It’s the first day of a new decade, and I’m looking down at the sweetest furry face you’ll ever see. Sitting by my side as I type, she gently rests a paw on my lap and asks with soulful eyes for her chest to be rubbed… But wait, let me start at the beginning. As some of you know, we were left dogless last year. It was a long year of too much quiet and not enough dog hair. Still, I didn’t want to rush into anything, and so months of scouring shelters and humane societies had ensued. Finally, on the 18th of December (coincidentally, my soul dog Mojo’s birthday) I found new love at a southern California county shelter.
Sierra, as I’ve named her, had been brought in as a stray two days before I spotted her online. Because she was wearing a collar with county tags, she was put on a 10-day hold in order to give the owners time to claim their dog. A volunteer allowed us to spend time with Sierra in the getting-to-know-you area, and she seemed extremely gentle and affectionate. In that first visit, I knew I had found my dog. I filled out a “contract to adopt” should the owners not show. The next day I brought my husband to the shelter. Sierra turned on the charm, wagging happily, jumping up and planting kisses all over his face. Good girl! And so we waited. When no one came for her by the 30th, we were able to take her to her new forever home.
I’m sure you’re wondering what mix of breeds Sierra is—well, I’m wondering too! My best guess is collie or miniature collie mixed with maybe German Shepherd and Samoyed or some other northern breed. Most folks who see her say she looks like a miniature wolf, and many have already asked whether she is actually part wolf. I seriously doubt it, but I do find it ironic, after working and living with wolfdogs all these years and making a conscious decision not to get another one. Sierra only weighs about 40-45 pounds, which is completely alien to us, as our dogs have always weighed in between 90 and 120 pounds. It’s actually quite nice to have a dog I can actually lift for a change! As to age, judging from her teeth, she’s only about a year old.
The shelter had told me Sierra had been brought in and then adopted out this past September. When we got her home, I figured out pretty quickly why that might have been. The first thing she did when let out into our back fenced area was to walk the perimeter checking out spaces between gates and posts, and gazing thoughtfully at the top of the chain link. Although our fencing is high and our other dogs never would have jumped it, we’re not taking any chances. Next week, the fencing guy arrives to attach lean-ins and maybe a bit more height.
As to temperament, Sierra is an absolute love bug. Her mission in life seems to be to spend as much time possible being cuddled and petted. I happen to love that, and she’ll find no shortage of affection here. She also loves to run, and when I took her to an enclosed park yesterday, she proved herself to be part rocket! I believe she’s even faster than my German Shepherd Soko was, which is saying something. I’m also happy to say that she seems to like every dog she’s met so far.
Another bonus is that Siera is already housebroken. Of course she needs training, and that will start today. I expect there will be behavioral challenges along the way, especially as she’s only been here two days. I’m already taking steps to prevent separation anxiety, which I see as a potential issue. She panics in a crate, which we’ll need to work on. But for now, the first morning minutes of 2010 were spent cuddling with a sweet, gentle, gorgeous dog on her plush, comfy bed. I can’t think of a more joyous way to begin the year.