Happy “Gotcha” Day, Olivia!

I’m so very excited to share with you Olivia’s adoption story. Growing up, our dogs came from breeders. While I see the value in that (sweet Grace with her kind temperament), I am so grateful for the experience of rescuing a dog.

Disclaimer: This story did involve a “we”that is no more. For the sake of people who still love her, the story has been adjusted slightly.

Valentine’s Day started off with a hike of sorts. The goal was to get to the Indian mounds that didn’t really have a trail and ended up being super wet. On the drive back, the decision was made to stop by Petsmart. This was common practice because the animals are just so adorable. My parents always warned me against going to shelters and Petsmart on Saturdays because of their adoption events (I had a really bad time falling in love with a dog I named “Baxter” when I was 20.). Of  course, Petsmart was having one of their largest adoption events of the year. Exploiting Valentine’s Day for the sake of animals? I guess I’ll allow it. There were three or four different shelters there, and Petsmart was matching donations to the shelters too!

Now, I don’t know if I just have the face or what, but people know how to suck me in. Olivia was right by the aisle in the back, and she was the only dog not really getting any attention at the time. It was toward the end of the adoption day, so the shelters were really hoping to get the dogs and cats to a good home. After walking over to her, a gentleman walked up to her little pen area. The words out of his mouth? “If you bring her home today, I’ll waive the adoption fee.” Now, the adoption fee was only $35.00, so that wasn’t going to make or break me. Additionally, keep in mind that the shelter named her “Mahaley”. Don’t even get me started on that one.

We went on a little walk around the store. She was pretty timid and skinny. I had asked the shelter about her “story”, how she ended up there in the first place. They had mentioned that she had only been there about a week at the time, and an older couple had brought her in because they had a bunch of other dogs and she was too much.

The adoptions were closing and we brought her back to the volunteers. They kind of just took her back without asking questions. My heart broke a bit right then, so I said that I wanted to pay the adoption fee for whoever ended up taking her home. I walked outside for a bit and talked it over with the other applicable party. Adopting a dog always came back to the same things: I work a full time job; I would be traveling for work coming up…the list went on and on. However, those reasons would never change. Was I really going to wait until I didn’t have a full time job? Would I stop traveling? No. There would always be a reason not to do it, but no was the time to actually do it. Thank you to the Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter!

I turned around, and told them I wanted to bring her home. In line, waiting to purchase a leash and collar for her, I thought of the name “Olivia”. A lot of people who meet her ask if it came from Scandal. For the record, that is not where it came from. Rachel Brathen, AKA Yoga Girl, has a best friend named Olivia. They live this beautiful life in Aruba, and I just really liked the name. Side note, apparently Olivia was the number one girl’s name of 2016. You’re welcome, world. Additionally, I have seen Scandal since, and Olivia would be quite honored to be named after Ms. Pope.

That first week was rough. There was some alternating of who would do a “half day” and spend some time at home with Olivia while she acclimated. She listened to a man’s voice far better than she listened to mine, which became just a bit problematic when it became just Olivia and I. That has since been changed, but I do have a pretty impressive voice now. If she gets in trouble, I just talk to her through gritted teeth.

I brought her back to my parents’ house exactly five days after she was adopted. We were celebrating my birthday as well as throwing my sister her baby shower! She got along so well with Grace, my parents’ dog. She did really well traveling the 90 miles to and from Woodstock. It was a great start. Once we got back from this trip is pretty much where it became a one woman job.

That summer was really, really hard. There were a lot of days that I almost gave up. I had a dog, two cats, and a house to take care of. I was traveling for work. My sister had recently had her baby. I had a wedding in Seattle. My showers were always really short because I was too scared to leave her alone (with the cat) for too long. She ate five pairs of underwear and two bras.

Then, the breakup officially happened. Let me tell you, Olivia loves me unconditionally. I’ve yelled at her and put her in her crate and was so frustrated with her, but she did not leave my side when I was having a hard time. A huge part of me (in the moment) blamed her for the demise of my relationship. That was just ridiculous! She’s the best thing I got out of it. Now, we’ve started this brand new life in a new home, and she loves it (I hope). We’ve gotten into a routine full of long walks and bedtime cuddles. She is healthier than ever. When we go to the park, she comes back to me when she hears her name (that’s a new one)! The other day, she even jumped into the bathtub all by herself! Usually, I have to fight her for bathtime.

I can’t tell you enough the value of rescuing a dog. My heart has grown a million sizes. When she was adopted, she weighed 24 pounds. She had trouble keeping food down, and she wasn’t retaining weight. She was all skin and bones and her hair was coarse. Now, she’s a whopping 36 pounds! Her hair is soooo soft (Thanks, Purina Pro Plan, for your specialty food).

I originally wrote this post back in 2017 when I had only had Olivia for a year. Now, we’ve been together for five years. She keep me active and I love her so much. Now, she knows this is her home. She knows I am her family, and she has flourished. I blame the rest of the world for telling me she’d calm down once she turned three. Homegirl is 6 now and still acts like a puppy.

Olivia loves her Aunt Gracie! I never realized how “massive” Grace was until I brought Olivia home.
This was Olivia’s first ever picture as Olivia! Check out that awesome Star Wars harness.
We made it to the top of Mount Yonah!
The photo on the right was taken the first week I had her. The one on the left was taken in our new home. She’s a happy and healthy pup now, and I love her more than ever.

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