Close Your Eyes, Open Your Heart – How Do you Adopt Again After Your Dog Dies?

How Do you Adopt Again After Your Dog Dies?

This post will explain the grief and anguish people go through after they have lost their beloved dog and how hard they try to replace their dog that has passed away with an identical copy.  “How can I adopt after my dog dies?”

There is a puppy mill that advertises they will create a special order Border Collie just for you.  All you have to do is tell them what you want.  The manner in which they can produce an identical replica of your deceased dog is frightening.  For example, you can go so far as to request a red merle female with one brown eye and one marble eye – and they will produce it.  So what happens when you purchase a dog that looks identical to your dog that has passed way – will they be identical?  I say no – it’s impossible.

Finding the Perfect Dog After Your Dog Passed Away

At least 50% of the emails we receive to adopt are from people who have recently lost their dog.  The other 50% are from either people who want a second or third dog, or people who are ready to adopt their first dog.  Many times, people who are grieving the loss of their dog are looking to adopt one exactly like the dog they lost.  Maybe it’s a red merle Aussie female, or a classic black and white Border Collie.  Throughout our interview process, I gather information about their home environment, their experience, the dogs they have had in the past, and I focus on recommending a dog that has the right temperament for them.

Most of the time, adopters are wanting to adopt a dog they see in a photo.  The problem with that is that they are completely overlooking the dog’s temperament.  Many times, I am forced to recommend a dog that they did not notice, a dog that they did not look at, a dog that they are not interested in because… it doesn’t look like their dog that passed away.

I totally understand this, because I did it too!

How I found my first Border Collie

In 1981, while living in Houston, a friend of mine found an abandoned litter of puppies under a shed at the Herman Park Medical Center’s rose garden.  I took as many puppies as I could, found them good homes, and kept one, that I named Troubles.

Troubles 1983

Troubles 1983

I didn’t know what breed she was, until I asked a friend, who without hesitation, said, “border collie”.  I didn’t know what a Border Collie was at the time.  I had Troubles until 1994, and she was amazing dog.  Her focus was on me, and only me.  She never took her eyes off of me, and did everything I asked.  She was incredibly trained, yet she had no training.

When Troubles died, I was a complete mess.  Back then, there was no email, no internet, no cell phones.  I faxed flyers to local humane societies asking them to help me find a dog just like her.  My faxes went unanswered.

I visited a local Border Collie rescue, and met dozens of border collies, all of them unhealthy, and unbelievably hyper to the point that they were insane hyper.  I looked around at other border collies on the property that appeared to have great health and great temperaments, and asked if I could adopt one of them.  The answer was, “no, that one is mine.”  After pointing dogs that was I interested in, I learned that they were all owned by the rescue.  How many dogs can one person possibly own?  I left without a dog, and going home to an empty house was brutal.

After a few more days had passed, my grief did not subside one bit.  I even asked to take on projects at work that would cause me to work overtime.  I wanted to avoid going home.

After seeing my despair, my then husband took it up on himself to look in the local paper, and there it was!  An ad for Border Collie puppies.  He called them, and there was one female left.  She was expensive, $450.  We didn’t have that much money, but somehow we would manage our bills, and go without a few things for a while!

Can I Replace My Dog That Just Passed Away?

When I arrived I had the luxury of meeting the puppies parents, and the female mommy was a real love.  I went to their back porch and met the baby female.  There she was hiding under a chair.  She was gorgeous.  We brought her home and we named her Reckless.

Reckless quickly became my third heart dog.  First was my Collie, Nelson when I was just a kid, my Troubles, and now Reckless.

I want to Clone My Dog

Reckless, 2002

Reckless, 2002

Much to my surprise, Reckless was nothing like Troubles.  So even though my goal was to replace Troubles, and I did get another Border Collie – the two were as opposite as day and night.  Troubles was anti-social and a one-person dog, Reckless loved the world, and wanted to visit people!  Many times Reckless was sneak off and visit a neighbor and just hang out.  Neighbors would knock on my door and ask if they could take Reckless on their walk.  Reckless was a social butterfly.

Let me explain it this way.  You may have a family of four children, and they even look alike, but one is a Saint, one is a Trouble-Maker, one may be a Scholar, and one may be a Drop-Out!  Dogs may be similar, but even siblings are different.  We see it all the time when we rescue a litter!

Reckless died in 2009, and for the next few months I knew that I was incredibly lucky and grateful to  have had three heart dogs in my life.  I figured – this is it, I can’t possibly be blessed again.

Ozzie, Adopted 2009

Ozzie, Adopted 2009

Ozzie was owner-surrendered, and while he is a purebred Border Collie, and a very good boy, he’s not my heart dog.  Many other dogs found their way into my home, and The Dog Liberator was born.  Finding great homes for great dogs was easy for me, and even though many of them reminded me of Nelson, Troubles, and Reckless – I did not keep!  Why would I keep a dog for myself and rob a family of having the experience that I  had.  I came so close to keeping great dogs like Trixie Belle, Tim Tebow, and Jake.  The temptation was unbearable, especially when I had two young kids constantly asking me, “can we keep them?”  Oy vey!

Several months had passed, and I rescued Lady Di and Goldie Hawn.  I expected to keep Goldie, but she passed away.  I eventually kept Lady Di, and she is amazing.  I really thought that she would be as close as I could get to having a fourth heart dog, but I was wrong.

Princess Lady Di, Adopted 2009

Princess Lady Di, Adopted 2009

I didn’t keep Ozzie and Lady Di technically for myself or my family, I kept them because they created a fantastic pack environment.  Ozzie is the walmart greeter, and Lady Di is the sheriff!

China, Adopted 2010

China, Adopted 2010

Months later, we rescued China, and against my will, we kept her as well.  The bond between China and my daughter was too great to break.  China fit into the pack taking on the roll as the cautious player.  China had another purpose to serve.  Her job is to be the Deaf/Blind icon of our rescue.  She has served her role very well, because of her work at representing deaf and blind dogs, we have been able to rescue and adopt dozens of dogs like her.  She has been the reason for Deaf Dogs Hear with Their Hearts, and The Chosen Ones.

These three gorgeous dogs have been helping me rehabilitate and resocialize rescued dogs for almost five years now, and they do a fantastic job.  I couldn’t rescue without them, for it takes years for a human to teach a dog what another dog can teach them  in five minutes.

Your Dog Can’t Be Replaced

The TDL Pack

The TDL Pack

This past January, I received a phone call from Lily’s Dad, Dusty.   Dusty’s friend had to surrender her 2 year-old Chihuahua.  Seriously?  What am I going to do with a Chihuahua – one of the breeds I dislike the most.  Dusty begged, and I had no choice but to say yes.  When that little red cutie pie entered my home and sat in my lap I knew I was in trouble.  She won me over in less than five minutes, her name was Athena, but we named her Rosie.

Later, when I picked up my children from school, they both screamed, “can we keep her?” Thank God they felt the same way I did.  It has been four years since I have said yes to the word Keep!  Rosie doesn’t really have a job here with our rescue, other than to represent her breed, which unfortunately is probably one of the most homeless and desperate breeds there are right now in our country.

Finding Your Next Dog Might Be Easier Than You Think

No one can resist Rosie!

No one can resist Rosie!

In 2007 only 800 Chihuahuas were homeless on Petfinder.  Today there are over 18,000 homeless Chihuahuas.  If there ever was a breed that people should be trying to adopt, it’s the Chihuahua.  That’s not the only reason why I was so excited to keep her.  Ozzie is now 7 years-old, Lady Di is estimated to be about 6 years-old.  We believe China is approximately five years-old.  Their life-span is estimated to be approximately 13.  Combine that with I’m getting older too (yes, I sing Stevie Nick’s Landslide often).  My hopes are that as I am forced to say goodbye to each of these amazing dogs, I’ll have my Rosie to console me.

Rosie has been part of our pack now for 7 months now, and she is my new Heart Dog!  She barks when she hears even the slightest noise, she steals toys and bones from every dog every chance she gets.

Rosie, we can take her everywhere!

Rosie, we can take her everywhere!

She serves absolutely no purpose here except to make us laugh and give us unconditional love.  She will rub her little face on yours and make funny grunting noises expressing her deep love for us.  She’ll sleep with anyone, anywhere if you let her.  She is the most wonderful dog I have ever known… and she is a Chihuahua!

My decision to keep her did not go without ridicule and sarcasm.  People who know me took advantage of embarrassing me with comments like, “excuse me but that doesn’t look at all like a Border Collie.”  I took the sarcasm with grace, and watched how each and every one of my friends couldn’t help but hold her… knowing that they wanted one too!

Dianna's ChiChi, adopted 2014

Dianna’s ChiChi, adopted 2014

Recently, former adopter, Dianna Noreen found her own Rosie, and named him Chi Chi – now that’s one lucky dog, and one less Chihuahua on death row.

While I’ve had nothing but collies all of my life, Rosie taught me a valuable lesson.  Close your eyes, and open your heart.  You never know what dog will bring you the joy you’ve been missing.

Saying Goodbye To Your Dog is Never Easy

Update:  Just as I finish writing this, I received a text message from our Brittney, that Laddie passed away this morning.  For those of you who attended our reunion last year, you’ll remember laddie, a big gorgeous Collie that was surrendered to us.

Laddie, RIP

Laddie, RIP

It wasn’t until after Brittney decided to keep him, she learned from her vet that he had a stage 3 heart murmur.  Laddie died in his sleep.  He enjoyed the company of Brittney’s family, adored her young son, and enjoyed playing with this new pack.  He died knowing love, family, and companionship.  Ironically, the first thing Brittney’s sun asked her is, “can you find us another one?”  Unfortunately, the answer is no.  Every dog is unique, as unique as each of us are.



Whole Lotta Rosie

Do Chihuahua's help Asthma?

Do Chihuahua’s help Asthma?

Almost one year ago I wrote a post prompted by Brittney Myers about Asthma and Chihuahua’s.  Several months later, The Dog Liberator had selected a few Chi’s to rescue, but they were adopted from the shelter in Lake City.  My son Ryan was very excited, only to be told it was not going to happen.  Ryan has suffered from allergy-related asthma all of his life, he takes several medications, and gets allergy shots regularly.

Last week, Dusty (Lilly’s Dad) asked if I could help a friend who was surrendering her Chihuahua.  Based on the dog’s temperament and photo, I thought she was highly adoptable.  The two year-old was delivered to me last Sunday, January 5th, but I never dreamed that I would fall in love with her immediately!  Her name was Athena, and we tossed around some name ideas, and settled with Rosie even though she has a million nicknames already.

In an attempt to conduct our own experiment, Rosie has been sleeping with Ryan every night.  However, last night, she slept with me.  This morning Ryan awoke sneezing, coughing and wheezing.  Coincidence?  Maybe!

Like I did one year ago, I researched the myth that Chihuahua’s help children with Asthma again.  Here’s what I found!

Written by Mike Reed

My Musical Lungs

Integrity Pets


While I currently do not believe that any dog can “take asthma away” I wonder if the Chi is so small that it actually delivers the allergen to a person who is allergic, much like the shots that Ryan is receiving contains the actual items he is allergic to.  Getting small dosages of what hurts him is helping him build his own immunity.

If any person is allergic to dogs, the last thing they would want is a 120 pound dog sitting on top of them!  But a tiny little Chi might be delivering just enough of the allergen to help the patient.

I also believe that any dog, even a tiny Chi can help a person relax and feel comforted.  So even if it’s psychosomatic, who cares if it works!  Remember, I am the person who bought Claire Bear chicken feet!  I’ll try anything!

When I researched the epidemic of homeless dogs last month, I found that in 2007 only a few hundred Chihuahuas were homeless on Petfinder, yet in 2013 there were over 18,000 homeless Chi’s listed on Petfinder.  This mess was created in party by the popular Beverly Hills Chihuahua and greedy breeders.  If we can safely say that some people truly believe for reasons we can not yet prove that Chi’s help people with Asthma, it’s a win win!

But here’s what I really want to share about Rosie.  She is housebroken, she does not bark at strangers, she is  not afraid, she is not neurotic, she does not bite, she is very friendly, she is crate trained, she is sleeps in her bed during the day, she eats very little, she does not require much grooming, my pack has accepted her, and she is very polite with the pack, she is cuddly and gives kisses.  When given the right environment, training and leadership, all Chihuahuas can be like Rosie.

For now, she will stay with us but if for any reason we do not feel she is a match for us, I have no doubt that she will be fought over!  In the meantime, anyone wanting to start up a Chihuahua rescue, I’m all ears!

Mary w/ Newman Vets and Rosie!

Mary w/ Newman Vets and Rosie!

01/14/14 Update:  Rosie went to the vet yesterday.  She needed all of her shots, and her micro-chip.  We forgot to heartworm test her (I know it’s negative) so we’ll do that tomorrow.  But, she needed FIVE teeth pulled.  FIVE teeth in that tiny little head of hers!  Ah Chihuahua – that must have hurt!  Still groggy and in some pain, she slept with me last night.  I gave her the pain meds, and listened to her breathing.  Every once and a while, she’d let out a tiny groan – poor thing!

What’s wild is that this morning, Ryan needed his inhaler!  He was coughing and wheezing, remember, I slept with Rosie.  When I arrived at this vet this morning, Katrina mentioned that one of her family members always had a Chi because of Asthma – and she insists that it’s not a wive’s tale!  Time will tell eh?  Rosie is doing great today!  I’m scouting for dog clothes for her, to help her through the cold days that are on their way here.


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