Woman Sets Out to Adopt One Rescue Dog, Ends Up with a Much Shyer Pup Who ‘Rescues’ Her

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The following story was submitted to the From Woofs to Wonders Photo and Story contest. The top three finishers received a $250 Animal Rescue Site store shopping spree, as well as $2,000 in cash and supplies for their favorite shelter. To read more stories, click here!

When I moved back east, I knew I was ready for a dog, and I also knew I wanted a Shepherd. I loved the bigger dogs and the intelligent ones that flourish with some training and effort. Encouraged to adopt, I applied and was approved to adopt with Shenandoah Shepherd Rescue.

I told them I wanted what is affectionately known as a “Pocket Shepherd”, aka the breed mixed with something smaller so that in an emergency, I could pick up the dog. And I found her. My amazing caseworker reached out because she was fostering two Pocket Shepherds: a beautiful almost all white female that was only 25 pounds when they found her and her “brother”, who was 30 pounds with more traditional Shepherd coloring. Moxie and Maddox.

PHOTO: JENNA DEMARCO

Moxie sounded perfect, and that day, I was in my car heading up to meet her. When I arrived, I got out and saw her. She was gorgeous but so thin. A polite girl, she came and said hi and then promptly began to run laps outside. Not exactly the moment I was looking for. Then Maddox came over, more timid than his sister. He gave my hand a kiss, promptly sat on my feet and leaned his not very considerable body weight into me. He relaxed entirely into the moment, and my caseworker and I knew that I had found my baby boy.

Fast forward to bringing him home. I knew he was timid, but I was not aware just how nervous he was. We avoided people for a bit, allowing him time to decompress and learn about his new home. On a hike one day that we had done before and had never seen people on, just our luck, an entire men’s group walked by. Maddox panicked, he was looking for an escape, pulling on his line, and the only thing I could think to do was pull him into my arms and lap and hold him. The men filed by complimenting how cute he was, and Maddox proceeded to pee all over both of us.
Not unique to men, a similar exchange happened when the local high school cross country team ran by us. Pure panic, cuddles, and a pee bath for us both. I knew I needed some help to get him to grow in confidence and called a trainer. We began meeting for weekly sessions, and with the help of our trainer with us BOTH, Maddox’s confidence started to grow. He started to recognize that I was the alpha and would keep him safe. Excursions to Tractor Supply and our local pet store became fun with him shyly giving kisses to the workers and always walking out with a new toy.

PHOTO: JENNA DEMARCO

An instant hit with my family and always so good in the car, Maddox started to grow his world through travel. Never would have thought a dog rescued off the streets of Texas would love to hike the Appalachian Mountains, but the woods, always my happy place, became his, too. I set a goal for us of hiking in four different states our first year; we ended up in six.

Windows down, head out, Maddox always wanted to be with me wherever I went – so I brought him. He visited horse country and joined my friends and family at a rented cabin on the lake for my birthday, where he took his first cold water swim and loved it. He took a moment to warm up but then charmed everyone around him and loved any opportunity to give love and lean on people.

PHOTO: JENNA DEMARCO

Now having been my best friend and travel buddy for over a year, Maddox comes with me to do home visits for the rescue that saved both of us. His confidence has grown, and he helps show the families we visit just how much love a rescue pup has to give. I got a photo shoot done for his first adoptiversary, and our fantastic photographers nicknamed him “Ken” because he was sweet and a little goofy.

We have now bought a house (he came to all the appointments and we picked his favorite), and he has settled into a confident man who protects our home from all chipmunks, squirrels, or deer who think that they can come by. We still work on practicing our confidence and experiencing new things, and he always takes it in stride and with a little lean on Mom. He is light years from the boy I brought home and our pee baths. I always thought that the whole “our rescue dog rescued us” thing was just a saying people said, but I was wrong. He is truly the light of my life and I always say that bringing him home was the best decision I have ever made.

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