Going to the Dogs – The Story of Rambo

Pet owners and would be pet owners of 2013 – where did you/do you plan on getting your cat/dog/rabbit/turtle from? I wanted to share the story of adopting my dog, and encourage anyone who is thinking of giving a pet a home to consider adoption.


My main childhood obsession was getting a dog. I wrote very persuasive arguments over and over again at school. I begged Santa. I even “adopted” an injured pigeon which I kept in my closet (sorry mom!) We eventually had a wonderful dog named Cody, who sadly passed away a few years ago but was such an amazing addition to our family. When I moved to Toronto I didn’t think I had the time/money/patience to own a dog and it just wasn’t something I thought would work for my new independent lifestyle (aka going out with friends and sleeping in late).

While visiting Woofstock (an annual outdoor “dog bonanza” in Toronto) with my ex-boyfriend I was living with at the time (B), we came across a section dedicated to pet adoptions. And dogs, so many dogs. And cute little pugs. B was pretty sold on the idea of us adopting a dog (our relationship was fairly rocky at this point, and maybe he thought it would bring us closer). I was hesitant, but with B’s promises that it would be okay and the fact that I truly do love dogs, we decided to look into adopting.

The two main organizations we considered, since we were looking for a specific breed, were Pugalug and Petfinder. Local animal shelters are also a great place to find a pet, but if you have your heart set on a specific breed there are adoption groups based on breeds that you can look into online (search breed name + adoption or rescue). We came across a six month old pug for adoption in Montreal, who was in a kill shelter and needed a home after being returned three times during his short life (a couple bought him from a breeder but didn’t have time for him, and two families with young children who also did not have time to train a puppy brought him back. Just like that, he had three strikes.) As a couple with an apartment near a park, free time and no children we were in the “final running” to adopt him.

The adoption process was lengthy, as any serious process should be. We had to provide a lot of information (employer, landlord, find a vet, pay an adoption fee etc.) and I was still so nervous – was this the right decision? Were we ready for a dog? Could we really give him a good home? After a few “interviews”, we received a final call that we were approved for adoption with a date for pick up. Excited, B and I got right into spoiling our dog-to-be and went out to pick up a ridiculous amount of toys/treats/a leash.

We drove to a home in the suburbs where the volunteers operated out of and we patiently waited outside with a few other people who had adopted dogs as well. The volunteers opened the back of the cube van, filled to the top with transport cages/crates, and as soon as I saw the little smushy pug face pressed against the bars, scared and nervous, I made a promise to myself to give him the very best life that I could, and I hoped I could erase all of the terrible experiences he’d had so far in his short life. He had caught mange in the shelter, and had big patches shaved out of his fur – but he looked absolutely perfect to me.

We drove home and watched as our new addition explored every inch of our apartment, his toys, bed, bowls etc. He never did sleep in that pet bed, he absolutely destroyed it, and instead curled up at the foot of our bed. We named him Rambo. He’s a little warrior.

In the end getting a dog didn’t save B and my relationship, as it never would have, and months later we broke up. It was a very painful time in my life, but Rambo was there for me. Through many apartment moves, though a few more broken hearts, getting sick and ending up in the hospital – he has given me back so much over these past six years. I can’t imagine life without him.

When I started dating Andrew, Rambo took a liking to him right away. We moved in together, and going on long walks is still one of our favorite things to do (except in the winter – no thank you!) Now it’s hard to tell if he was my dog first, his dog, or has always been both of ours.

Adopting a pet gives a second chance to an animal that needs a home. But more selfishly, having something in your life that loves you so unconditionally is worth the expensive vet bills, the late night walks and everything else that comes with owning a pet. If you just give them a home and a chance at life, they will give you back so much in return.

Rambo, thank you for being a part of our family.

We love you so much

Andrew and Rambo

Andrew and Rambo

Me and Rambo enjoying the beach

Me and Rambo enjoying the beach



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2 responses to “Going to the Dogs – The Story of Rambo

  1. Alda

    Thank you for writing this, Jen. It reminds me how much I miss having a pup in my life.

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