Friday Firesmith – The Dog I Wanted and the Dog I Got

Wrex Wyatt, pictured below on the right, was the dog I wanted. I was Wrex’s foster four years ago and he quickly was adopted by a very nice military couple. I was heartbroken. I really wanted to keep Wrex but he seemed a perfect fit for the new family. I sat in my truck and cried after losing him. Four years later they surrendered him back to the Humane Society for reasons that remain unclear to most. I stepped in and got my dog back. I held onto him for a month to see if he would get along with the rest of the pack, and he did. Wrex was before, and he is now, a dog with manners, and a sense of place inside a pack. Wrex was, and he is, loving and gentle. He’s polite to Lilith Anne, the Queen of the Pack, and he gets along with Tyger Linn, my slightly crazy brindle pit. Wrex Wyatt was the dog I wanted and I adopted him back in February of 2018.

Budlore Amadeus was The Dog Left Hanging. Someone tied him to the awning of the Humane Society building and abandoned him. The rope was too short so Bud had just enough space to have all four feet on the ground without choking. From the surveillance video, the people who left Bud were homeless. They thought they were doing the right thing.

Bud was loud, ill-mannered, greedy for food, and quick to fight. But mostly, Bud was heartbroken because the people he loved were gone, and he was terrified at the place he had been taken to, and he was unsure of me and my home, and my pack. He had the same Street Dog traits Tyger had come into the pack with and I quickly consulted with a professional dog trainer. Give him structure and love, she told me, and you cannot fail. And we humans, as a species, had failed Bud already.

Sometimes, a dog comes by and something in that animal speaks to you. No matter how large of a hot mess he might be, or how much damage he’s taken, or how poorly equipped you are to handle another dog, you have to take this dog in. Labeled aggressive and violent, Bud was not put up for adoption at the shelter, and he was literally on Death Row when I took him. The Humane Society allowed me to foster Bud through their system, and I started a fundraiser to get him fixed and vetted.

Bud and I have seen a professional trainer twice, and she agrees with me; there is nothing wrong with this dog. He’s still a little wild but he no longer is reactive. He no longer is a wild beast when I feed him. Bud has learned to lie down and wait until I tell him he can eat before he goes for his food. He’s learned not to try to steal treats from the other dogs, and he’s learning to explore the property without being right at my side all the time.

Wrex was the dog I wanted, well mannered and loving, sweet and low maintenance, and after four years, Wrex returned to me. Bud was not the dog I wanted, and was everything I did not want in a dog, and was the dog I was least prepared for. I have to embark upon the journey of learning to train Bud, and to heal the wounds inside that humans have inflicted upon him.

Bud was the dog I got. I adopted him legally one month after I took him in. Ever it may bring, Bud’s journey through the adoption and foster system, trying to find a home, ends at the foot of my bed. With the support of a professional dog trainer and encouragement of the people of the Humane Society who happily cheer us on, Bud is here to stay.

I’m going to change Bud’s life. I’m going to train him to be a part of this family. I will never give up on him. Bud is now, the dog I want.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

19 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – The Dog I Wanted and the Dog I Got”

  1. I never miss Friday Firesmith and I always enjoy it, even when I don’t agree with him and even when I don’t really get what the message is. But the best ones are when he writes about the dogs. This guy gets them; like no one else I’ve read. I hope to keep reading Friday Firesmith for the rest of my life. Many thanks!

    • Tim, everyone loves dogs. Some of us more than others. I had to rearrange a lot of things to take Bud in, and he’s a pain in the @ss, but his heart is as true as it gets. The dog loves me and he wants to help. That’s all I need to move forward.

  2. I have had many dogs throughout my life. Right now I have four (and a cat who keeps them in line). Most of them have been strays. A few have wandered up, others have been found on the side of the road far from any home.

    There have been a few purchased pooches, too.

    I have bunked with them to their last breath. I love them all. Even the hardheaded.

    I heard once, “You don’t get the dog you want; you get the dog you need.” Each of them told me telepathically: You need Me.

    They’ve never been mistaken. And I have never regretted it.

    • Bev,
      I think you’re right. Bud was the dog I needed to shake up the pack. He certainly has brought that young dog energy to the family, whether we like it or not! And Bud is hard headed. I knew the first time I saw him he was going to be trouble, and he is. At the same time, Bud is worth it. All of them are.

  3. Good lesson there. Even the most stubborn, ill tempered, antisocial Man can be fixed with the right pack of dogs.

  4. I am fascinated, and have a smile on my dial when I read your dogs names. Maybe I missed some earlier ‘episodes’ where you may have explained where the names come from. I reckon that if pregnant women read your pieces, they could take a fancy to the name ‘Wrex Wyatt’ for a boy child 🙂 Tyger Linn sounds like it could be one of Bob Geldorf’s daughters name; my niece has a daughter named Lilith, (Biblical Adam’s first wife according to Jewish folklore, and the first woman created. Evidently she grew wings and took off, making room for Eve.)
    The origin of Budlore’s name must be ‘another story’.
    We had a black lab once, sadly given up by owners who were downsizing their home. They had six year old Johnny and his mother, they took the mother. I was just home after having our third baby, we had not long lost a beloved dog. A client of hubby’s mentioned Johnny needing a new home, so Johnny (who was blind in one eye) found us. His kennel name had been Daleford St John. He had never been around small children and I was wary, needlessly so. Johnny spent most of his first week with us, not leaving the side of the bassinet where the new bub was, or following the other two children around the house. He remained a dearly loved pooch with us for nearly 7 years.

    • SandG,
      Lilith was my first girl dog and I have always loved that name, so she became Lilith, and later Lilith Anne, for she is the Queen. Tyger Linn got her name because she is a Brindle and because of the poem, Tyger, Tyger, burning bright. Linn means pool in Gaelic, and Tyger, when she was a puppy, was nearly a liquid thing she was so fluid. Wrex arrived as Rex, and I added a W to the name because he destroyed a few things. Wyatt was added because Wrex needed a middle name, and a friend of mine just lost her Best Dog Ever, named Wyatt. Bud was named Bud because I still had my sister’s dogs when he arrived and he made it a six-pack. Budlore sounded cool, I just made it up out of thin air, and Amadeus was his middle name because I had this feeling that Amadeus would rock me.

      All dog names should have meaning and feeling. They know when you call them how you feel. Bud knows his name is magical because he’s the only Budlore there is. Wrex knows that his name is special, too, and at some level, he knows his middle name means something extra. Lilith knows she is the Queen. And Tyger Linn, can feel the poetry in her name, burning bright.

      • Thanks for the explanations…You have no idea how cool a dog daddy name giver you are 🙂

  5. This is a great story. I now have 4 dogs, 3 rescues and 1 from a breeder. One of the rescues is from a Husky rescue group and my first dog in Houston, the next Husky mix from an ex-coworker’s family that couldn’t handle her as a 2 month old puppy, and the third is a Black Lab that was dropped off on my street. The Husky mix is now 2 and a half years old and plays with the Lab who we think is about a year old, while the other 2 Huskies don’t like him. The Lab is the most loving of all of them, I call him too needy because he wants to be in your face 24/7. He has destroyed the blinds in the front window trying to see us outside. I guess he was meant for me since I couldn’t even give him away and has now been integrated into our pack. I love them all and wouldn’t trade them for anything.

    • Steve, when you take in a dog you open your heart. And your wallet. I had a dog that was part Husky and part Chow, named Bert, and he was the Best Dog Ever in his time. I miss having something with some Husky in there but I can’t say I miss the labs, yet.

  6. As others have said, you do your best writing when you are talking about your dogs. I guess because they are such an integral part of who you are and your love for your ‘pack’ is unrivaled. If more humans truly loved, the way you love your pups, there would be no problems left int he world. I admire your commitment to them living their best lives.
    We, too, have had our share of mixed, purebred, rescue and breeder dogs. After a sad experience with an unpredictable dog who suffered from previous abuse, we were advised to go to a breeder to get a Boxer. That dog turned out to be the “Best Dog Ever”! Despite coming with multiple health concerns, she was amazing. The perfect dog.
    After she passed, we adopted an American Bulldog mix who ended up being the new “Best Dog Ever”, but in entirely different ways. Her ability to love unconditionally and to sense when she was needed was extraordinary.
    When she left us, we adopted a Pit-mix. She was the challenge. We got her as a rescue from a puppy-mill. She’d never even touched the ground before. She had no idea about any parts of normal domestic life and was terrified of any and all noises or new situations. It was heartbreaking trying to help her understand that she was safe and loved. When we left the house, she would walk so close to my leg that I was always in fear of tripping. Then I found that she would transform into a totally different creature once we got to the dog park. Other dogs was something she knew! She would suddenly turn into an open-mouth, tongue-lolling bundle of happy energy! Around this time, we also adopted another abandoned rescue, a small dog this time. The little one was just getting used to her new life and was still unsure, when we took the Pit to see her friends at the dog park. As the little one hung back close to me, a Doberman picked her up and began to shake her like a ragdoll. Before I could even react, the Pit heard her from the far side of the park. She was a near blur as she raced across the ground and threw herself, in a solid shoulder check, against the Dob. The Dob dropped the little dog and made a hasty retreat.
    Sometimes the ones that seem as if they are going to be the most work, or are the greatest challenge, are the ones who repay you in the most amazing ways. Since then we have found the Pit to be a dog who believes that ‘rescue’ goes both ways. She is always alert, always vigilant and always loving. She is the perfect dog!

  7. Mike – I had a Pit mix named baby and had her 12 years before she succumbed to cancer. I adored her and she became over protective of me wbecause she loved me beyond reason. When she was 4, While away on a girls weekend, I came across Bucky (who looked much like your Wrex). I brought him home from the girls weekend. He was afraid of men and peed everywhere but I was able to get him housebroken. My son called him the biggest PIA ever. That son became besties with Baby and, over time, wiggled his way into my son’s heart as well as everyone elses. He sobbed like he got dumped by his one true love when Bucky died 8 years later. Me too. I decided to foster senior dogs cause the thought of them living their last days in a kennel was too much to bear. So my foster was Mackey -an 11 year old Basset Hound mix. I describe him as 2 dogs long and half a dog high. He had glaucoma in one eye and such severe achondroplasia that one leg is torqued and he can’t turn the foot forward. When he sees a squirrel he runs off in this lopsided, wonky run that that is so bizarre yet so full of joyous optimism that my heart fills and I laugh my ass off. He is 12 now and I failed at fostering 1 month after he got here. Every night when he climbs the dog-stairs to get in my bed I know that he is home and so am I

  8. “They” say we don’t deserve dogs, but I do believe you my friend, Mike Firesmith , do. I believe you ARE the person your dog wants you to be. I believe you are a wonderful human. Many people would never take a chance on a hardheaded dog, especially if it meant you’d have 6. That says so much about who you are as a person. I’m glad to share the planet with you.
    And about the naming, my dog is named Chaos due to her chaotic behavior at the time I got her, I’ve replaced many sets of blinds, she raised Hell at the vets office, and took a bite out of a flip flop. I still wear it in my yard.
    She was a rescue, I have no clue what her life was like when she came into mine, but she was not socialized a bit.

    • Chick,
      the first time I saw Bud I knew he was going to be trouble. But at some level, who isn’t? Who doesn’t have a friend or a relative who isn’t in some way, a person that if they walked on four legs, would be euthanized? I’m not sure how or why Bud spoke to me, but something clicked and here we are.

      Blinds and dogs. I’m telling you, there are some stories in there.

      Chaos and Bud have a lot in common, I think.

  9. I know this is going to sound odd, but that sentiment is very similar to what it feels like to be the parent of someone with special needs. It is precisely why we can’t pass judgement on those with them. It isn’t so much what they can do for us, but what they bring out in us. They help make us more human.
    Great column.


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