Why someone ought to adopt MacKenzie

By Audrey Lodato, Executive Director

 10858385_1038858366129644_3890238734641233742_n-1Meet MacKenzie. She’s 10, and she’s living in my office. She’s actually next to me right now. Her tiny bed is pulled as close to my feet as I can possibly get it, and she’s asleep. She’s even snoring a little. When I started here two months ago, MacKenzie was the dog that barked and growled at me when I opened the door to the grooming room, where she was living. I learned some things about her right off the bat from the staff. I knew that she was grouchy. That she bit. That she hated it if people took the leash off her. Or put it on her. Or touched her. Or tried to pick her up. I knew that she was difficult.  That she’d been adopted and returned a few times. That no one could seem to find her a home. That she got her two walks a day, but that it was a big challenge to even get her outside some days.

So, I’m the Executive Director. And I’m supposed to problem solve. And MacKenzie was, to put it lightly, a problem. A difficult dog is a tough thing. The thing about them is they take up space. A dog has to live someplace, and when a dog can’t get adopted the place they live is the place where another adoptable dog could live while waiting for a new home. And then another. And then another.  You get the idea. So a difficult to adopt dog means that some other dogs aren’t getting saved because we don’t have a place to put them. Now, we don’t have a million dollars. (Do you? You can donate it HERE)  We don’t have the option to build a big huge kennel to house all the difficult dogs we encounter – and we don’t want dogs living in kennels for the rest of their lives anyway. It’s stressful for them. The option we have is to place these dogs in an appropriate home, and free up the space. So that was my problem.

Here’s a quite disagreeable little 10 year old shih tzu that I couldn’t even touch, and I need to find her a home where she would be loved for the rest of her life. Cute, right?

10348357_1038938332788314_1764372462503346100_nI figured at first I had to get to know her a little.  So on a Sunday when it was quiet, I lured her out of her kennel and into my office with some treats, and I shut the door. There’s a big crate in my office that’s set up all the time, and MacKenzie ran into the crate, all the way to the back, and growled and barked at me for two HOURS before she settled down. When she quieted down I put some kibble in there for her. And the first thing I learned was that MacKenzie REALLY likes treats. No matter how many kibbles I gave her, she would always want more. So OK, check. MacKenzie likes to eat. She growls if you come near her food, though. So, check. Resource guarding.

A few hours later she came out of her crate, and so I tried to put a leash on her. And she tried to bite me. So I waited until she calmed down, and I gave her some more kibble, and then I tried again…and I got the leash on her. Barely, but I did it.  And guess what? She PULLED me to the door. We have a lovely dog trail here at Pets Alive, and so I took Mackenzie for a good long walk. She LOVED it. She was SO happy! She even ran part of the way. Her tail was wagging, she was sniffing around, jumping, bouncing like a little puppy. So, check, MacKenzie likes going outside for walks.

I managed to take her out twice more that day and go for REALLY long walks. She was noticeably calmer, but she still tried to bite me when I took the leash off her.  Then after multiple trips outside Mackenzie seemed to care less and less about the leash. What I learned was that she just wants to be outside a lot. If she gets her outside time, she doesn’t care so much about the leash being taken off. She also figured out pretty quickly that if I put the leash on her, we were going outside for a long time and its going to be fun. So, once she figures out that the leash + you = fun, it’s fine.

The next day, Monday, our volunteer coordinator Andrea came in. She shares an office with me. She was pretty surprised to see MacKenzie in there, but she was a good sport about it after I assured her we had a lot of treats on hand. She also told me where MacKenzie came from.

10612952_1040146346000846_3240170523046241248_n-1MacKenzie was found in a foundation of a house about a year ago in the middle of winter. The couple who was building the house came to check on the property and found her crouched in a corner. She’d been out there for a long, long time. She was very, very skinny, cold, weak, sick and covered in mats. The couple had a hard time getting her into the box they used to bring her in. She was barking and biting…but can you blame her? It was February. She’d been out there ALL WINTER. It must have been hell for her. So was she grouchy? Yeah. You would be too. So, check. This dog had a hard, crappy life before she came to Pets Alive.

I noticed that she seemed to like it when Yogi, a little grey shih tzu, was walked through the office. She ran to the baby gate to see where he went. I figured maybe she might like to have a friend. Robin and I had a play date in the play yard, and mostly they ignored each other  but they did play for a few minutes. So, check. MacKenzie likes other dogs. Or at least THIS other dog.  I think she’d probably be OK with a dog friend as long as her new owner was careful.

So we’ve been going on like that for a few weeks now.  Things she likes: Going in the car, bagels, sleeping in a blanket, toys that squeak, running up and down the driveway, playing with Yogi, music, sticks.  Getting pet. Eating kibble from my hand. Belly rubs – when she is in the mood. Attending morning meeting. Haircuts.

Things she doesn’t like:  Anyone (or any dog) near anything that belongs to her, ever. And she HATES when someone pets her and she is not expecting it. But that’s it, really. 10628616_1040146459334168_5253874303516867367_n

What are the things that are great about MacKenzie? Well, for starters she is ADORABLE. I mean, look at those bulgy little eyes and crooked teeth. Who could possibly resist that? Secondly she loves to go outside and is AWESOME on a leash. If you love to walk, she’d love to walk with you.  She also likes to be pet, and I think she even has the potential to turn into a real snuggler – someday. She loves to go in the car and she is very, very brave. This morning she even barked at one of our horses, and if it had been up to her I think she would have ran right up and checked him out. She’s smart and funny and quiet, too.

MacKenzie needs a home with no children and preferably experienced dog owners. She is great about being crated so if you had children visiting, she could be crated without trouble. She needs people who are active and willing to take her out for long walks a couple times a day. She needs people who can respect the fact that she has a really, really bad resource guarding problem and that it needs some work.  Luckily, we have a trainer that can teach you how to work through it. She needs some people that will be PATIENT and UNDERSTANDING. She needs someone who will love her unconditionally and understand that she will love you too, even though she has a funny way of showing it sometimes.

She’s not perfect, but who is? This is a dog who deserves to have someone love her as much as the world has mistreated her. She deserves a family. Her own bed to sleep in. All the cuddles she wants…when she wants them. If that’s you, you can apply to adopt MacKenzie HERE. I’ll be happy to introduce you. I’ll even talk to you on the phone every time she acts up. We’ll help you through it if it’s rough, because that’s our commitment to MacKenzie.

10868294_1040157972666350_4765256168046103787_nThe writer Alana Massey says it better than I ever could, so I’m going to leave you with this quote from her.

“I have come to realize that success in rescue animal companionship is not measured by how much they end up loving you but by the simple fact that you stood by them when others would or could not. That you recognized that they were independent beings with heartbreaking histories over which you might have no control to alter for the better. That you loved them when they couldn’t muster the capacity or the inclination to reciprocate. And that by being present for them, you made good on the promise of unconditional care and love.”




Filed in Animal Rescue, No-kill by Audrey Lodato on Dec 21, 2014.  There are No Comments

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