Monday, July 20


One year ago I welcomed a new roommate--Rowena.

I debated whether to adopt another dog so soon after Ollie died (he got loose and ran in front of a car early in the summer), but honestly I hated not having a dog. So I decided to move forward with adopting a new dog, and I decided to look at dogs that were closer to 30 lbs. since having a larger dog makes sense for security as well.

What I didn't think through was getting a dog that was not quite a year old and as a result to being in the shelter also had separation anxiety and is scared of crates. Add in that Rowena is part lab, part border collie (and therefore high energy) and things started out kind of rocky!

Ollie was almost six when he died, so he was starting to settle down and I was past the problems with chewing, etc. All the sudden I had a dog that not only wasn't "settled" but was able to reach things that eight-pound Ollie never could!


I met Rowena at a pet adoption event downtown and fell in love. She did well on a leash and according to the guy who found her, was house-trained, got along with his three dogs and didn't seem interested in the neighbor's cat. That was before the shelter.

I hadn't made up my mind to adopt her and the guy couldn't keep her (four dogs is a bit much) so he took her to the Tulsa shelter.

I had never been out there before, but my youngest brother and I went to look a couple weekends later's bad. As you walk into the dog section you get hit by a wall of urine-scented air, and that's without the super-sensitive sense of smell that dogs have. The dogs are in pens and in some cases sharing a pen. There was someone mopping up accidents as we walked through, but there were at least 50 dogs and no way to let them outside regularly.

When I saw Rowena there, we took her outside for a bit. She loved playing with the ball and was so excited to have some attention. I just couldn't leave her, and I'm so glad I didn't. However, she couldn't come home with me until the following Monday since the shelter had to spay her before letting her leave.

When I put her back in her pen she wouldn't even look at me. I felt AWFUL. Monday when I went to pick her up she was still on painkillers from the spaying surgery, but she stuck really close as soon as she saw me. I think she knew I was her ticket out of that place.

Part of the problem with picking up a new pet on a Monday when you work full-time is that you then have to leave them at home without supervision for the rest of the week. Tuesday went fine since she was still recovering from surgery, but Wednesday...

I decided to try crating in order to save myself some damage to the house.

Yes, my 30 lb dog crawled out
of that hole she chewed.
Then I decided to try a metal crate. I discovered Rowena trained with Houdini.

I added a latch to the door of the metal crate and tried working with her to make the crate seem like her safe place.

If I wasn't home the crate
was not a safe place.
Finally I decided she did less damage if left out than she did when crated. I might buy stock in dog toys though since I buy tons of them to keep her occupied during the day.

I de-decorated my living room temporarily since Rowena showed a serious lack of respect for books, photo albums and anything left on the tables. I also gained a new appreciation for a spotless kitchen since any dirty dishes or food items left on the counters were in peril.

My house quickly started to look like no one lived here since the bookshelves were empty and the kitchen looked pristine!

I signed Rowena up for obedience classes almost immediately. The great thing about border collies is they are scary intelligent. Rowena is so willing to learn, but the classes also helped with her leash aggression toward other dogs (another result of being in the shelter I think). She gets defensive when on a leash around other dogs, something that the socialization at obedience class helped with.

Rowena on the run.
I've also fallen in love with the dog park. My yard was plenty big for Oliver, but Rowena needs to run. Since I am not a runner, going to the dog park is awesome! She'll run with the other dogs for hours if I let her stay that long.

So many people suggested that I should take Rowena back to the shelter based on how much damage she did in those first few weeks, and while I understood what they meant it made me want to scream. She was only 11 months old, adjusting to a new situation and bored being alone so much. I knew it would get better and the idea that "returning" a pet that you made a commitment to is so acceptable really mad me mad. Maybe there wouldn't be so many shelter dogs if more people accepted the commitment that a pet is BEFORE adopting in the first place.

Rowena slowly began improving when left alone in the house and now I hardly ever come home to damaged items. There are still a lot of areas around my house that need to be fixed though, including the doorway to my garage. Since I leave through that door, it took most of the damage from Rowena's panic attacks when I left her those first few weeks. Now that she isn't actively destroying new things I feel like I can finally start fixing the damage.

Have any of you had tough adjustment periods with new pets?

Those eyes.
Rowena is not a big fan of reading.

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