I started thinking about getting a pet dog about three months after I moved into my own place. It’s always been a dream of mine to get my own dog again after my childhood pet Ross passed away when I was eighteen. I still dream about him and miss him and I couldn’t wait to experience that love again with another pooch.
Being older and able to make my own choice about where I find my dog, I decided I wanted to try out adopting a dog from a shelter. I started by following various Facebook pages. Quickly, I could see that so many dogs are mistreated and abandoned in Malta. I wanted to be part of helping the problem and give a home to a dog in need. I slowly started getting in touch with people with the aim of exploring my options. Many sanctuaries suggested coming to meet the dogs and start walking them so that I could get to know them and they could make the right match according to my needs. I explained that I lived alone and worked full-time so I needed to find the right character who could handle spending time alone. I secretly wondered if it was fair to bring a dog into my life given that I would not be home for 40 hours a week and given that I had no garden since I live in a flat. When I reached out and shared my concerns, I was not discouraged – they explained that I needed to find the right dog who could settle in well with my situation. I continued to explore, without commitment, saying to myself that I would come to the right decision by time.
I reasoned that there might be the right dog out there for me. I appreciated how the people who led the sanctuaries were cautious about the adoptive person needed to build a rapport with the dog they may adopt and were not just quick to send them off with anyone who offers a home. I appreciated the seriousness in which the matching process took place and could see the good hearts in the people doing this work who were invested in seeing their dogs in happy forever homes. They clearly wanted stability for the dogs and to avoid failed placements.
At this point, I met Louise from Rescued is my favorite breed who asked me to go down to meet her, after I filled in an application form explaining what I was looking for. From the page, I could see that there was an option to foster a dog which I thought would be a perfect trial run for me to see if my lifestyle could fit in with a dog and how I would handle it. This is when I met Max.
Max is a pit-bull mix breed dog of eight years. Awaiting his forever owner to find appropriate accommodation, Max was rescued and being cared for at the Animal Welfare pens. When I saw him, he immediately came up to me and gave me his head saying, ‘Pet me please!’ I grabbed hold of his lead and walked him a bit – or rather, he walked me! He pulled and I was dragged along until he quickly got tired.
After a few days of thinking about it, I decided to give this opportunity a shot and I agreed to foster Max. I picked him up and took him home. Max was disoriented and confused. He was only sure of one thing – he needed to mark his territory ASAP! Then ensued the peeing saga that I was not expecting. Fostering an older dog, I somehow didn’t consider this part. I quickly poured him food and water – I expected him the devour them but nothing. He didn’t touch his food and drank a bit of water. I threw toys to him but he didn’t react. I even gave him the best treats I had but nada! I reached out to Louise and asked for her advice. I asked how Max behaved before and she told me this was normal behavior until he settled in and reassured me it would improve.
I took him out for walks and this, he loved! He was so happy walking, sniffing, exploring. And I was happy too. I always wished to walk more around Dingli and with Max by my side I was more likely to take him out for his bathrooms needs and enjoy the fresh air and greenery. Speaking of greenery, the only thing Max ate for the first two days was grass! Yes, grass! Took some research to realise that the car ride probably upset him and the grass (which he later regurgitated) helped him settle it.
I started getting a little overwhelmed myself at the cleaning I had to do with Max in my life. I wanted to give him a room with a baby gate where he could stay while I was at work or at night so that he wouldn’t roam around the house and possibly damage/pee on anything. I was kindly donated two baby gates but Max quickly showed me he was NOT interested! One swoop of his hefty paw and down fell the gate. Rescued is my favorite breed was right there, helping me find another gate, suggesting the right products to use for potty training, giving me ideas of what I can feed him and generally interested in how he’s doing and supporting me every step of the way.
I remember on the second day, I was sitting on the sofa and Max was on his bed next to it. From the corner of my eye, I saw him moving. He was playing! It was such a joy to see! And a relief! A clear sign his anxiety is subsiding and he is feeling safer. He started to eat, slowly but surely. The potty training got better too. I didn’t realise that as new as this was to me – this was new to Max too! He had no idea what happened and how things changed in his life! He needed time to adjust, to understand the new routines and to make sense of what happened. It’s amazing how sensitive these canine creatures are and have needs much like children! They are dependent on you yet so loving and grateful to have you.
In fact, Max follows me around as if I am his security blanket. He takes some time when I get home from work to relax and trust that I am there and I won’t go away for a long time again. I can clearly see his separation anxiety, especially when I put him in his room to sleep and he starts to cry. Over time, I realized that this experience was new for me too and I needed time to adjust and get used to being a pet owner, to Max and his character as well as the new routines in my life.
When Max met his owner Pierre (who was extremely supportive throughout this journey), I felt so moved and touched by their bond. Max was so happy to see him and Pierre’s love shone through. They are made for each other, a perfect match; I am happy to be part of the journey to help them be together.
Thank you to Animal Welfare for rescuing our future pets and allowing us to give them a second chance at family. If you are interested in fostering, adopting or volunteering with the dogs, you can contact Rescued is my favorite breed here.