Our four pugs and two cats were children to us for 20 years. When our last pug passed away on Christmas Eve 2013, we swore we would wait 2 years before adding another fur baby to our family. It was just too much heartache losing 4 of them in the last 3 years, and we hadn't been on vacation without hiring a pet sitter for 20 years. I began volunteering at Animal House in January, 2014 which led to helping with animal care every Friday morning, so I was there quite a bit. I really enjoyed working with the pups. I was doing great helping out each week and not bringing anyone home with me. I would look at the adoptable dogs on the website just sort of daydreaming about who we would adopt if we could. Ander had been on the site for quite some time and he was a pug mix which was ideal. We knew pugs and their health issues, so we thought a pug mix would alleviate some of that since we were familiar with the health issues. Ander had been in foster care for 5 months, so I never actually met him. I thought that if he was still available when we were ready to adopt, he might be the one.
Fast forward to May, 2014 and the Run Fur Fun 5k. I was going to run and my husband and kids were going to volunteer. Ander just so happened to be there as well. We met him and his foster mom and gave him some treats. For the rest of that day, every time I turned around, Ander was there. I sat on the ground and he came over to give me kisses and hang out. While that does not seem all that unusual, considering Ander's past of minimal human socialization, it was huge. His foster moms were amazed with his immediate comfort level. I went home that day and discussions about adoption began. A couple short weeks later, the adoption was complete and Ander began filling a void in our family that we foolishly thought we could handle. Transitioning him took several visits. He was extremely shy and unsure about humans and life in general, so we had to take everything very slowly. No sudden movements, no loud noises, operate on routine only. Every single thing had to be predictable for him. Every time we thought we were making progress, we'd wake up the next day and have to start all over again. We felt like we were living the movie Groundhog Day, which led to Ander's new middle name of Murray for Bill Murray.
I began taking Ander running with me. He was used to daily runs in his foster home, so I figured that would be another familiar thing for him. Our runs became bonding time – and training time since he would panic any time a cyclist or walking/running human got into what he considered to be his personal space. Luckily Ander is a VERY smart boy and is very eager to learn – his foster moms even taught him sign language! He loves to “work”. Due to his territorial nature at home (he’s also part Aussie and Border Collie), we have provided him several “safe” beds in the house, so that when Ander feels scared, he knows he can go into those beds without fear of anyone touching him. It took a while, but with patience and routine, Ander has allowed all four of us into his inner circle and is willingly still working on his trust of others. He continues to love running and hiking (we figure he has to be part mountain goat) and requires that exercise to keep his brain working and satisfy his inherent instincts. We continue to work with him daily, and he has come a long way in the last 7 months. We know he will continue to shine!