Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Going Home: Juniper

"Can I keep him?"
As Lead Storyteller for the Berkeley Humane blog, I'm lucky enough to write about many wonderful animals and their happy new homes. 

Volunteering in this role has led to unexpected opportunities that affect my home, too: while covering the Rescued Dog Pageant at Missouri Lounge this June, I met a sweet, sleepy, adoptable puppy named Cheddar. 

Reader, I adopted him. His name is now Juniper, and a DNA test says he's a Chihuahua-Yorkshire terrier mix. Today is his first birthday and I'm very proud to write his Going Home story.

I am a cat person through and through. My husband and I have fostered nineteen cats for Berkeley Humane (including Felix, whom I still wish we'd adopted ourselves). But, I reasoned, a heart big enough to love cats so much could surely make room for a dog, too. 

Puppy dog eyes
For three years we occasionally met shelter dogs but none were right for us. When we left the house that day in June we had no intention of looking at adoptable animals. But as soon as we stepped into the MAC, Juniper and my husband took an immediate shine to one another.

We fell for his snuggliness, his friendliness to everyone he met (including very small children), and the way he curled up on shoulders to sleep. This cuddliness would not survive a round of antibiotics to treat a cough and some tooth issues, but his friendly nature has only continued to unfold for us.

Five minutes after completing adoption counseling with Berkeley Humane volunteers Celly, Stefanie, and Ming, my husband and I burst trembling into a pet store, confused puppy in our arms. "We need EVERYTHING," we told a helpful clerk. Lesson learned: it's better to prepare for an adoption -- but if the right animal catches you by surprise, like Juniper surprised us, you can still catch up!

He came to us almost perfectly house-trained (still working on that), patient with leashes, friendly to every human and canine on this earth, and extremely fond of napping in laps. He's an active pup with a very sweet nature.

Business puppy at the office.
Obedience class graduate!
To those excellent native characteristics we've added commands like "sit," "lie down," and "heel" thanks to Small Dog Basic Obedience classes at Berkeley Humane.

Juniper comes with me to the office almost every day, where he has many fans. (My boss says "That's not big enough to be a dog-- that's a squirrel.") He's a fan of leashed walks around Berkeley's Aquatic Park and off-leash romps in Alameda's fenced small dog park. 

Isn't it amazing how the Bay Area welcomes dogs almost everywhere? We've been delighted by the places we can take Juniper. From beer gardens to auto shops to comic book stores, so many places welcome him and even provide doggy biscuits.

Dogs and cats living together...
mass hysteria!
Biscuits at Beer Revolution
Our cats Ripley and Raimi have adapted much better than expected. Raimi and Juniper occasionally even play chase and take leashed walks together.
Adopting our first dog has had its challenges. These four months have introduced us to significant changes in our schedules and habits. Reading blog posts like "I Got the Post-Puppy Blues" helped me acknowledge my anxiety and accept that I can feel overwhelmed sometimes but still be a competent, loving new dog owner. 
Besides, he's a loving, happy little dog. Both the vet and doggy daycare staff have said "It's rare for a dog to bond with its adopters so quickly, but he sure loves you!" Maybe that's just flattery but Juniper really did fall hard for both of us immediately. 
He's easy to love, too! I mean, the cats never let me dress them up in Batman costumes. 

Nananananananana BATDOG
Being Juniper's human is an honor. Thank you for my wonderful dog, Berkeley Humane!

You can become a dog's human, too. Stop by Berkeley Humane Friday through Sunday from 11-5 to see which dogs might try to adopt you. 

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