Sunday, July 21, 2013

Wiley's Rescue Story

Today marks Wiley's two-year anniversary of joining our family. Two years ago today we brought him home from the shelter during a stifling heat wave, and our adventure began. We don't know his birthday, so we celebrate his Gotcha Day instead.

Here's the first picture I posted of him, already breaking the house rules within just a few minutes of his arrival.

We had been dog-less for a little over a year when I went to the Hillside SPCA with some donations and a little bit of interest in looking at dogs.


Our beloved Mac had died the year before at age 15, not long after I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure, which translates into untreatable infertility.


After Mac died my mom suffered from a number of illnesses, a few of which were life-threatening, and in fact spent that Christmas in the ICU and many weeks off and on in the hospital. I too had a series of illnesses that resulted in some hospital time. Did I mention I also totaled my car? It was, to put it mildly, a traumatic year; these were just some of the events that contributed to my slide into clinical depression. When I look back now I don't know how I made it, but you can see why the timing wasn't right to bring home a new pet.

My husband, knowing what animals meant to me, began pushing me as the summer was approaching. He knew the emptiness I was feeling and knew a pet would help. But after suffering so much depression and anxiety and so many health problems I just didn't know if I could commit to caring for another living thing at that time. Still, as a teacher, the summer is the time to act when looking to adopt a pet.

Which brings us to that Tuesday in July when I went to drop off supplies at the shelter. My husband and I had discussed at length what we were looking for: female, young (not a puppy), medium to small size, good with other dogs.

I wanted a female because that's what we had always had growing up. I was looking for submissiveness and docility.  I was looking for a dog I could take with me when I visited my parents. I wanted a pet I could carry if they were sick or injured.

So I explained all that to the worker at the shelter, and she took me into the small dog building. It was packed to the brim with yip-yippers and some puppies. They were all precious and I wanted every last one. They ran to me when I walked in, and there was an interior room where even more ran towards me and pressed their nose up to the door.

I surveyed the scene while the words of the worker faded in and out. . . "part beagle, not dog aggressive. . .this girl is sweet. . .she hates cats. . . this one just got here yesterday. . maybe a lab mix. . .'' but my eyes settled on a dog far too large to be in the small dog building. He was curled up on top of a four foot high crate where the other dogs couldn't reach him, with his ears back and his tail hidden. And he was a red-tri Australian Shepherd, just like our Mac had been. I recognized that in an instant.

This is Wiley at the shelter, sitting on top of a desk to get away from the other pups.

I said "What's he doing here?" and he perked up a bit.

She walked over to the crate and put her hand towards him and he came over to her. "This guy is stressing really bad. We need to get him out of here fast. He is scared of all the other dogs. The big dogs would pick on him so we had to put him here where he could get away from the bullies."

Well. Be still my bleeding heart. 

I said "I want to walk him."

"You sure? He's a handful."  


And he was a handful. He hated every minute of being on the leash. All he wanted was to go back to the top of his crate. He shook from head to toe. He barely even acknowledged me. 

 I took him to a seating area at the shelter near their walking paths, and I couldn't even get him to face me. He just pulled as hard as he could to go back in the building.

Wiley and my husband on a recent visit to the shelter to drop off supplies.

I took a picture of his back and sent it to my husband. I didn't even explain it.

He said "He looks like Mac!"

I said "I want him!" I explained the details.

He said "He meets none of the criteria."

I said "He's the one."

Wiley's adoption requirements said he had to go to a house with no other dogs, no cats, and no kids. Well, sadly enough, we met his specifications even if he didn't meet ours. I couldn't bring him home that Tuesday because I had to go out of town all day Wednesday, so I paid for him and said I'd be up first thing on Thursday. And that dog, the one who barely bothered with me on Tuesday, leapt off the crate and licked my face on Thursday when I walked in. My heart skipped a beat because I knew he remembered me.

And just like in Harry Potter, where the wand chooses the wizard, Wiley (then named Moses) chose which family he was going to rescue that day.

Happy Gotcha Day Wiley. Even if you could understand every word I say I wouldn't be able to put into words how I feel about you and what you have done for us. 

SO- I have finally shared Wiley's rescue story. I'm not sure I did it any justice but there it is. Now it's your turn. Email me at

               Twitter: @RescueDogBlog
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  1. Great rescue story, I have all rescue dogs myself and I foster for a H2H. It is such a rewarding experience. Thank you for sharing your story , and give Wiley a happy Gotcha Day Hug from me.

  2. So I cried... It's totally fine. Haha.
    I completely understand the feeling of "this dog is the one".
    I'll have to share my story with you sometime, but it definitely doesn't compare to this. This seriously is super touching. He definitely went to the right house. Big hugs and a yummy (virtual) bone to your Wiley! Happy Gotcha Day!!

  3. Thanks for your kind words Taylor. We welcome your story anytime! If all rescue stories were the same what would be the point of sharing them, so please don't hesitate to send yours this way.

  4. As someone who deals with anxiety and depression I completely understand how healing animals can be. This story touched my heart. Thank you so much for sharing. Happy belated Gotcha Day Wiley! It makes me smile knowing that rescue dogs can go to homes such as yours where they are loved unconditionally and treated so well.

  5. Such a touching story! I'm so happy for you and Wiley, who is quite a handsome guy.
    All three of my dogs are rescues (two are also from Hillside) and I wouldn't have it any other way. I enjoy your blog and look forward to reading more.