You do your research. You follow your intuition and trust your instincts. You think you know what to expect. You’re prepared for this! You’ve been searching and looking for years (in our case, we wanted to wait to adopt until we owned a house with a yard). Then you see him/her – the one!
When You Know, You Know:
We had just moved into our house beginning of May 2019, and said “we’ll wait until after summer to adopt, give ourselves the summer to settle in…” The joke was on us – that lasted about 3 weeks. We saw Bean’s photo on FKD’s Instagram and fell instantly in love with him despite not knowing anything about him except for the fact that he was meant for us. His profile wasn’t available yet so I messaged through social media and was obsessively refreshing the website for his profile to pop up. There was just something about him, his sweet face and gentle soul. It seemed like ages, but his profile finally popped up and we applied immediately. The rest was a crazy whirlwind!
Preparing For Arrival:
He was flying in 2 days from then! We had our phone interview and house visit and were approved the night before he was flying to Toronto. I remember our emotions so clearly; so excited, nervous, hopeful. I can still feel the butterflies we felt while waiting at the airport for him to come through those doors.
I have had animals my whole life. I am very intuitive and all animals have always naturally gravitated towards me. We currently have 2 rescue cats, but Bean was our first rescue dog. I thought I knew what to expect, understanding that everything will be new to him – a new language, house, cats, yard, etc. We read all the FKD blogs, materials, did our research, and thought we knew what it meant to rescue and how everything would unfold. I felt entitled because of how animals naturally loved me, and thought it would be “easier” for us. In hindsight, I was a little naïve and felt entitled because of the relationship I’ve always had with animals.
Since Bean was born to a mother dog rescued from the Dangjin meat farm, I figured it would be a smoother transition because he was still a puppy and did not experience any abuse. With that being said, I couldn’t imagine our path in any other way than it has unfolded (and is still unfolding). We would do anything and everything to make sure Bean has the best life possible.
The first three months of having Bean in our family were the most challenging and most rewarding months of our lives. We are still hitting milestones and discovering new experiences we melt over. To this day, the emotions we feel watching this sweet soul learn to trust you, or experience something new – fills our hearts so full. We didn’t even know we could experience that level of love.
The first few weeks went something like this:
Bean would not come out of his crate; he felt safest inside it, which was totally fine with us. He would only come out to go to the bathroom when we weren’t in the room, but would Chewbacca cry if it took us too long to come back. You could tell from the get-go that he wanted to trust us and wanted our love but did not know how to go about it. He waged his tail like crazy and wanted us in the room with him, but was not ready for all the physical love we wanted to give him.
I feel like we had the most progress within this time frame. We spent all our time in the spare bedroom, laying on the floor next to him and offering treats. Bean would wag his tail like crazy when we approached but would still glue himself to the crate, only peeking out to take treats (Woohoo! Progress!). He showed no interest in the dog bed we placed beside his crate at first. One night we turned around to see he had come out of the crate to lay on it. We were ecstatic. We took the top off his crate a day after that, and completely removed it from the room about 2 days following.
Every day felt like he was progressing in leaps and bounds. He was comfortable enough to roam the whole house. The best (but most difficult thing) we did was ignore him completely, no eye contact. He’d come right up to us, sniff us, and stay close by us. It gave him time to get used to being in close proximity to us, while respecting his boundaries. We worked on building his courage up so he could go to the bathroom outside, carrying him in and out. He’d eventually follow us out but wouldn’t come in if he could see us, so we had to hide around the corner. Eventually, he’d run in and out right past us with no problem. At the end of this time frame he went on his first walk. We slowly got him used to the harness, and eventually carried him outside. At first, he was completely terrified, laying on the ground refusing to move, so we just stayed with him letting him know it was alright and carried him back in. After getting used to the front yard, he’d sit and watch everything going on. Maybe a week of that, he just started walking. Andrew and I stared at each other – eyes and mouths wide open thinking “is this really happening”?!
Bean has been our fur babe for 7 months now. He and his brother, Jackson, play all the time while his diva sister makes sure he keeps his distance. It is a fun dynamic.
She is the boss of all of us. Bean plays with us like crazy, has finally started playing with toys (he likes soft stuffies that he can rip apart), doesn’t fully understand fetch (but he’s getting there), loves every single dog he meets, loves his walks (and being outside in general), loves affection from Andrew and I (but is still very skittish if we move too quickly), will take treats from everyone (but will not allow anyone else to approach or touch him – he’ll get there in his own time), doesn’t love cuddling (but will allow it for a little while) and is crazy about the snow – a true Canadian Eh!
Lessons From Bean:
Bean taught us boundaries. He is the cutest dog ever (in our opinion) who everyone wants to pet, so we learned how to say “no” very early on. He taught us we needed to explain to others how to act or behave around him, even our closest family and friends. He taught us to stay true to those boundaries to protect him and help him feel comfortable around strangers. Bean has taught us patience and to be creative in ways we never thought possible. He brought us so much closer together and completed our family. For now he needs a doggie brother or sister soon.
It really is a delicate dance of letting them do things at their own pace, but being a loving and supportive force behind them. He has filled our hearts and home with so much love, and taught us so many valuable lessons. It is really hard to put into words all the wonderful emotions you feel when loving a rescue. Seeing him run into the lake for the first time up north at our cottage, watching the switch in his brain go from “this is scary” to “this is the most fun I’ve ever had” fills your heart so full that it could explode. Watching him become more and more confident in himself and in you feels over and over again like the biggest accomplishment you’ve ever had.
What We Can All Learn From Bean:
Adoption is the best thing we’ve chosen to do as a family, and if there are any tips we can offer from our experiences, it is this:
- Adoption is a big step and is not to be taken lightly. It will be the best, most challenging, but most rewarding and fulfilling thing you will ever do.
- Don’t set expectations. Keep your mind and heart open to the process. Each dog is different, heals differently and at a different pace. They all have their own path. Be creative and dynamic, and ready for every situation.
- Patience and lots and lots of love are paramount in helping your new baby adjust and blossom.
- Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine everything from their perspective. Really try to understand life through their lens.
- Most importantly, be ready to feel the happiest you’ve ever felt knowing you have changed this dog’s entire world for the best and he has changed yours even more. Be ready for the abundance of love you will feel and continue to feel as they slowly (but surely) come into their own and learn to love and trust you.
He is our baby and we are so grateful to FKD for the amazing, difficult, heartbreaking work they do to save as many dogs as they can from terrible situations. If you are considering adding a new family member, please consider adoption. It will be the best thing you ever do. We promise!
Written by Erika Pederson