So, who remembers Cricket?! This adorable little fluffball came into our shelter as a county stray. We don’t know her history, but she broke all of our hearts when she arrived one cold November day. Cricket had severe mange and was missing more than half of her thick black fur. She was covered in sores from scratching her itchy skin incessantly, and she was freezing! Despite already having a full shelter, this little one had nowhere to go and we couldn’t turn her away. She was brought in before open hours whilst we were still cleaning the shelter and we scooped her up in a towel and settled in a kitty kennel whilst we finished feeding and caring for the shelter pets, then it was straight into a medicated bath for our newest little girl! She was so pitiful but loved to be held. Before we were able to get a skin test to be sure whether or not her mange was contagious we would suit up in gloves, an overshirt, and an apron to snuggle her and put soothing ointment on her skin.
Over her first week at the shelter Cricket was of course on special medications from the vet for her skin but she also got lots of soothing baths and ointment applied several times a day. She was missing so much fur that she wore a little sweater 24/7 to keep her warm!
Cricket was only in the shelter for ten days...some of our wonderful supporters came in and simply fell in love! They couldn’t resist the sweet little pup who followed everyone around and sat on your feet the moment you stood still, who loved to be held and would go limp in your arms like a contented baby.
Cricket (now Maxi!) went home with Josh and Brianne in her little plaid coat, and she’s been spoiled rotten ever since! She has the sweetest doggie sister who she adores and gets to go on lots of adventures with her family. This is how they describe her - “She is the sweetest, funniest girl you’ll ever meet. She loves to nap and give you the best hugs! She still thinks she’s the size of a puppy, even though she’s 77 pounds. Her and her sister Bella love to play, especially in the mud. She also LOVES car rides and running with me! We couldn’t imagine our life without our baby girl and we are so thankful for you guys and all that you do for the animals in Madison County!”
However, it wasn’t just her name and her home that changed for this sweet girl. After a few weeks at home she started to grow her lovely thick black fur in and stopped itching altogether, and was so much happier. But the first time she came back for a visit, none of the staff recognized her. She had grown, yes, but it wasn’t just the 5 ½ months of growth that confused us. It wasn’t even her healthy, soft fur, so different from when she arrived at the shelter. You see, when Cricket came to us, we were SURE she was a little Newfoundland mix puppy. Positive. She had the great big paws, the droopy face, the teddy bear coat, and it sure looked like she would grow to be the enormous size of a Newfie!
But the ‘teenaged’ dog that visited our shelter fundraiser looked nothing like a Newfoundland! Maxi was tall, sleek, long-legged, with a short coat and lab ears. We were baffled! Now, Maxi’s family adore her just how she is, and they wouldn’t love her any less whatever her breed mix may be, but each time we meet we all laugh over how much a puppy can change on the journey to adulthood, and we share her story with many prospective adopters.
You see, often times adopters want to know the exact breed of a puppy they are interested in, and that’s ok. But whilst we understand their curiosity, the struggle for shelters and rescuers is that we often receive dogs and pups with no information as to their backgrounds, and in the case of puppies we don’t always get to meet mama, and seldom dad. We do our best to guess breed mixes based on size, behavioural traits, and physical clues such as coat, ears, and the general shape of the dog, but oftentimes our shelter dogs are mixed from so many sources that we can’t really tell what went into them! We can give a rough estimate as to how big we think they will get, but even that’s not certain.
So whenever you adopt, we will be honest and upfront. We will let you know what breeds we THINK you new dog has in their DNA, but we won’t make promises. We will encourage adopters to be open-minded, and to consider carefully the choice of puppy. If you need to know for sure that a dog won’t get over a certain size, we often encourage the choice of a full-grown, adult dog rather than a pup. And we will often tell you the story of the ‘Newfoundland mix’ pup who was nothing but!
We were right about one thing, though. That dog’s heart is 100% gold. And that’s what really matters.