Gotcha days, the days we adopt our dogs from rescue or shelters, are often the cause for yearly celebrations and memories. And are often joyful moments in and of themselves. In this post I will share the dog adoption stories of our two: Mort and Tig in celebration of #JoyfulMoments – an Internet event celebrating the joy we share with our pets.

The #JoyfulMoments movement asks us to share our adoption stories or any other other joyful memories we have of our cherished companions. What does joy mean to you and your pets? Do you want to share your dog adoption stories? At the end of this article you can find ways to share your own stories of joy with others.

Adopting Tig: Joy in comfort

Tig the English Shepherd.

I am a sensitive girl.

Tig was relinquished to the San Francisco Animal Care and Control shelter by her previous owner, who moved to the Bay Area from Texas. Her name was Tigger with her previous owner, so we kept it as it was the only thing she knew in a world she seemed fairly terrified in. According to her paperwork, he couldn’t find a rental that accepted two dogs – so she ended up at the shelter. She apparently liked Beggin’ Strips.

While it’s easy to lay blame with a previous owner for “dumping” her, I don’t think or say that. I also saw in her papers that he called the shelter constantly about her, that he wanted to take her back if she was going to be killed. I think the previous owner felt guilt. Perhaps made a mistake. It happens in life. I saw that he called, and cared. If anything, I want him to know that she’s OK and loved and that I realize he was in a tough situation and seemed like he genuinely cared for his dog.

Tig was a panic case, and couldn’t be evaluated. She was plastered to the back of her kennel, completely terrified, so she went to Grateful Dogs rescue and was being fostered by them before finding us. I saw her picture while I was distracting myself online – this was during the week of intense grief after Mikey passed. Her eyes reminded me of Mikey, and her name Tigger was the same of a dog belonging to a beautiful person who helped me during his horrible 3 day disase that took his life. That person also had a dog with the same illness, named Tigger. I thought all of this was a sign, so I applied for Tig. We met her about a week after Mikey passed, and she was at hour home as a “foster to adopt” a day later.

Perhaps it was too early to take her on. Her panic, my grief, didn’t make a good combination. She flew around our house at top speed from “safe place on the couch” to “safe place on the bed”. She didn’t want to be on the couch if one of us were there, so she had her own couch to herself. She couldn’t walk down the street without flying into a panic at anything (leaf, bag, god forbid a garage door opened). I had to learn to jog her to get her around the neighborhood. Two weeks later we adopted her officially.

Eight months into our life together she seemed to click… ahhhh… life is OK, I can finally relax. She finally walked into our kitchen, the room she would not go into even though the food was born there… click… click… tentative click. She became a dog again that day. I remember that moment like it was yesterday, and it brought tears to my eyes. Tigger regaining her dogness was truly a Joyful Moment.

Adopting Mort: Joy from the very first moment

Mort the Kelpie mix dog

They chose me!

The road to Mort wasn’t a short one, at all. While we wanted a second dog for some time, we had to wait until we moved into a home of our own. We also wanted to wait until we had bonded more closely with Tig and addressed some of her fears and sensitivities. Roughly a year after we adopted Tig, we started searching the rescues and shelters for dog #2.

We were looking for an older, male dog. Perhaps a medium herding type dog. Tig seemed to love herding type dogs like herself, they were the ones she sometimes wanted to play with.

We applied at several rescues, and were rejected or given the runaround by all of them. Or just never heard back. That’s right, despite my courses and experience I was rejected for rescuing a dog and had terrible communication problems that resulted in it not working out with a dog we had our heart set on. Long story short, we ended up at Merced County Animal Shelter in central California. Here is the story of how I walked up and down every aisle with a pen and paper. We introduced several dogs to Tig, and Mort was the only dog she liked.

The first sight of Mort, then called “Jim Backus”, was him standing on his back two feet in his kennel just wiggling his entire body at me. Standing. Like this:

Mort standing at the bay.

Mort stands like a prairie dog all the time. This is how I met him, wiggling happily standing on his back two feet for several minutes.

But in a kennel… a dark, not so clean kennel. A joyful little dog in a terrible place. He was added to my list.

Here are Mort’s shelter photos:

Mort at Merced County Animal Shelter

This is Mort at the shelter. A cute little guy, but you’d never know he has pointy ears!

Mort at Merced County Animal Shelter

He is pretty cute. And worried.

Mort at Merced County Animal Shelter

Distrusting Mort is distrusting.

And here is his sister, who was pulled to rescue prior to my arrival:

Mort's sister dog

Mort’s sister from Merced County Animal Shelter. Perhaps some insight into his breed mix?

Mort's sister dog

Another look at Mort’s sister dog.

Mort's sister dog

I think she has his ears!

While I often joke that “Tig chose Mort,” it was actually due to my priority was having a household where the animals got along. Of course we could honestly say that Tig did indeed choose Mort. She hated the other dogs, but liked him… a lot. Even at the stressful shelter. And oh boy did that little crazy 7 month old puppy work it in that meet and greet room. He was on his back trying to appease all of us! Especially the other dog. It worked. Instead of an older male dog, we adopted a crazy 7 month old crazy Australian Kelpie possibly terrier mix.

We had to wait for Mort’s surgery before he could come home two days later. He was terrified of the car, and loaded the back seat with vomit and stress drool on the 2.5 hour drive home – quite lovely. He also had kennel cough. But the rest is history. I think every day with Mort is a Joyful Moment as this dog is pretty much the definition of joy. He’s ready for it, giving it, and receiving it constantly. Mort = Joy. And Crazy. And All Emotions with Intensity.

And last but never least, Mikey: Joy of sharing time with my heart dog

Mikey a lab beagle mix

Mikey, my departed heart dog.

Mikey was my first adopted dog, and as so many other people say about their first dogs – the dog that changed my life. I wrote his story for Celebrate Shelter Pets Day not long after his death, and you can read it here. Mikey was pure joy in our 8 months together. He brought me happiness, comfort, and helped me deal with stress. All of that is at the core of joy. Just remembering him is joy. He will always be my heart dog.

Share your Joyful Moments

So what are your Joyful Moments? There are many ways to share your story:

  • Use the hashtag: Share your story on a social network such as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook using the hashtag #JoyfulMoments.
  • Join the Twitter chat: Join @Pet360 & @BlogPaws for a #BlogPawsChat in celebration of the #JoyfulMoments we share with our pets! The chat takes place on Tuesday, December 9 at 8 PM-10 PM EST. There will also be prizes from Pet360 and Only Natural Pet.
  • If you’re a blogger, I also invite you to write about your dog adoption stories and link them up to the Blog Hop below. This isn’t anything official, but I love reading such stories (I don’t think I’m the only one!) and would love to have them collected together for everyone to enjoy. So add the blog hop to your post and link up your story so we can all share our memories and moments.
  • If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the Pet360 community: There is a Dog Rescue forum, and a Cat Rescue forum that might just be the perfect fit for your story. We also have groups for senior pets and more!


About Author

Jen deHaan is graphic designer, small business owner, and dog person living in Bay Area, California. Jen enjoys learning about dog training and behavior, and has taken several courses and seminars since 2010. She also contributes articles to leading websites, such as Victoria Stilwell's Positively . It all started with a great dog called Mikey (aka "dude"), loved and lost but remembered forever. Jen also runs a freelance business focusing on graphic, web, and UI design at FoundPixel, and a small business creating hand crafted dog products at Stylish Canine.

  • I love these stories! Lucky you, lucky Mikey, lucky Tig, lucky Mort!

  • Mark S

    Wonderful stories. Love the “They chose me” picture Mort. So different from the pictures in the kennel.

    • Haha, so true! He looks so emo in his shelter photos! I guess he really knew to put on the charm with potential adopters, because he was nothing but happy wiggles when we met him there!

  • Cathy C Bennett

    No matter the season this was such a heartwarming story! However reading this and listening to some Christmas music made it extra special. Tig’s caption is priceless too! You did a great job Jen, you’ve given them a home full of love and they continue to bless you!

  • I absolutely love this post!! Such great stories!! <3 Tig and Mort are so cute!

  • This is amazing – I had no idea about Tig’s history. I really do feel for people like her previous owner; having to be that distraught over leaving a dog behind must be heartbreaking. I’m glad it all worked out, I imagine she really needed the right kind of home and she luckily ended up in yours. I applied for a fearful dog and was rejected; I really have a soft spot for them. I love knowing that Tig chose Mort – go figure lol. Our dogs are so funny in that way – maybe opposites really do attract.

  • Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets

    I loved your stories, and then I had to go read Mikey’s story as well. Why is it sometimes our first dogs are with us such a short time? I thought Shelby’s time of 6 years was too short, but 8 months is WAY too short. It doesn’t take long for them to steal our hearts though, does it?
    BTW, I’m sharing this hop on my blog tomorrow too.

  • I had no idea that Tig was a shy, fearful dog when you adopted her! This is a wonderful post. I love Mort’s prairie dog picture, and his sister sure looks a lot like a Border Jack!

    • She was! Oh I don’t miss those days, everyone being so sad and stressed!

      His sister sure does, doesn’t she! They have such different colors I have no clue what’s going on with their breed-stuffs :)