Theodore (aka “Buddy”, for reasons neither my fiancée nor I can explain) is my biggest, and most lovable Foster Failure. Yup, you read that right, I first fostered Theodore after he had spent about a year at Adopt-A-Pet with absolutely 0 interest from potential adopters. During my time volunteering for Adopt-A-Pet I was known for fostering either entire litters of kittens/puppies or the undesirables. Theodore fit my niche and when I had an opening, I took his sad self home.
Let’s jump back to the beginning of his story. Theodore and his siblings (you guessed it, Alvin and Eleanor) were brought to AAP a few years back when they were young puppies (maybe 3-4 months old?). The man that brought them in found Eleanor and Alvin running around their countryside home and took them straight in to the shelter. A few days later, the same good samaritan arrived again, this time carrying one last pup (my Theodore).
After a few weeks in quarantine as all new intakes went through, it was time for Theodore to be neutered, but to our veterinarian’s surprise, his jaw was clamped shut. He wasn’t doing this consciously because he was already sedated for surgery, his jaw was broken. Turns out his jaw was most likely broken due to a cow kicking him out in the country where he survived for at minimum a few days. Because it was not caught in time, there’s virtually nothing that can be done without putting him at great risk. The fact of the matter is, Theodore can eat (by shoving the bits of foot into his mouth using the floor of the bowl), drink (but he makes a huge mess!), and he can bark too so we figure, why mess with a good thing? We’ve had X-Rays performed and several vets take a look, but what it boils down to is, if he’s ok as-is and does not seem to be in pain, there’s no sense in risking what’s working just fine.
Cut to about a year later, Theodore is just over 1 year old, having spent a majority of his life at the No-Kill Shelter. He’s never been adopted, he’s never been fostered, in fact, I can’t recall a single time any potential adopters truly looked at him. He’s primarily black so if you’re familiar with “black dog syndrome” as rescuers call it, this may not seem all too surprising that he was overlooked so often.
He grew up with us at the shelter, he knew all of our routines (even the squirt bottle for SHHHH), and he certainly knew how to be a good shelter dog, but that does not usually translate to a good house dog. After my 2 foster puppies, Squash and Sweet Potato (yes, we like theme names, get over it) were adopted, it was time to find another foster to dote on. Around this time Theodore caught my eye really for the first time TRULY caught my eye. He was sitting in the back of his kennel, just chilling, not making any noise and certainly not seeking my attention. So I took him home for a “weekend rental” and after that he never truly lived at the shelter ever again. I “fostered” Theodore for about a year, taking him home at night and leaving him at the shelter during the day so that he could meet potential adopters. But not a single person looked at him, even on the days that I was working and practically writing on my forehead “THEODORE IS THE BEST DOG EVER, ADOPT HIM”. Maybe it was his broken jaw, maybe it was his dark color, or maybe it was due to his personality that was more “shelter dog” than it was “companion” or “friend”.
In January of 2012 my fiancee (Anthony) and I made the move to Dallas, and just before that time I had a decision to make: Would Theodore be left with my parents to foster him (he didn’t and still doesn’t care much for my Dad), would he be returned to the shelter, or would he come with me as my permanent pet? I remember a discussion Anthony, my Dad, and I had at the kitchen bar in December 2011. My Dad had asked about the pet deposit on the apartment (mind you, Anthony has 2 dogs, and I had at least 1 cat already)… I have no reasoning for this… but I busted out into tears. To this day Anthony makes fun of me every time because he thinks this was a last-ditch-effort to get my Dad on our side to endorse our wishes to bring Theodore along, but honestly, it came out of panic. I didn’t want to leave Theodore and I didn’t want him to be alone ever again. Well, turns out my Dad has a soft spot for young women that just burst out into tears uncontrollably. Needless to say he offered to pay the entire pet deposit and anything else needed to get Theodore to come with us.
As I’m writing this, Theodore is sitting right nearby. He’s quietly licking his leg and resting on his blanket next to my desk in his “corner” of the room (he likes to be in smaller closed-in areas, presumably because he spent so much time in a kennel at the shelter). He’s still not one that likes to go for walks, or can spend a lot of time outside in the heat (he cant pant like most dogs can), but he’s my Theodorable (his nickname for when he’s a good boy) or in some cases Theohorrible (when he’s a bad boy). Over the last few months he’s also been nicknamed Buddy by Anthony & I and we have absolutely no clue why, so don’t ask. All we know is that he is happy, healthy, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. To be honest, he’s the best behaved dog of all 3 of ours, he never has accidents in the house, rarely barks, and knows when to get off our bed so that we can go to sleep (he’s a little too big to sleep on my pillow like Splotchy does). So moral of the story: adopt the diamond in the “ruff”, they make great companions and they’ll cherish you as much as you cherish them.