There are many ways to add a pet to your family. Although our first dog, a bulldog named Daisy, was purchased from a breeder, once we learned how many healthy animals are euthanized each year, we decided to rescue our next dog.
Although we loved Daisy’s sloth and chilled out personality, we wanted a much more active dog at that point in our lives. After a bunch of research, we decided that a labrador retriever would give us the combination of a sweet personality and activity—and all the ball playing that we were used to with Daisy.
Some people think that rescuing a dog means only an adult dog, but unfortunately, there are many people who do not spay or neuter their pets and plenty of puppies end up in city/county shelters. Some never find a home and end up an unfortunate statistic.
Godiva was one of the lucky ones. We were working with a rescue group in East Texas to locate a chocolate lab that needed a home and were asked if we’d consider a pup. She and her litter were dumped at a shelter. When the rescue group showed up to save a few animals, they wanted to give her a chance. So one weekend we drove out to East Texas and had a look at the mangy brown pup. We would have loved to take her home right away, but she needed to have shots, get dewormed, and get fully checked out by a vet since she may never have had any vet care. The following Saturday, we drove back out to East Texas and picked her up at a PetSmart rescue event that the rescue group was putting on.
We decided to call her Godiva, a chocolately, yet free-spirited name that seemed to suit her personality. We knew she was probably born in July, given her age, so we picked Bastille Day (July 14) as her birthday.
Godiva the puppy was everything we hoped she’d be. Curious, fun loving, ball-playing and best of all, a lover of all things water. Our neighbors’ lab Buzz Lightyear (named by the kids in the family) taught Godiva the finer points of lab-style swimming in our backyard pool.
But as Godiva grew, went through puppy school, and continued doing her training to learn how to walk well on the leash and come when called, we noticed that her sleek brown coat was changing. She was starting to sprout a mohawk of wavy fur on her spine. Friends and acquaintances told us she was probably not a lab, but a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. She would get a lot bigger.
But the funny thing is she didn’t. At 64 pounds, she’s the smallest of our three—but the leader of the pack. She is sweet and loving and has the most serious “don’t come near our house” bark. Despite being more than 10 pounds lighter than George (the youngest of the three), she is the frequent winner of their tugging games, wrestling and chase. Ducks fear her. Children gravitate towards her because she’s small which is funny to us since Guinness is the most gentle and loves children the most.
When Guinness showed up, she was thrilled to have a new pal to hang out with—and he did an excellent job assisting with her training. When George came along, Godiva paid Guinness’ training forward and helped George learn sit and down in short order.
Godiva is extremely sensitive—don’t say the word “no” or remark “bad girl” unless you want to see her pout, head down, tail between her legs. But show her a squeaky toy or find her a tennis ball in the bushes outside the tennis court in the park, her tail won’t quit. She is my gardening helper and loves to hang out with me whenever I’m puttering around the urban farm, lying in the sun at the foot of one of the raised beds.
She’s not a Chesie, by the way. At a friend’s suggestion, we did a DNA test to figure out her background. Godiva is: lab (mostly), bull terrier, chow and English Setter!
Some people think that rescued dogs know they’ve been rescued. I’m not sure about that, but what I do know is we are lucky to have Godiva in our lives. She makes everyone around her feel like the most important person in the world.
Full disclosure: we have a lot of friends in the rescue world, Bruce has undergone training to help save animals from hoarder/puppy mill situations, and all three of our dogs are rescues.