Roger, aka Roger Dodger
For years, my husband and I lamented living in an apartment that did not allow dogs. We constantly talked about dogs (How many? How big? What name?). When we finally had our own home, we started researching dogs and where to get them. I had a lot of preconceived ideas and thought that we should definitely go to a breeder. I had never been to a dog shelter and knew very little about dog adoption. I thought dogs in shelters had “behavioral” issues and were untrained or abused. I had a new house with new rugs and furniture and thought no way.
As I started reading more and learning about the rescue organizations in the area, I thought maybe I should check them out. There were so many just a few miles away. We thought we could just visit and see what happened. We went to Milo Foundation on a sunny February day in Richmond. The Milo Foundation is an amazing organization that rescues dogs from all over, particularly dogs that are in high kill shelters or desperate for a safe place.
We walked through the dog crates, peaking in on big dogs that seemed like they could take up our whole living room. We asked if there were any dogs that were a bit smaller but had good energy and would like being active.
I almost don’t remember meeting Roger (originally Roger Dodger) that day, it was such a blur. A medium-sized 9-month-old “Staffie-mix”—37 pounds of solid muscle—came out wiggling, wagging, and snorting. They told us he had kennel cough but was on the mend and we could take him out for a walk. He didn’t look like any dog I had ever seen. He was brindle colored, with markings like a tiger, and his head seemed a bit too big for his body. We walked him to the park area, or I should say, he dragged us there (they told us we would need to work on his “manners”). His tongue was white and he was sneezing. I knelt down next to him, and he leaned up against me like he couldn’t get close enough, then put his paw on my leg. That was it. I told my husband, “We can’t leave without him.”
We couldn’t actually take him home that day, because we didn’t have anything to take care of a dog. We signed the paperwork and headed straight to the pet store, terrified. We had no idea what we were doing. Could we even take care of a dog, let alone a sick dog that had been a stray and lived in shelters his whole life? We could and we did.
Roger came home with us about a week later. He explored our house like a wild animal. He barked at his reflection on the oven and pawed at the mirrors in the bedroom. Every time a dog barked on the TV, he ran to the screen to see who was there. He marked a few places like the fireplace (what?!), but after that was totally reliable at only going outside.
He has acclimated over time to our home, his body has caught up in size to his head, and he has 100 percent become a member of our family. He still jumps on just about any moving thing that steps foot in our house (we’re working on that). We initially kept the door shut at night but now let him sleep in our bed (nothing like stinky dog breath and a paw in your face as an alarm clock). Taking the plunge and bringing him home was just about the best decision we have ever made. He brings us endless joy and laughs. I think he’s pretty happy, too.
Courtney Kaczmarsky is a public health and health-care project management professional who recently moved to Oakland from the Boston Area. She is a runner and avid hiker, spending her weekends on the East Bay trails with her husband and four-legged best friend. Follow her adventures on Instagram @superkacz.
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Main article photo by: Photo courtesy Courtney Kaczmarsky