In the past, I had incredibly good luck of just going to the Pasadena Humane Society and finding the perfect dog. I had found Sami there and before Sami, Chelsea. This time it wasn’t happening. Most of the dogs they had were Chihuahuas or Pitbull mixes.
Having had big dogs, I liked the safety of having a dog who at least looked intimidating (Sami would have invited burglars in for a petting, but at over 90 pounds, she looked like she could hurt you.) I definitely did not want a Pitbull. Not that I had not met some wonderful ones in my life, but there are places that will not board them and your home insurance is also an issue. Plus, adopting one I didn’t know gave me hesitation. Could a pit that I hadn’t raised from a puppy be trusted?
I checked a couple of other shelters, but found mostly the same thing.
I investigated a couple of rescue groups. I found myself filling out applications that rivaled my last two jobs. I had always wanted a Rhodesian Ridgeback and I was finally contacted to meet a beautiful dog named Knox who was in foster care.
His foster mother and I visited for almost two hours one Saturday. Most of the time, Knox slept on my lap. He seemed very sweet, but his foster mom shared that he was having some aggression issues with her other Rhodesian Ridgeback, Brody. She also let me know that there was another woman very interested in Knox and she would be making a decision later in the week.
Sunday morning, the D-Man and I were having breakfast. I kept thinking about Knox and the fact that he had not one, but two opportunities at a wonderful life. It didn’t seem fair that there was some other dog out there who didn’t even have one.
I got my phone out and started searching the shelters again, when my eyes caught a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix at the Burbank Animal shelter named Toby. He did not appear as beautiful as Knox, at least not in the picture. I had seen him before but was put off by the listing that said he had been surrendered after a vicious fight with the other family dog, a Pitbull. A fight Toby supposedly started. They also said he would have to be an only pet. I had a sudden vision of Kato ending up as lunch.
“Let’s take a look at him, “ D-Man suggested.
When we got to Burbank, rather than sleeping on a couch, Toby was in a concrete pen. He had scars all over his chest and sides from the aforementioned fight, but even with the scars, he looked much better than his picture. He also had the most intense yellow colored eyes I had ever seen in a dog. Exotic and almost a little scary.
When they brought him out to the shelter yard for his meet and greet, he seemed more interested in some dogs who were meeting their perspective families. He watched them intently, but he never growled and he never barked. He seemed nervous, not uncommon for dogs when they get in the meet and greet yard and didn’t pay much attention to us.
What struck me was the man who worked at the shelter. He was really trying to sell us on him and kept saying what a sweet dog he was. A sweet dog who started a fight with a Pitbull? I was a little torn.
“What do you think?” I asked D-Man.
“I think he’s a keeper.”
“You don’t think he would eat Kato?”
“And why would that be a problem?” Kato and the D-Man are not fans of each other.
I rolled my eyes.
I hadn’t started working from home yet, so I asked if I could pick him up mid-week when I had a day off. They were happy to oblige.
Driving home, I was a little nervous. We picked up a few things I needed for him and discussed names. I could not keep Toby. So many bad things had happened to him as Toby and I wanted him to have a fresh start. I thought of fighter names, since he apparently had been a fighter. Foreman? Rocky? I liked Tyson. But the next morning I had a change of heart. Being a fighter was part of his life as Toby. I decided to combine the names of the two Rhodesian Ridgebacks who had started my search for a Ridgeback mix. Toby would now be Kody, a combination of Knox and Brody.
I brought Kody home and took him in the yard. Kato snarled at him from the back screen, but gradually got over it. They ate their first dinner together side by side without any issues.
By the next day, Kody had become totally attached to me. He followed me from room to room. I was painting my home office and he was underfoot the whole time. Sometimes he just stared at me, like a lovesick teenager.
I had to leave him for a long day two days after I had him and when I returned home, I can honestly say I have never had a dog give a more enthusiastic greeting. Even now, if I leave him to go to the gym for two hours after working from home all day, he acts as if he hasn’t seen me in a week.
He was not overly impressed with the D-Man at first. In fact when he would stare at us, he would say, only half kiddingly, “I think he may be plotting my murder.” But as the weeks have gone by, Kody has decided the D-Man is part of the pack and loves him almost as much as he loves me.
I say almost because Kody is really a one woman dog. While Sami was the dog who loved everyone, Kody is mostly indifferent to most people. He has met some he likes, but in general, he still stares at me like I am the most wonderful human he has ever seen. If I have a frustrating meeting, he knows. He puts his paws on my lap, stares into my face with those exotic eyes, and without words, makes me feel all better. He is extremely well behaved in the house, loves to cuddle and seems to kind of like hanging out with Kato, especially when all three of us are on the couch watching HGTV. He may only be 70 pounds, the smallest dog I have had as an adult, but he is a great watch dog and is not afraid to let strangers know they are not welcome near our home.
He does not do well with certain dogs, but it seems to be more aggression out of fear than anything else. The shelter can only repeat what was told to them, but I wonder if the dog formerly known as Toby was given up because he started the fight, or because they thought a dog they said was a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix would have a better chance at adoption than his Pit brother.
Which brings me to the most ironic part of the story. I had him DNA tested shortly after I got him. The results were not what I expected. He was not a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. Matter of fact, there was no Rhodesian Ridgeback in him. He was a mix of Boxer, German Shepherd, Weimaraner (the eyes should have told me that) and wait for it………Pitbull. Looking at the paperwork, I was more than a little disappointed.
He is not a Rhodesian Ridgeback . He is not anything like my beloved Sami, just as Sami was not anything like Chelsea. He is Kody. He will never replace any of the other dogs I had before him, but he replaces the emptiness I had in my heart and in my home.
I wanted a Rhodesian Ridgeback. I did not want a Pitbull mix.
But in reality, I got exactly what I wanted. A dog who looks at me like I am the love of his life.