Worth the wait. And the drive.

After our Saint Bernard Jack passed away unexpectedly our house was a sad place for awhile.saint-bernard

It was the first time in our married life (almost 9 years!!) that we didn’t have at least one dog roaming around.  Hubby wanted to get another dog immediately.  I wasn’t too keen on it–I needed time to grieve.  I didn’t want to replace him right away.  But a few days after Jack’s passing I came home with the kids after Hubby had just finished giving the house its weekly scrub down.  His eyes were all red, and when asked he said he must’ve gotten some cleaner in them.  Later, while the kids were taking their nap, he confessed that he had actually been crying.  Cleaning had depressed him because there weren’t any huge balls of Jackson fur or long strings of Jackson drool.  The house wasn’t destroyed 5 minutes after it was cleaned because the dirty dog walked across the floor.  I knew I needed to start my search right away.

I already knew that I wanted another Giant dog.  After our first dog together passed away a few years back, a Lab mix named Dutch, we I decided Jack was lonely and needed another dog.  Hubby put his foot down and said we were only going to own one dog over 100 pounds and I reluctantly agreed.  After a lot of research we finally decided on a Greyhound.  They seemed like the perfect breed for our family:  lazy, little shedding, calm, good with kids.  We applied to a rescue, were approved and picked up our retired racer.  Moody was 2 1/2 years old when we adopted him and a wonderful dog.greyhound-st-bernard

Except for one huge problem:  he peed in the house.  Constantly.  Not because he needed to, but, as we later realized, because he was stressed and/or pissed off at us.  A dog who doesn’t like change does not fit in well with a military family.  We did the best we could but after trying and trying for 2 and a half years, we finally had to return him to his rescue.  That was a year ago and I still feel like crap every time I think about it.  The only thing that got me through it was knowing that the dog wasn’t happy with our constantly changing lifestyle.  If he was happy he wouldn’t be peeing on everything.  It was what was best for him…he would’ve been miserable for the rest of his life if he had stayed with us.

The worst thing about giving Moody up was our daughter.  J LOVED Moody.  He didn’t drool or slobber; he was calm; he didn’t shed; he didn’t have stinky breath.  Basically he was the antitheses of Jackson (whom she disliked as much as she liked Moody).  greyhoundSo we did what any responsible parent would do:  we told her he died.  She did not take it well.

As horrible as it is to give a dog back to the rescue, we did learn a few valuable lessons.  One:  we need a dog who can accept change.  Who can move from one house to another without batting an eye.  Who can travel to our parents’ homes with us.  Who can go on vacation.  We like to take our dog(s) everywhere with us and we need a dog that wants to go.  Two:  I wanted a Giant dog.  Although Moody was a great dog, he didn’t have that dumb personality that Gentle Giants do.  The dum-da-dum-da-dum-da-dum running through their brain…and not much else.  But smart at the same time.  Plus there’s just something about a dog that weighs more than you do!  I don’t know, I can’t describe it.  I’m just a big dog girl.

So this was where we started to run into some problems.  Hubby wanted to look into some other breeds.  He really didn’t care what kind of dog we got at all…anything would do.  I, on the other hand, had something very specific in mind.  And it had to be at least 100 pounds.  I was on petfinder and adoptapet constantly.  I searched for giant rescues, St Bernard rescues, mastiff rescues, you name it, I looked.  At first I only applied to places that had a specific dog that I was interested in.  And then I realized that not only does it take 4-5 weeks just for the application to be processed, but we have a lot of red flags.

We have children under the age of 5.  Even though we’ve had dogs and children, and both at the same time, a lot of rescues won’t adopt out to families with young children at home.  Especially Giant breed dogs.

We’re military.  A lot of rescues are leery of adopting out dogs to military families.  This one I kind of understand.  There are way too many families out there who give their dog up the moment they move.  They don’t even try to find a place to live.  However, and this is a big however, we had our St. Bernard for seven years.  He lived in seven states with us.  The only time we had a major problem finding a place to rent that would allow a 165 pound dog we just bought a home instead.  Giving up a dog because we can’t find somewhere to live is not an option for us, and our past track record proves that.  So the places that declined our application for this reason really pissed me off.

We’ve given a dog back to a rescue.

By the time we reached 3 weeks without a dog, I just started applying to any type of large dog rescue figuring that on the off chance they received a dog we were interested in at least we’d already be approved.  5 weeks into the search I started broadening my horizons, thinking maybe I didn’t need a giant dog.  I started looking at Dalmatians, American Bulldogs, Catahoula Leopard Mixes…all kinds of stuff.  But nothing seemed to fit.  Nothing screamed “this is my dog”.  I just couldn’t own some tiny 90 pound dog (yes, I realize what I just said.  It’s the truth!!!!).

And then I saw this guy.neapolitan-mastiff-1

Oh my God that FACE!!!!!!!!!!  I had to have him.  A 2-3 year old male Neapolitan Mastiff named Roman.  I had already put an application into East Coast Gentle Giants, the rescue that had him; I was just waiting on my approval.  Which was fine, because he was new the rescue and still “under evaluation”.  Downside?  He was located in Troy, NY…8 hours from us.  And this particular rescue will not transport their dogs; you have to get them.  No exceptions.

And this was farther than Hubby was willing to travel.  He was a no-go.

So I continued my search.  But Roman was the only dog that I had seen anywhere that I just had to have.  Immediately.  I felt nothing for any of the other dogs.  At the 7 week mark we finally received the confirmation that we were approved to rescue from East Coast.  By this point Hubby and I were both dejected.  We didn’t think we would ever find a dog that we could both agree on.  After receiving the approval I showed him Roman’s picture again.  And this time he said, “You know what?  F*ck the 8 hours.  I want him too.”

And that was that.  2 weeks later we drove to Troy, NY and picked up our dog.neapolitan-mastiff-2

That was a month ago and we are still in love.  He is such a ham.  He loves to be with his people.  This is him his first and second day with us.  Things haven’t changed at all.neapolitan-mastiff-8neapolitan-mastiff-3

And the third night he’s on the coffee table because that was the “fastest” way to get from Hubby to myself–over the coffee table.  He was stuck up there for about 5 minutes before the chicken sh*t would jump off.neapolitan-mastiff-7

And this is where I find him every day when I come back to the house after leaving for a bit.  Curled up in a tiny ball on “his” chair.neapolitan-mastiff-4

He is the perfect dog for us.  He’s tough as nails and nothing the kids (or us) do to him bothers him in the slightest.  He is super smart.  We had a dog trainer come out for a private lesson and within 10 minutes he learned all kinds of commands.  We’re taking him to obedience school and he has made lightyears of progress.  He’s lazy.  He doesn’t shed.  He doesn’t smell.  He’s sweet.  He’s big enough for me (he’s currently 115 pounds but is about 20-30 pounds underweight so he’s nearly perfect 😉 ).  He’s a family dog.

We picked him up two days after my son’s first birthday and we couldn’t have gotten C a better birthday present.  He loves that dog and that dog loves him.  neapolitan-mastiff-5Especially at mealtime.  neapolitan-mastiff-10

The only problem?  J.  I don’t know if you noticed in the picture from the day we picked him up from his foster family, but she wasn’t too keen on him.  And still isn’t.neapolitan-mastiff-6

Part of it is jealousy.  It’s yet another thing that’s taking attention away from her.  (She was an only child for waaaaaaaay too long!).  And since he’s such a big guy on family, he always wants to be in the middle of the action.  Especially when we’re sitting on the couch or playing on the floor.  Another big part of it is how drooly he is.  She hates dog kisses.  And although Roman doesn’t dole out kisses, he has a constant string of drool running from his from his mouth.  Like a long disgusting one.  It even grosses me out.  She’s starting to do a bit better…I think we’ve moved from hatred to dislike…that’s progress….right?!

Not only did we end up with the perfect dog, but I discovered something else.   Once Hubby is out of the army and we’re settled somewhere I want to start a rescue.  A rescue that doesn’t immediately discriminate from a family because of a line on an adoption application.  A rescue that will at least talk to the family before rejecting them.  We turned in 20 dog applications and were only approved by 2 rescues.  What is that?!  People preach and preach about rescuing a dog and not going to a breeder, but when it’s that difficult to adopt a dog no wonder people get discouraged and go a different route!  We were dead set against a puppy and 100% positive that we were going to adopt, but around the 6 week mark we were so discouraged that we started considering it.  And we are great dog owners.  We should not have had this many problems finding a dog.  And I’m going to make sure that there’s at least one rescue out there that doesn’t discriminate against people for the silliest things.  Someday.

We were so frustrated by the search and felt so depressed and rejected…but it was all for a reason.  It was because he was waiting for us.  Now our family is whole again.neapolitan-mastiff-11

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