs, and there was poop everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. But, he looked up at us with those Puss in Boots eyes and all was forgiven (by me anyway, Conor was the one who got landed with scrubbing the carpet)


I'll never forget the first time we brought him out for a walk that evening in the Phoenix Park, luckily for him, his new back garden. The sheer bliss on his face as he playfully jumped through the long grass, ran alongside us and stared transfixed at the deer was so infectious. That night, his first night, I anticipated crying and scratching on our bedroom door. But nope, he slept the entire night through, until we woke him the next morning. Hashtag BLESSED. I told Milo within days that we would be adopting this absolute angel. And his name was staying as Mike.



That's not to say that the next few weeks didn't bring its challenges, though. Mike settled in happily, but there were some issues that required patience; something I have never always had, but that I am grateful to him for teaching me in spades! In the mornings, he would pee all over the carpets, whereas in the evening, he would go from window to door barking aimlessly and relentlessly. But all it took was time...and treats, most importantly treats...to train him with positively enforced behaviour. We also think neutering helped to calm him down (keeping 'the cone of shame' on for ten days was another challenge btw!) and now he is fully toilet trained and prefers to peacefully nap in the evenings, only barking at the window if he sees the neighbour's cat. Which is totally fair enough, like.


The joy that he brings us though, cannot be put into words. The way he majestically struts. The excitement he has at simply waking up to another day. How much he loves loudly *cronching* on peppers and apples. The sleepy Chewbacca-esque noise he makes when you try to move him off your lap. The way he jumps up on our bed to lick our faces in the morning before burrowing down into the blankets to become a living, breathing pretzel. His sweet little face.



Mike has given me something to really, truly care for, to look after. On the days I feel down in the dumps (there have been many the past few months), he spurs me on to get out of the house, to go for a walk, to get out of my head, and he makes me laugh with his constant goofiness (sometimes I think he thinks he's a monkey, with all the climbing he attempts to do). Since meeting him, I'm all-round more content - other than the worry I have of something happening to him - note to self: do not watch My Dog Skip ever again.


If you want a dog, please, please adopt one. Give the underdog (literally) a chance. Instagram is full of designer dogs and dogs from breeders, but look up your local rescue centre before considering going down that road, as you'll be giving a little soul a second shot in life. Click one of the below for more details.


Milo's Mission Rescue

Dogs Angels Ireland

Dog's Trust

MADRA

DSPCA


Oh, and sign this petition to shut this cruel pound in Ashtown down, please?