If you want to read part one of Bill’s adoption story, you can do so here.
The day I finally tracked down the elusive, stray Westside pooch, I took him to our vet to get scanned for a microchip. When that was a dead end, I called Chris and BEGGED to bring him home. He eventually agreed, but we were both nervous about the prospect of me bringing a new dog into the house while Chris was at work, in case a dogfight broke out.
So because we couldn’t go home, Bill and I spent the day together, getting to know one another. We took a walk at Penn Valley Park and he got a bath and nail trim at Brookside Barkery & Bath. Despite their policy to have vaccination records in order to book grooming services, the staff at Brookside Barkery & Bath was more than happy to take care of this sad, skinny stray I had just taken in off the street—they are seriously SO AMAZING.
That evening, Chris came home and we introduced the two dogs. Cyrus was his usual pushy, dominant self, but we were honestly shocked that there weren’t any real issues between the dogs, besides Cyrus physically blocking doorways and access to us humans with his enormous body…
Eventually we realized there really wasn’t anyone looking for this dog, so we asked The Animal Rescue Alliance (T.A.R.A) if he could be available for adoption through them since we were willing to foster. Because all rescues are desperate for foster homes, and because we met all the requirements, they were happy to help us out!
A few days into his stay with us, I started calling him “Little Bittle” because it rhymed and because he was literally half Cyrus’s size, so he really was little to us. One morning, Chris asked me, “Are you calling him ‘Little Bill’?” To which I replied, “Nope, but I’m gonna start!” And that’s how he got his name…
As Bill got settled into our house we learned SO much about stray dogs, the special health issues that often result from a dog not being properly cared for, and most of all, we learned about fostering! Here are some of the takeaways:
- Stray dogs eat garbage (and who knows what else…). This results in parasites. Deworming a dog isn’t a big deal most of the time, but I didn’t know that. When I saw his poop move for the first time, I was beyond freaked out. And you can imagine my reaction when I saw a tiny worm actually crawl out of his butt and onto our duvet one day… I may or may not have called Chris crying I was so upset by it.
- Bill had either been neglected his whole life then was dumped, or was a stray most of his life. We know this because we found him in December and the vet guessed he was only about a year old, but he had fly strike all over his ears from the hot summer months. He also has, to this day, thick, dark calluses on his elbows, which I can only assume came from laying in the dirt or concrete every night…
- Bill was heartworm positive —another indication that he was neglected or just a stray. We learned about heartworm treatment and how dangerous it is. We took Bill to his appointments and I cried when I dropped him off for treatment and overnight stays at the vet. We hated that we had to keep him separated from Cyrus for a month because elevating his heart rate could have dislodged dead worms from vital organs, killing him, but we did it because we knew the risks. We learned Bill hates crates, so we turned our office into Bill’s room for a month, going so far as to inflate our air mattress in there and take turns having sleepovers with him so he wouldn’t feel so isolated. And finally, we were beyond relieved when his heartworm test eventually came back negative!
Fostering is hard. Once Bill was heartworm free and up for adoption, I took him to adoption events almost every weekend, and nobody seemed interested in him at all. It was heartbreaking and frustrating. How could anyone not fall in love with that sweet face? I’d wonder. A few times I dropped him off at an adoption event but couldn’t stay to volunteer, and I’d hear his cries as I walked away. My heart ached and I felt like the worst foster mom on the planet.
Between December 2011 and June 2012, a lot changed for us. We nursed Bill back to health, bought a house and moved out of our apartment, changed jobs… And all the while, Bill was slowly and seamlessly integrating himself into our family.
Over those six months, we saw an incredible change in Cyrus. He was still reactive on leash, but at home, he was more gentle and easier to manage. He had this amazing little partner in crime who didn’t egg him on, but instead, brought his energy down a few pegs. They played together and wore each other out, which took that burden off of Chris and I to walk/run/bike with him multiple times a day—and everyone knows that a tired dog is a well-behaved dog!
I’ve always said Bill is an old soul. He is sweet, calm, sensitive and loving—a perfect companion for Cyrus whose personality almost demands a calming presence.
One evening in June, I snapped a picture of the two dogs sharing a dog bed—despite there being another empty dog bed next to them—and I texted it to Chris. He responded, “We’re adopting him, aren’t we?” So we did.