As it often happens I meet people at the park with their dogs, and we strike up a conversation. I met Tracy recently, and her dog Sampson. We hit it off right away – despite all the mosquitos lately! I asked where she got Sampson, since his look is sort of unusual. Not something you see on a regular basis at the park. It turns out she had rescued Sampson and the following is their great story.
Q: Have you owned a dog before?
A: I always had dogs growing up. However, my family always had smaller dogs like Shih tzus.
Q: What made you decide to get a dog?
A: I have been on my own for quite some time, and I guess from always having a dog growing up I just wanted one of my own now. Also because of always have smaller dogs, I had also wanted a bigger dog for a change. I knew though that I wanted to adopt, again something that I always wanted to do. So when I made the decision that I wanted to actually get a dog of my own, I knew adoption was the only way.
Q: Did you look at many places?
A: I looked at all the major shelters/humane societies around. The two main ones though were Durham and Toronto Humane society. It’s great because you can go online and take a look at what dogs they have available, see the photos they have, read a little bio. It’s a good way to start getting a feel about what is out there and about what you may want.
Q: In your mind did you have an idea regarding what type of dog you wanted?
A: A Labrador was definitely always on my mind. I knew they were great dogs just from friends having them and such. I also knew that I didn’t want a puppy that wouldn’t be trained at all. I was looking for a dog that had some training and not too young.
Q: Where did you find Sampson?
A: I found him at the Durham Humane Society. At the time I was living in Uxbridge, and Sampson was actually a “foster camper” at a great boarding facility in Uxbridge called Dogs at Camp.
Q: Please share how you decided he was the one.
A: In all honesty, it was the look in his eyes when he jumped up and put his paws on my shoulders when I was saying goodbye. It was a look that said he just needed some love. So from knowing it in my gut that he was the right dog, when I got home and thought about it more, I also liked the fact that he was indeed house trained, well socialized (because of being at the camp), super friendly to people, and he already knew simple commands too.
Q: What was the process in getting him?
A: I found that every humane society/ shelter is different, but the process at Durham was really quite easy. I filled out an application form and dropped it off. They reviewed it; I went in and had a brief meeting with a coordinator there. From there, I was approved for the adoption and paid all the fees. Then I coordinated with the boarding facility in Uxbridge to pick him up the following Saturday.
Q: What was his history prior to coming to you as a forever home?
A: Supposedly Sampson was adopted twice and returned before coming to me. From what I found out, one home said he was too aggressive and the other home said he didn’t make it as a guard dog. Due to the chance that he could be aggressive, I really focused in on that, making sure I was asking all the staff at the camp about him and even at the shelter. I even visited Sampson 2-3 times before going ahead with the adoption. Therefore, I never actually learned what brought him to the shelter to begin with.
A word of caution though, in this case Sampson is no way aggressive at all. He honestly just needed a loving and caring home. While it is good to know the history of the dog, it is also good to try and find out the type of people who adopted him as well. Some homes are just not meant for big dogs. The owners can be intimidated and not know how to handle a bigger dog like Sampson. A play time can be misconstrued to be an act of aggression very easily. I think this is what happened in the first home from all the information I was able to collect, and therefore it is always good to try and get as many sides of the story as possible.
Q: What was the transition like when he came to live with you?
A: I think the transition went really well. You have to remember that the dog has no idea what is going on. Especially for a dog like Sampson who had been adopted twice before, you could really see that for a while he was just waiting for me to take him back. There was definitely a time period where I needed to show I was the one in charge and to gain his trust. He had to learn that I wasn’t going to take him back and that I was someone he needed to listen to. As I said before, he was house trained, which was fantastic! He only had one accident in the house and that happened because he didn’t know where he could go outside, so really that is expected. It took time to just get him into a routine and again have him trust me that if he wanted out, I would let him out and such.
Q: Have there been any problems?
A: In all honesty, nope! There have definitely been some times where it is challenging and you have to develop new routines and train him on new things… but it’s worth it. A little patience goes a long way.
Q: How has he changed your life?
A: It’s unbelievable to see the bond that him and I have. The level of trust and respect between the two of us is indescribable and I am just so happy that I am able to give him a loving and caring home that he really deserved. The bond that we have took time to form as well, and really is still forming! It’s just great to see his personality come out, and to see him understand when I am super excited, or maybe a little down and for him to be there. He really can be a breath of fresh air on those gloomy days.
Q: Do you have any advice to others thinking about getting a dog through similar circumstances?
A: Absolutely, do your research and be honest with yourself! You may think you want a specific type of dog for whatever reason, but be sure that you understand what that dog is really going to need. Then ask yourself, can you give that? Can you give it the exercise that it needs? The training? Dogs can be a lot of work, but if you’re honest with yourself and do your research, you’ll end up with a dog that truly enriches your life. Then it’s not so much work, but something that you actually enjoy and want to do.
Q: Do you have any fun stories about him?
A: I think every day with Sampson there is some kind of fun story. However, the one that sticks out in my head the most is in the evenings when I am watching TV or just hanging out, Sampson loves to go into the bedroom and grab his bed. He will then drag his bed in and around the furniture and out to the TV room, fluff it up big and then cuddle it for the entire evening until bed time. It’s absolutely ridiculous to see him trying to drag this bed in and around things, but without fail he does it every night. Even staying at friend’s places, he will go and find his bed and drag it into the room with us.
Q: What are his favorite things to do?
A: He loves to go to the dog park and play! Since he was at the dog camp, he was so well socialized and he really loves to go out there and meet other dogs! He loves to cuddle. Also tug-o-war is one of his favourite games to play. Sampson doesn’t like to play fetch, but you get some kind of rope and he will play tug-o-war all day with you!
Q: Does he have any quirks or is he scared of anything?
A: Sampson has a variety of quirks haha! When he really wants your attention he almost starts trying to talk to you… so he will do this moan/squeal kind of noise and then put his head right in your lap or nudge you on the leg. He isn’t really scared of anything, except for the Vet. We are working on trying to decrease his anxiety going in there.
Q: Anything else to add?
This again proves how positive an experience can be getting an older dog, and the reward that comes with willing to take a chance. I love that she listened to his history, and was willing to take him on. I know personally myself, having acquired a dog at the age of seven, it can be a wonderful experience. There is something about getting an older dog versus a puppy; there is a gratefulness that is evident. I have heard this many times, of a dog “choosing” a person. I love when magic happens.
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