Cinder, Goldie, Sam, Odette, Henna

Mr. Levin,

I recieved a copy of your book for christmas and I sat and read the entire thing, cover to cover, with a box of tissues in hand. I also had both of my dogs on either side of me, plus my mothers dog, and sisters dog! It was such a touching experience to read your book with 4 dogs laying all around me.

I grew up in Herndon/Reston and I have gone to JustPets for years, and even Reston Hospital a few times.

I have had to say goodbye 3 times in my short 25 years old. My two childhood dogs Cinder (Black German Shepherd mix) and Goldie (Golden Reteriver) and my Cat Sam (made it to 23 years old!). I felt evey emotion you had to wrestle with and cried my eyes out with you.

And like you, I have also found the stregnth to go on. Exactally a year ago I adopted a wonderful Catahoula Leopard Dog, Odette, from a kill shelter. She was an “unadoptable” dog. She was skinny, mangy, infested with worms and yeast infections in her ears and feet! Her poor boobies sagged like cow udders from nursing a recent litter of puppies. She was a wild dog until being captures by animal control in a barn, just trying to protect her 4 week old pups. No one wanted her. So of course I took her. It took 9 months of training and behavior work for her to finially emerge from her shell. November 13th she recieved her Therapy Dog International certification and passed her Canine Good Citizen test. She has never once looked back. She is a healer. Not only for me, but for the countless children and elderly she visits now. Odette, given the chance, has become a remarkable angel. And all she needed was for someone to be patient enough for just one chance.

My second dog came into my life June of 2007. Only 6 months after adopting Odette. Everyone thought I was insane for taking on another “unadoptable” dog when I was still struggling with Odette. But I just knew Henna, was for me. In December of 2006 when I was scouring PetFinder looking for dogs I came across Henna. A beautiful smooth coat Border Collie. She was solid white with one red merle patch over one eye. Both of her eyes were blue. She was stunning! By the time I had emailed the shelter she had already been adopted :( No hard feelings though, if it wasnt for losing Henna the first time, I would not have found Odette. But 6 months later Henna was returned to the shelter. It was the 3rd time she had been adopted and returned, and the constant lack of routine was taking its toll on the little working collie. None of the previous families bothered to train her or give her a job to do. I guess even in the age of Google, they didnt know how demanding Border Collies are. Henna was repeatedly adopted for being a “pretty face”. She was returned by the last family for biting (nipping/herding, but try telling that to frantic parent) a neighborhood child 3 times and being out of control (chasing cars, bikes, skateboards, acting aggressive towards strangers and other dogs, etc). And I just knew I could help her. When I went the shelter Henna was susposed to be euthanized due to her history. But since I was a dog trainer (for fun job! Day job, I teach middle school art), I was allowed to adopt her. Henna was a mess. In my opinon, not aggressive, but starving for structure and acting on hundreds of years of selected instinct to WORK and herd what moves. Using “ceaser milian” style techinques, her “aggressive” behavior was stopped in just 2 hours after adopting her. And she has yet to look back. In the 6 months I have had Henna, she is excelling at Rally Obedience, Agility and disc dog sports. We start sheep herding this winter. All Henna needed was a job to do. I had a second chance with Henna. I just knew she was ment to be with me. Love alone for this dog, was not good enough. She is the hardest working, most willing to please animal I have ever had the pleasure to work with.

It takes a very special person to adopt the “unadoptables”. The senior dogs, the disabled dogs, the deaf and blind dogs, the aggressive dogs (knowing how to train them) and all the dogs out there that are deemed “unadoptable”. I honor you for rescuing Sprite and Griffen. You have inspired me to take a closer look at senior dogs and all the wisdom they contain. My next rescue will be a senior dog. One that just needs a quiet place and a warm bed to call home.

Thank you for your book. It was very touching. It is amazing how intense our relationshipe become with our dogs. Dogs are our family, our protectors, and our souls. I think people who have dogs and treat them well, are better people altogether.

Rachel from VA