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We knew we wanted a dog. It’s been something that Super Dad and I have discussed for months, maybe even years. We knew we wanted to wait until the right time, but just like when you are contemplating having kids, is there really a “right time” to add to your family?  As soon as we moved to our new home, we both agreed that we had the space for a dog, maybe even two dogs. We had a list of everything we wanted, but at the top of the list was one thing that we weren’t willing to compromise on… the dog had to be a rescue.

Why We Chose a Rescue Dog

Well, the answer is simple. There are more than 6 million cats and dogs who enter U.S. animal shelters every single year.  Sure, you can buy one at a pet store, but pet stores sell animals for profit and most of those animals are bred in a breeding mill, as if they were products and not living, breathing creatures. They are shipped to the stores in cramped containers where they may arrive malnourished, sick, or injured. We refused to support that. It was never an option.

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We found a few local rescues and I researched each of them. Friends and family gave raving reviews about Big Dog Ranch Rescue, so that was our first stop. The day after Christmas, we surprised the girls and they couldn’t have been more excited.

Big Dog Ranch Rescue is the largest no-kill dog rescue in the Southeastern United States.  Their mission is to be a leader in the national animal welfare movement, through compassionate, innovative rescue practices and transformative educational programs. Their goal is to give the gift of life to as many dogs as humanly possible, enrich the lives of those who adopt them, and in doing so, help create a better world.

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Photo Courtesy of Big Dog Ranch Rescue

Arriving at the ranch, we were totally blown away. Their new 33-acre, cage-free campus is designed to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome.  Over the past 13 years, Big Dog Ranch Rescue has saved over 25,000 dogs. Impressive, to say the least.  We were given a quick run down and filled out an online application on the spot. We walked into the first building and I fell in love with a gorgeous brown dog named Skip. Skip checked all of the boxes on our list and he was absolutely gorgeous, with bright, light brown eyes. I was imagining our future almost immediately.

While we waited patiently for the staff to finish feeding Skip so that we could meet him, a small dog, in the same room, named Sheba, stole my daughters’ hearts. They couldn’t stop pointing at her and talking about how cute she was. I kept my focus on Skip, thinking that he was the perfect dog. He was the right gender, the right size, the right breed and the right age. But about 5 minutes into our meet and greet, we realized that Skip wasn’t the one for us. He was considered a flight risk, was so skittish and couldn’t stop shaking. He just didn’t warm up to us no matter what we tried and it didn’t feel right. We asked the girls if they wanted to meet another dog and all three unanimously begged to meet Sheba.

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Sheba is a Chinese Shar-Pei mix and although she was exactly the opposite of everything we thought we wanted, we quickly found out that she was the missing piece to our family puzzle. She was rescued from Puerto Rico in November with her 4 brothers and sisters (who we’d love to find). We must have spent about 20 minutes with her and when it was time to say goodbye, we knew we couldn’t leave her. Everyone that passed by, stopped to pet her. There was something about her that was so special, and everyone knew it. We knew it.

They say a dog chooses you and I would definitely agree. She bonded with all five of us and it just felt right. I must have asked the girls a handful of times if they were sure they didn’t want to meet other dogs before making a decision. After all, she was in the first building, first room and we didn’t check out any of the others. But all three girls agreed (which rarely happens). Before we knew it, we were filling out paperwork, paying the adoption fee and welcoming the newest addition to our family.

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Seeing her in the backseat with the girls completely melted my heart. Anyone that doesn’t believe in love at first sight, should have watched them on the way home. They went out of their way to make sure she was comfortable. They were protecting her. It was so sweet. When we got home, they couldn’t wait to show her around, introduce her to our neighbors and get her things all set up. They volunteered to take on different tasks, to make her transition smooth. Our youngest even cleaned up her room, in record time, to make sure there was nothing on the floor for the puppy to chew on.

They even agreed on a new name for her… Elle. 

Aside from the one nervous accident she had, minutes after we got home, she has not had one in the last week. She was given to us on a schedule and we kept her on that schedule. For a 6 month old puppy, she’s been absolutely amazing. It’s like bringing home a newborn who is potty trained, can walk and talk and feed itself.

We are planning to take her to puppy classes. We want her to learn how to be around other dogs. We have taught her to “sit”, but have so many other things we want her to learn. She’s so protective and sits at our feet at every opportunity. She loves to run and take walks. She’s such a love bug!

We can’t wait to share our experience with our new rescue dog. We hope that if you are considering getting a pet, that you go to a rescue as well. Do you have any pets? Comment below! We’d love to hear about them!

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When we decided to get a dog, we had a list of what we wanted. At the top of the list was one thing that we weren't willing to compromise on... the dog had to be a rescue.