We (retired Anita and David) are approaching three months of Rosie integrated as part of our family. The match is proving a delight for us – and even Ginny the cat would have to admit it is going better than she would have predicted.
For any family considering adopting a Lab through Brookline, we’d urge you to trust the process. It certainly worked for us.
Autumn, our Brookline volunteer, made clear that she is primarily an advocate for the dog; but has a gift for really listening to and understanding the needs, wants and capabilities of the adoptive family.
Rosie had been a breeder dog for six years, craved close connection to a family, but had little experience of how to achieve that. David and Anita had been without a dog for over 15 years (so felt like dog novices), needed a dog that would get along with resident cat Ginny; David was seeking a companion for long walks who would also be content to hang out as he worked at his desk.
The Brookline foster blogs were a great resource for understanding the range of dogs moving through the rescue pipeline. But it was Autumn’s experience and instincts that suggested a potential match for Rosie. That experience and consistent affirmation and encouragement steered us through Brookline’s “pre-adoptive period” – the two-week trial placement of dog with family.
It is hard to remember now how much anxiety we were feeling the first week Rosie was with us. She went days showing little interest in her meals. Did her years of kennel life mean that walks always would be limited, plodding affairs? Could she feel confident that we’d only leave her alone in the crate for short periods? Could we feel confident that a slow introduction of Rosie and Ginny would lead to a comfortably integrated family (or would we forever be moving through gates between Rosie Zone and Ginny Zone)?
The pre-adoptive period was long enough for us to see substantial progress in all these areas and for us to become thoroughly smitten with Rosie.
Rosie is a gentle, affectionate dog who wants to be with David 24-7, but looks forward to greeting Anita when she (Rosie!) emerges from her crate each morning (and she rushes into her crate when signaled to do so).
She loves her long walks through the woods and fields surrounding our home and is making progress in learning short leash walking through public areas.
Ginny is learning to cope (a hiss and a swat when needed) with when she feels Rosie is becoming overly intrusive and Ginny is mastering how to move safely through spaces where Rosie is present; Rosie is accepting with regret and deference that Ginny is not eager to play, but is a regular part of her world at home. We may soon invite Rosie into some of Ginny’s “safe spaces.”
Drawing on our basic obedience training strategies, David is gradually increasing the number of public meetings and places where we can take Rosie. Her gentleness, placid disposition, and delight in receiving affection from those she meets – more than our skill at training — have been the keys to her successfully entering those spaces.
Rosie is the perfect dog for us. She brings laughter and joy into our lives daily.
April 2023 Update:
The basics: Rosie had been a breeder dog for six years, craved close connection to a family, but had little experience of how to achieve that. David and Anita had been without a dog for over 15 years (so felt like dog novices), needed a dog that would get along with resident cat Ginny; David was seeking a companion for long walks who would also be content to hang out as he worked at his desk.
The close support of our Brookline volunteer Autumn during the pre-adoptive trial period was crucial to reaching clarity that this transformation of our lives would be a success. By the end of the trial, we were smitten and Rosie was becoming steadily more at home with us.
We’ve continued to adapt to one another over this first year in ways that have exceeded our fondest hopes.
When Rosie first arrived, her years of kennel life meant that our first walks were limited, plodding affairs. Now, she expects us to take her for a vigorous mile around a nearby park exercise trail, followed by a more relaxed sniffari. She then assists David in a round of early morning outdoor chores and knows that she and he will manage at least one much longer field and woods walk later in the day (sometimes with Anita).
Rosie is content to sleep at our feet during our many sedentary activities and keeps a watchful eye on our more active projects. She is just as content to nap on the back seat during car rides, enjoying whatever adventure awaits at the other end. David has been able to take her to local civic organization meetings, where her gentle disposition and joy in being petted have made her welcome.
She relatively early learned that we would reliably return when having to leave the house without her and is quite content to rush into the crate when we direct her to it.
Discipline doesn’t come readily for either Anita nor David – but we have been consistent in the basic set of rules we set early on. The combination of her sweet disposition and her desire to please us have put limited pressure on us for additional training.
Going very slow in introducing Rosie and well-established cat Ginny has paid dividends. By three months, Rosie had learned (with regret) that Ginny was not a playmate to be chased and Ginny had learned to tolerate having Rosie around – with a well-placed hiss or swat when Rosie’s attentions were unwelcome. One year in, Rosie defers to Ginny as queen of her domain and Ginny will sometimes accommodate Rosie on what were supposed to be Rosie’s bed pads.
This year has been a very pleasant process of all us imperceptibly adapting – with the end result that we delight in one another.