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We added a new member to our family today, of the four-legged and fuzzy variety. Her name is Pumpkin, and she was placed in our home by a dog rescue group.

Getting a rescue is kind of stressful. You put your name on lists. You get a call that dogs need a home. You have to sit down, talk it over, and decide whether to say yes. Do you have the time? The money? Then, you still don’t know if you’ll get the dog. People volunteer ahead of you. People drop out. You get a phone call asking if you are still available? You ponder again. You say yes, but you still can’t be sure until you actually pick them up. (To be fair, I’m sure it’s much more stressful for the animals.)

To top it all off, you don’t know much about the history of the dog and any health and/or behavioral problems. She’s intact, so we will try to take advantage of the discounted spay and neuter services that many humane societies offer. As for Pumpkin, we don’t know much about her history, but from what we were told she was one of 20 dogs someone used to run a puppy mill in their house. We assume that she’s been stuck in a cage much of her life, as she is over 2 years old and is not potty-trained nor leash-trained. She’s a bit skittish, but I can already see her coming around. I don’t have any eloquent words, so read these instead.

This will of course affect our finances, but we’ll take it as it comes and I already know I’ll be getting a huge increase in the quality of my life. Dogs seem to take love and multiply it! Hey, at least our holiday gifts to each other are taken care of already. 😉 Let’s hope the house-training goes by quickly…

(Guess why her name is Pumpkin…)
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  1. What you and your wife did is wonderful. Not only choosing to adopt Pumpkin, but writing about it on your blog. Puppy mills are something I only became aware of earlier this year due to involvement with several animal welfare organizations. Along with dog fighting – it’s just once of those horrible things we don’t realize goes on. Of course, no one famous has been caught with puppy mills yet so it’s just not as prevelant in the news.

    I encourage you to check out a National Geographic Special called ‘Dogtown’. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a documentary on a group called Best Friends, located in Utah. (www.bestfriends.org) They take the animals that are considered unadoptable by other groups and rehabilate them. They’ve been working with the Vick dogs…and many puppy mill rescues.

    I’ve subscribed to your blog a little over a year and enjoy it very much. Once again, thanks so much for this one.

  2. Congratulations! Rescuing a dog is one of the best things you can do. Merry Christmas to you both and to Pumpkin.

  3. Congrats on your pup! You’re totally right about dogs really adding something to the family–I can’t imagine our life would be nearly as full without our dog. We just dropped her off at the kennel (the “Doggie Hotel,” we call it when we’re talking to her) for Christmas and it’s a melancholy morning–normally she’d come with us, but we’re traveling more that usual, and that would be way too stressful on her.

  4. Congrats on pumpkin. Dogs bring a lot of love into the house. We just celebrated the one year anniversary of bringing home our boxer. We’d like to get a rescue dog someday. My family has always rescued cats.

  5. Pictures please?

  6. No PICS of Pumpkin????????????


  7. Congratulations on adopting a rescue instead of buying a puppy. You are part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. I wish you many years of joy with Pumpkin who is lucky to have found you. If you do encounter problems, make sure you communicate with the rescue group as they probably have lots of experience.

    Happy New Year to you and your family (including Pumpkin!)


  8. Congratulations! I think it’s wonderful you got her from a rescue group, it’s amazing how many purebred dogs end up in rescue. Have fun!

  9. Thats gret news on the dog, so good of you to adopt too.

  10. Congrats! Adopting my rescued dog was absolutely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

  11. Hooray for dogs! We just got one last week.

    My quality of life has gone up by minus 5 pounds already since the choice for a dog was a choice against our passion for eating out and a choice for walking. Even with training and vet bills, he may actually work out as a savings.

    As for dog books, might I recommend Being Your Dog’s Best Friend, by the Monks of New Skete. It is written as a narrative rather than a manual(but does have instructions), and is aimed at companion animals. It is neither too sentimental nor too competition oriented.

  12. Pics !! Pics !!

    Congrats and Merry Christmas!

  13. Thanks for all the well-wishes. It’s a big event for us.

    I know, DW is chiding me for not uploading pics too. I’m working on it!

  14. Congratulations on Pumpkin! We have a 3 year old Rottweiler that has been a Godsend to us! 🙂

  15. Princess Falafel says

    Let’s see some pictures!

  16. Put up a picture I had from the group.

  17. Awwww!
    That’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! I’m sure she’ll bring you many years of joy. Good luck with the training!

  18. Very cute indeed!

  19. Happy Holidays and thanks for all your advice throughout the year.

    Score on the cool doggy! I think dogs remind us to look at life with a smile. Enjoy!

  20. Congrats on the adoption.
    We foster weimaraners… have one now that was used in a puppy mill – they were going out of business and planned to shoot her 🙁
    She is going to her new home this weekend – she has a sweet little 4-year-old that will be her new best friend!

  21. I’ve always been a lurker here…but needed to say congrats on your new dog. Looks a little like a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from the large eyes and they do come in all Ruby color (hence Pumpkin). Plus, I have a Cavalier and they are AWESOME dog.

    More info here (and your dog kinda looks like the Ruby one in the very bottom picture) > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavalier_King_Charles_Spaniel

    And while dogs can be a financial addition to your family, they are a very worthy addition to any family. A a dog will get you out walking during the nice weather, has been proven to reduce stress (can you put a price on that?) and always there to cheer you up at the end of your day no matter how much the stock market tanks! LOL

    Also, make sure to get her on a good quality food also (not IAMS or any of the Store Brands though). Small, dogs really don’t eat that much, under 1cup a day approx. (and my 17lb dog takes about 3 months to finish a 15-17lb bag), and you’ll be doing your dog a huge favor in the end. Go here for dog food reviews > http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/

    Best of luck and do post some more pics!

  22. Congratulations on the family addition!

    If you have any training questions feel free to shoot me an email and I can forward it to my wife who does dog training. She works with rescue dogs a lot, including volunteering at one of the local shelters helping with the evaluation of the dogs. In addition, two of our dogs are rescue dogs and every couple of months we help foster rescue dogs on their way one direction or another. So she knows her stuff.

    I figure I get a lot of information out of the work you do here on the blog, and this is one way I (or my wife!) can give back a little.

  23. Jonathan, thanks for putting up her picture. She is indeed cute. I am a dog lover as well although I don’t have one. I always wished I had one.

    I’d like to take a moment to thank you for all articles that you published in this blog for the past year (since I started reading it) and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with more financial fun (TM) :).

  24. Adorable!

  25. Very cute picture and cool you got the pup! Great way to bring in the New Year!!! Congratz!


  26. Good for you and congratulations on the new family member. I don’t have a dog but my life’s been much happier since I got my two cats. Must go now – one of them is meowing, she wants me to play with her.

  27. Mad respect for saving a dog instead of just going to a breeder. Great for you man!

  28. congrats on the puppy! i hope that the transition to your house is a smooth one for the little puppy.

  29. CONGRATS my man – that is most wonderful news 🙂 I’ll have to image that dog’s face everytime i see your name now since i don’t know what you look like….haha…

  30. I have a tip for house-training a puppy-mill/pet-store dog. Use crate-training to teach them, but you have to understand that they are used to peeing in their crate. You have to find a small room to put them in where you can fit the dog, her crate, and a puppy pad or newspaper. That way the dog can come in and out of the crate to go do it’s business. Then you can slowly move into full crate training.

    My brother had a pet-store dog and he spent a lot of frustrating hours cleaning out the dog’s crate until he realized the tip I just gave.

  31. Congratulations on your new child 🙂 She is beautiful!

    I second the suggestion to feed high-quality food. My cats thrive on a raw food diet. It costs about the same as good canned food, takes little effort to prepare, and pays off with excellent health, clean teeth, and no vet visits.

    May you have many joyful years together!

  32. Please check out the work (book or tv show) of Cesar Millan (“The Dog Whisperer”). He’s really outstanding in his understandings of dog psychology and his ability to help people respond appropriately to their animals. One thing he mentions is how dogs live in the PRESENT. You can quickly deal with past issues, if you know how to respond appropriately, because dogs don’t hold grudges or otherwise live in the past. Your dog needs you to be confident, set the rules, boundaries, and limitations and be a calm-assertive “pack leader.” That will give HER the confidence to go about her life from here on, regardless of whatever puppy mill horrors she may have endured. But if you baby her and her “issues,” you will nurture those issues and keep her stuck. Please also see the other things Cesar stresses, like regular, structured daily walks.

    Best of luck! Anita

  33. Congratulations, she is gorgeous. I love cavvies, I have a soft spot for spaniels. Have fun with her and be patient, a lot of PM dogs take awhile to come out of their shell. I’m sure you’ll be a wonderful home for her.

  34. Nice puppy and a beautiful name too. We love dogs, and we know you’ll not regret taking Pumpkin in :). Merry Christmas.

  35. So adorable!

  36. Cute pup. I’m sure she will be quite a handful. I’m sure we will start seeing some posts on saving money for pet owners now?

  37. Congratulations on your adding Pumkin to your family. We added a labrador retriever rescue to our family a year ago – it’s been a great experience – I can’t imagine what our family would be without him. With the economy in such tough shape there are a growing number of animals in need. Best wishes and Merry Christmas!!

  38. Merry Christmas, Jonathan, and thanks for all the good advice you give us all year-round!

  39. And while I’m at it, here’s a free Greenies sample: http://www.greenies.com/en_US/FreeSample/

    I have a bunch of money-saving pet links for samples, coupons, perks, etc. Contact me if you’d like some.

  40. This is a response to the Anita with the Cesar comment. Sure the guy may be fun to watch, but can any of his theories be proven? For instance you see on his show how he visits families and changes the dog’s behavior, but I would say it is less then psychological.

    There are a lot of lazy pet owners out there, but if you look at Cesar you can quickly determine that the guy is in shape. How many miles a day does he run with the dogs?

    Hell you could apply the same method to kids with ADD. Have them run 3-5 miles a day and see how many of them act up? Same method I think Cesar applies to his teachings. Run the hell out of the dogs and then they become easier to train.

    Problem like I said is most pet owners are lazy to even give the dog the exercise it needs.

  41. Chris,

    Not to start a dog trainer war here (!), but my wife follows Cesar’s methods with the dog training that she does with ours and others’ dogs with very good results. Yes, tired dogs are easier to train but the majority of dogs can still be trained without it. Our three definitely don’t get out for daily walks, but are still trained to sit and wait for dinner and can be called by name one at a time to eat. You can drop human food in front of them and they will leave it alone unless given permission to eat it. Heck, one of them will even get my wife’s slippers for her – now THAT’s a lazy owner! :).

    It’s the alpha dog idea that plays more into his success than the exercise. And yes, many owners have trouble with that also. 🙂

  42. Awww!!! So cute!! You are so lucky!!! 🙂 I want a dog so bad, but can’t afford it (hence my being on this site!).

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