Celebrating Gotcha Day

Photo by Rachel Liz Photography

Photo by Rachel Liz Photography

Our doggy “Gotcha Day” is next week, and I can hardly believe it. In the world of animal lovers and rescuers, “Gotcha Day” is celebrated on the anniversary of the day you adopted your pet. Often with rescues, you don’t know their actual birthday, so the Gotcha Day becomes your big annual celebration for your beloved pet.

We adopted not one but two rescue dogs last year on June 29th. Did we intend to adopt two dogs in one go? We most certainly did not!

In celebration of Ellie & Rigby, our much-loved pups, I’m sharing with you today the story of how they came into our lives, and what I’ve learned from them in my first year of being their Dog Mom.

The Story of Ellie & Rigby

My husband and I had wanted a dog for years, but the timing was never right. We did two years of long distance, and neither of us wanted to shoulder all the work of caring for a dog solo, so we figured we’d wait until we lived in the same place. Once we lived in the same place, we lived separately, so we figured we’d wait until we lived together. Once we lived together in an apartment, we’d figure we’d wait until we owned a house. Once we owned a house, we figured we’d wait until after our wedding. Then we had to build a fence.

Finally, 2018 was our year.

We started our search by perusing local shelters online. Which, what couple hasn’t done that together ad nauseum? It’s the next step after endlessly perusing Zillow together and buying a home.

After we got a good sense of the pups that were out there, we headed to some local shelters to get a feel for what they were all like. We visited Verona Street, Lollypop Farm, and One Love Pet Adoptions.

These were meant to be initial visits, browsing and learning. Nothing more.

Then we met Ellie & Rigby.

We headed to One Love in Scottsville on a rainy Sunday afternoon, looking for two dogs we’d seen online and curious to learn more about the shelter. When we arrived, the dogs we were interested in seemed far more aggressive than we anticipated. As we walked up and down the aisle, my husband found himself kneeling outside one run with two dogs in it that looked alike. A dog much bigger than I initially wanted was sniffing his hand and letting him pet her.

In the back was a dog that appeared to be her sister, looking shy but like a pretty cute pug.

“Let’s take them for a walk,” my husband said.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I replied, dumbfounded.

Reader, we walked those dogs.

We walked them around the grassy area near the parking lot, little ropes for collars and leashes. They seemed SO happy. At the time, their names were Alexa & Siri (yes, you can laugh at that). Then-Siri (now-Rigby), licked my husband’s face incessantly. We were smitten.

Never did we ever intend to adopt two dogs at once. One dog would be plenty of work! Enough of an adjustment! But they were bonded and the shelter wouldn’t separate them. They were buy-one-get-one-free. And they came home with us that Friday.

Lessons I’ve Learned from My Dogs

As we approach one year of having Ellie & Rigby in our lives, it boggles my mind that it hasn’t been longer. It feels like we’ve always had them. Here are just a few things they’ve taught us:

  • Slow down - Sometimes on a walk, Rigby will look up at the sky, her ears twitching and blowing in the breeze, and I’ll look up too. Why don’t we look up more? Or look around? My dogs are always reminding me to slow down and enjoy things more.

  • Be patient - Both of our pups are a bit reactive to other dogs. We don’t know their history from before they came to us, just that they were strays in Tennessee, but even since they’ve been with us, they have been attacked by other dogs. They’ve taught us to be patient with them as they learn about other dogs and try to grow more comfortable.

  • Laugh a little - Very frequently, our dogs are ridiculous. They dance around in a silly way, their ear flops in a way that looks absurd, or they are unexpectedly playful. Ellie & Rigby are great at bringing a smile to our faces.

  • There’s always time to snuggle - Cuddling with a dog who loves you unconditionally is pretty great. Even if you have to go to work, there’s time for a quick snuggle before you go.

  • Get outside! - Our dogs get two walks a day every single day, no matter the season. That’s a pretty big commitment for Rochester! The pups help us appreciate the seasons more. Ellie loves snow, and frolics through it after the first light and fluffy snowfall. Rigby loves summer and will lay out on the deck in sunshine as long as possible, soaking it all in. They encourage us to enjoy walks and time outdoors regardless of the weather.

We’ll be celebrating Gotcha Day with a special dog cake, made in a dog bone pan of course, and a gift named Gordon the Sloth. Gordon is made by BarkShop, the same folks who made one of their all-time favorite toys, Monsieur Acorn. If you click on any of those links and buy your dog something nice, I’ll receive a tiny percentage because it’s an affiliate link. Then I can buy my dogs more toys, and we’ll all have happy pups.

Are you a dog lover? What have your pets taught you? I want to hear! Tweet me at @servemethesky and share your stories.