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I’ve been posting about two months now and realized I am remiss in introducing my two main “men”: Gonzo and Beau. Both my dogs are rescues from the southern US, that I adopted while young puppies (8 weeks). I talk about them all the time and their photos are all over social media. Without further ado please allow me to introduce them.
Gonzo “The Babysitter”, 5 years old. (North Carolina)
This beautiful black boy is my first baby. About 5 years ago, my sister and her then husband adopted a beautiful puppy and posted a picture to social media. I had a 3-year old and 18-month old twins at the time but apparently my puppy clock was ticking because I was so jealous. I knew we would be getting a dog sooner rather than later and I was in love. I was away for the weekend with girlfriends at my alma mater, the University of Delaware, and spent the bulk of the time getting information on his litter mates from my sister and convincing my husband that we needed to adopt RIGHT NOW.
Gonzo’s litter was pulled from a kill shelter in North Carolina. The previous “owner” described them as lab/ shepherd mixes and 2 of the litter were so ill they died in the shelter. The rest of the litter was taken and fostered in the hopes of finding them a forever home. I never met Gonzo before adopting him. His foster name was “Champ” because he had facial scars that convinced the foster family he’d been through a lot and come out a winner. After seeing videos of the individual puppies, we chose him.
It was the best decision, but he was a horrible puppy. House training was a nightmare. He would look at me and cock a leg, daring me to stop him. He ate EVERYTHING. We have a fenced-in yard with woods behind and he dug a thousand holes and tried to escape to the woods whenever he saw wildlife. At 5 years old he still will take off if given a chance. I've heard rumors about his double life as a musician in Asbury Park, and hear he's quite the card shark in Atlantic City (as detailed on Instagram).
For all Gonzo's foibles this dog is a saint when it came to my children- they grew up together. And he is so dog-friendly it is ridiculous. He’s a favorite at his daycare, Dogs on the Farm, where we take him once a month to play. We refer to him as “The Babysitter” because we can have all the children in the neighborhood over to play and he is always looking out for the kids and playing beautifully with them. I’ve never once worried. I just wish he wasn’t a wanderer.
Beau “The Guardian”, 2 years old (Kentucky)
I’ve always wanted to have two dogs. When Gonzo was three I thought it was the perfect time to look for a playmate. So I started the search for a rescue pup. After a lot of looking I found him at a small rescue in Kentucky, Kindness for Homeless Paws. He was listed as “Ajax”, an Anatolian Shepherd, Great Pyrenees, Lab mix. I fell in love with him. The foster mom gave me pictures and descriptions of him. He would carry around his favorite toy and sleep with it. He was the runt of the litter. The day we picked him up from transport he tried climbing my leg, wanting to be picked up and snuggled. He sat in my lap the whole ride home, and has been my velcro dog ever since. He adopted me as much as I did him.
As an Anatolian Shepherd mix, Beau had the potential to be HUGE. He seemed to cap out about 75 lbs, tall and lean. So I think a lot of the lab negated his growth potential (Male Anatolians can reach 150 lbs). He was half-starved with ribs protruding and would get so worked up before meals that his whole body would shake. I mean full tremors with quivering lips and drool. Broke my heart. Regular meals and training helped with that. But even now he starts bugging me 15 minutes before dinner. It’s annoying but hilarious. Beau's naughty thing? He eats poop. We have tried training, tablets to make poop smell bad, and changed his diet. Nothing works, at this point it's habit. All we can do is following both dogs in the yard and pick up the feces ASAP.
He has the sweetest heart and will do anything for food, which made training simple. But he is naturally timid and I have done a lot of work to desensitize him. Anatolians are highly intelligent shepherding and guard dogs. He is my protector and guardian, and takes his job very seriously.
Because of his protective instincts I never leave him alone with neighborhood children like I would Gonzo, and always take great pains to introduce him to new people carefully. When I walk him I have to keep him away from other dogs and men because he’s determined that I must be protected. (Anyone else can walk him without issue). We’re working on that. Alternatively at the day care he is so friendly and happy. He does play more aggressively but the pack keeps him in line and he has to mind his manners. He needs it because Gonzo lets him get away with way too much. Beau is intense, in your face, and full of love. I have a special place in my heart for Beau. He thinks he’s tiny and still tries to get me to pick him up and snuggle him.
Both my dogs were rescues from kill shelters in the southern US. I love mixed breeds. While I am so thankful to have my boys it is vitally important that we educate the masses and get our animals spayed and neutered. I can't imagine my life without Gonzo and Beau in it. I hope you enjoyed reading about my dogs. You will likely see them all over my Instagram account, and their photos just don't do them justice!
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Heather Wallace is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist (ESMT), Certified Canine Massage Therapist (CCMT), Aromatherapist. She is also the writer and editor for the blog, Bridle & Bone. When she is not spending time with her family or working, Heather can be found playing with her two rescue dogs or riding at the barn. The best thing that she can imagine is having a career improving the quality of life for horses and dogs alike.