A growing family

Published 03, Mar, 2015

Awww! Meet Chuck. Our David Phillips on how a new pet changes everything

A growing family

On the evening of February 11 at the start of a snowstorm, my husband and I welcomed into our home Chuck, a 6 year old boy from central Virginia who had been in the care of a foster family nearby.

Before Craig and I married, even before we were engaged, we had talked many times about enlarging our family; and the time had seemed right for a while. We had met with several local organizations about adoption since late November, and we had finally come upon one group as eager to work with us as we were with them. They were so confident that Chuck was meant for us that they had called us to arrange our initial meeting with him that quickly led to the adoption. 

For the record, Chuck is an American English coonhound, not a human child. At 60 pounds and standing over two feet tall, he bigger than all of the dogs we had previously considered; and he’s can be very active and rambunctious, despite his preference for being sprawled out or curled up on his bed in his spacious crate. He knows Sit, Stay, and Down; and he whimpers at the patio door or the front door when he needs to relieve himself.

Chuck wants to meet every dog or person he sees, but he’s easily distracted by the look or scent of food or treats. His foster mom referred to him as “very food-motivated,” while I think of the rest of him as a life support system for his stomach. 

Chuck also enjoys his walks. Craig likes to keep them to one or two potty stops for Chuck, while I like to go for a mile. Chuck never complains as long as he feels connected to his person on the walk. When the walk is over, and we’re settling in at home, Chuck likes to raise himself up with his feet on our laps to beg for rubbing and cuddling. He also thinks he’s a lap dog, and he’s just not so big or so intrusive that we find it a problem. 

We have Chuck sleeping on the comfortable bed his foster mom provided in a spacious wire crate which we acquired and placed in our bedroom. Still, his favorite place of repose is our bed. The morning after we brought Chuck home, I turned my back on him for a minute, and he was found lying across the comforter folded over my side of the bed. That evening he found that Craig’s pile of pillows is even better to curl up against. If one of us is in bed alone and Chuck isn’t in his crate, he will lie lengthwise in the middle of bed. He clearly understands that we are his pack now. 

Chuck is also a reminder of the pets which friends struggling with advanced HIV and other diseases were unable to keep. He was picked up as a socialized stray in a rural area where he had almost certainly been raised and bred for hunting. Given his preference for relaxation, he probably wasn’t that good at hunting, though. A rescue group pulled him from the local shelter and saw to his neutering, vaccinations, and general health.

Over a year ago he had been adopted by a family, but he was returned to the rescue group in November after nipping at the family’s 11 year old child described as “having an impulse control disorder.” However, neither anyone with the rescue group, nor us has seen any aggressive behavior from him since. 

If you’re thinking of adding a canine to your family, I can’t recommend highly enough choosing an older dog from a rescue group that takes the time to understand a dog’s temperament and the home you can offer.