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  • Writer's pictureElana

mutual rescue

Last April we made a decision that changed our lives. It turned out to be the first of several big changes... I had been looking at puppies for a while, just because they're so cute and one day I wanted to have one. But we weren't ready. We were enjoying our D.I.N.K (dual income no kids) lifestyle and a puppy would surely throw everything way off and burden us so much responsibility.

And then one day, I found a post online for a dog named "Xena" who had been rescued from Puerto Rico. "Xena" had been found tied up to the side of a house, completely neglected with no food or water, her hair all matted and dirty, starving to death and crying. She was so skinny and scraggly and looked kind of like a rat with her hair all shaved off, but had the cutest little face. So I sent the link to my mom with the caption "Am I cute??" Only minutes later she replied telling me that she was so cute. Less than one minute later I received another email emphasizing that this poor little puppy needed a good home and it would be such a mitzvah and she would repay us with so much love and appreciation. That night on the way home from work, I brought it up with Navin. He was not thrilled with the idea, or the fact that I now had my mom as an ally in my cause. He agreed to set up an appointment to go meet her and see what her disposition was like. And we agreed that we would definitely not call her Xena if she turned out to be a nice dog and we decided to adopt her. The next morning, while we were brushing our teeth side by side, he paused and said "I think we should name her Mitzi. Like mitzvah." And at that moment I knew that we were ready...

When we went to go meet Mitzi, it was a really sad sight. They had several Puerto Rican rescue dogs there for show and some of them were so damaged they would shake as soon as I walked toward them. Some of them were a bit aggressive, some of them were yappy. Mitzi was hilarious. She was in a fenced in area with another small dog and as soon as we walked up to her, she just popped up on her hind legs, tail wagging and a smile on her little puppy face. Well that's it. I was done for. After having some cuddles and winning the rescue agency over vs. another lady, we put down our deposit and made the arrangements. I couldn't have been happier, as you can see:

And I wasn't exaggerating about the skinniness or scraggliness. These were taken the very next week, on the first day we brought her home:

After a few weeks of stress through nighttime whimpers and house training, we all started to adjust to our new family. It didn't take long for us to find out that Mitzi was a really smart dog that needed a lot of stimulation. Her second day at home, I left the house to go to a book club meeting and she managed to jump over her fence to run through the house looking for me. We bought lots of stimulating toys and signed her up for puppy school immediately. And since that point, she has grown to a healthy, full size, grown a super-soft coat of hair, and become extremely well behaved and trained, not only in obedience but in tricks too - she can even do patty cake!

Some might think it was really strange timing to get a dog only a few weeks before having major surgery. Part of me even thought it was crazy.

But she needed a home, and truthfully it couldn't have turned out any better. My mom came to take care of me for a couple of weeks after the surgery and she was able to take care of Mitzi (and fall in love with her) too. And Mitzi wouldn't leave my side while I was recovering. My very own little therapy dog.

She is so happy now. She's gotten over her fear of stairs, and no longer flinches at anything that moves, she's gained confidence and while she's still disturbed by flies, she no longer quivers or hides under the bed when she sees one.

She has had some great adventures with us.

She's been on a ferry and my parents' sailboat. She's hiked through the Olympic rainforest and walking along the washington coast. She's celebrated her first birthday, her first halloween and my 30th birthday.

She makes me so happy. It is impossible to unhappy with her around. Every morning I wake up to a cute little face and waggly tail that couldn't be more excited to see me and just wants to cuddle or play. I thought that what was making me so happy was being so unconditionally loved and needed by someone else. But it was pointed out to me that when I'm with her, I'm also in the presence of my own love, and that is the best feeling of all. I thought we were rescuing her, but she rescued me too.

When we were at the store not too long ago, a lady came up to me and said "you have a really cute dog, she looks like she's ready for an adventure."

She really is. And so am I.

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