(Around) the 4th of July one year ago our puppy Parker was born. I say ‘around’ because even his rescuers could only estimate his age. Living with his mother and four brothers & sisters on the streets of South Central LA, things were not looking so great for this Lab-Boxer-Border Collie mixed family.
Luckily a concerned resident called to a non-kill dog organization and was rescued by two organizations: Hands, Hearts and Paws and START Rescue Team. (I plead you to consider adoptions over breeders, especially if you live in a high-kill area like Los Angeles.)
From the start, he was a ‘project’ for the animal rescues involved, but also to Lloyd and I. Soon I coined the hashtag #projectparker. Filled with every worm, tick and flea imaginable, by the time we adopted him his body thought it was good, but two days later completely shut down. He ended up in the doggie ER for two days, which followed with two months of time in and out of vets offices.
You can read the entire story of Parkers’ rescue and our adoption of him (here), which I wrote about last October.
Since that blog post, Parker has grown to 52+ pounds. He hasn’t been without health troubles, but nothing as crippling as when we first got him. In the morning he is a ball of energy and at night a cuddle bug. At the dog park he is every dogs best friend. He wants to befriend our 10-year-old cat so terribly bad, which has zero interest in him. Yet from time to time we can catch them chilling within arms reach of each other.
We have learned a number of lessons since we adopted him in September, some of which if you have a dog or are thinking of getting one, may be helpful.
Sign-up for Banfield Pet Hospital through Petco. I was skeptical at first, but after a month of crazy vet bills, we were open to just about anything. Banfield is a national animal hospital and through a monthly membership, most of our visits and care are already taken care of. This vet especially came in handy when we were on vacation in San Diego and Parker got sick. Two trips to the closest Banfield office and all of his records were on file, with my LA vet back home easily accessible for follow-up questions.
Give your pets the best food possible. I actually first learned this lesson with our rescue cat, who until we adopted Parker I had her on Iams from Target. I switched her food because I was buying a special brand for Parker at a store called Healthy Spot. I have seen a huge difference in her energy level, coat and even breath. I can only image the long-term positive effects for Parker . We now joke our pets eat better than we do.
If you bring dogs around other dogs, they are more likely to get sick. Many times I would ask my vet why I have such a sick puppy. Even with his record she’d look at me and say “Josie he hasn’t been as sick as other rescue dogs I’ve seen.” Maybe she’s lying, but it makes me feel better. She goes on to remind me that because we take him to the dog park and other settings were there are animals, he has a higher chance of picking up stuff. She explained that it’s like kids, you bring them around other kids they are going to get sick.
Find a Dog Walker. Up until around November Lloyd and I had not hired a dog walker/sitter. Even when we took trips out-of-town we were calling on favors from friends. While I am so grateful to them, I am even more thrilled and relieved we have a highly experience and dog-loving nanny when times get busy or we are gone. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not coming over daily…not even weekly. But it has been so nice to have found someone who not only Parker loves, but we can trust. (Thanks Ella!)
I think it was Lloyd that first fell hard for Parker, finding him on a rescue site online. I crack up watching them wrestle in the living room or cuddle on the recliner (that is getting more difficult as he gets larger).
Parker rests by my foot as I write and read doctoral assignments and reminds me to get out of the house every few hours (for both of our benefit really). If it isn’t obviously, we love our dog 🙂
In close, I offer a photo montage with a couple of photos from each month since we adopted Parker; our little project that has turned into a part of our family we could never imagine without. These are some of my favorites and from the looks of it, he seems pretty happy with us too. I guess turning one means he is not a puppy anymore!
Watch Project Parker Grow!
Happy Birthday Parker!!!
His birthday present this year?! Obedience classes!
I want to give a special shout out to a few individuals over the last year that helped Lloyd and I in ‘raising’ Parker: Mel Judson, Ella Ashwill, Ashley Hall & Mary Guetfleish. THANK YOU!! <3