I always love dogs. I had two when I was a wee lass. Although I was too young to remember the details, I knew I loved them. Growing up, I promised myself to get myself a dog one day that would live inside my house, a wild concept to have when you lived in a certain neighbourhood in Indonesia in the mid-90s. After we got our condo, the first thing I wanted was to get a dog. Nico, on the other hand, although he grew up with a furry best friend, wasn't so enthusiastic about it. Perhaps his traumatic experience of having other beings (kids (and myself, ahem)) dependent on him for their every needs made the idea of getting anyone or anything else to take care of as appealing as contracting coronavirus.
So we discussed and compromised....
And we got a dog.
My criteria for a dream dog weren’t that complicated; a manageable size dog (not too small I mistake it for a rat, not too big that I would get flattened with its unstrained affection) with a short coat that doesn’t shed that much. I volunteered at a shelter for years in Jakarta before coming to Canada, so I am familiar with the abandoned victim dogs. To me getting a dog is to save one, not to buy one from a breeder. It's just against my morale, Nico also holds the same principle.
I checked the websites of animal shelters in Quebec City and surrounding areas every day for available dogs. After a few failed attempts, I was almost giving up and just put the idea of having a dog aside for another couple of years. Mind you, this was at the height of the pandemic in Quebec where everyone seemed to be looking for a pet, especially dogs. Shelters were nearly empty, but backyard breeders were blooming. I’m not saying all home breeders are crooks, we just wouldn’t be supporting their shady business.
One lazy morning, when I did my daily online shelter stalking, I stumbled upon this adoptable beast at SPCA Quebec (Quebec City animal shelter) whose profile matched our criteria. I asked Nico if we could visit the shelter during our lunchtime to check out the said beast. My intention was only to see the dog in person, but the next thing we know, we come home with the 80lbs beast.
Meet Mutt Damon Indiana Bones Spike
Spike was an abandoned dog with no background history that we know of. The shelter told us that a lady came to surrender the dog she found by the road. He got neutered at the shelter before we adopted him so he was still weak from the surgery. He’s a big dog and although the shelter couldn’t explicitly say what mix breed he is, we could definitely see he shared some genes of big dogs like pitbull, labrador, and GSD.
When you look at him, you would think ‘Now here’s a ferocious beast capable of unthinkable destruction’. But his condition was rather pitiful when we got him. Dumb face, grimy fur, a gastro problem that made him have bloody stool, callused limbs, and shaky thin legs. He was also suffering from inflamed paws caused by allergic reactions to the floor disinfectant used at the shelter.
Did I mention that he's almost toothless too? Well, he is, he almost lose all his back teeth. According to the vet, this condition might be caused by extensive gnawing a strong object like metal or hardwood, indicating he prolly kept in a cage for extensive periode of time and he tried to chew his way out. Poor fido.
Apart from his physical condition, he also suffers from separation anxiety. Dogs from shelters do tend to carry emotional baggage with them. Heartbreaking, I know. For the first few weeks, Spike would run out the door right to the car as if he wanted us to bring him to his old home. He also waited by the door like his former family was supposed to come to collect him anytime soon.
I took a week off from work to be there for his first week with us. I also booked a private session with a professional dog trainer. I wasn’t trying to train the dog to become a model citizen or anything, I just wanted to learn how to handle a dog his size properly. Spike basically is a calm dog and already knows some basic commands, but he does have his strength and boy, he looks like satan’s pet from hell when he’s not happy.
Nico, although at first a bit reluctant about having a dog, turns out to be the best dog dad ever. The dog practically lives on his lap now. The bromance between them developed pretty fast and the dog listens to him very well. They are inseparable
The kids also welcomed Spike with open arms and accepted him as their younger sibling. It took him some time to open up to all of us, but now he couldn’t get enough of our attention and caress. Spike is officially a member of our family and also our customary third wheel on our dates and trips from the day we brought him home from the shelter.