Max is the best dog we have ever had. He’s also a former shelter pet. Becoming parents to a shelter pet can be an adventure. My boyfriend and I adopted Max, the Old English Sheepdog in December 2019. It was a decision we made within moments of seeing his picture and it changed our lives forever. Here are a few things we have learned from adopting our big lug, Max.
Have patience with your new pet
Max was 10 months old when we adopted him. He was skinny and nervous. He definitely did not know what it was like to be a pet. The first month was tough, as it always is with any new pet. First, he didn’t know what to do with his toys and he was pretty reclusive. He was scared of new floors, the elevator, and didn't quite know what those furry cats that lived in our house were. He absolutely hated the crate with a passion. He was completely obsessed with water and would gulp down an entire bowl in one sitting. All of these behaviors made complete sense. Max was found with over 50 other dogs in a sad hoarding situation. It took him 3-4 weeks to become acclimated to his new life and begin to come out of his shell. We had to have patience with him and him with us.
Big dogs think they’re lap dogs — no matter their size Large breed dogs may not be able to curl up into a ball in your lap, but that doesn’t mean they won't try. The cuddles are endless with our gentle giant. Every morning without fail, Max jumps into bed between us to cuddle for up to an hour before starting the day. As crowded as our bed may be, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
You’ll share your furniture willingly Max is like another human in our household. The couch is his, the bed is his, and when he first got here, he thought anything on the counter was his too. He would put his paws up on the counter and look at us like he was about to start cooking dinner. He is hilarious. Max has learned the manners of counter surfing and now only does so when he is certain no one’s home and can get away with it. He is sneaky! We installed cameras to watch these little antics while we are away.
Separation anxiety is real but can be handled
Because dogs are pack animals, they see being apart from their families as a bad thing, and separation anxiety is a common problem. We learned pretty quickly that it was hard to leave Max for more than an hour without him howling, getting destructive, or even worse, hurting himself.
The frustration felt when you can't leave your dog is immeasurable but it is not an impossible obstacle to overcome. After reading up on canine psychology and getting some amazing tips from professionals in dog behavior, we found many useful tricks and conditioning methods. We gave him puzzles to figure out and high value toys and treats to hunt down so that he would associate our departure with something fun! He eventually looked at our leaving as a game and was much more relaxed over time. We suspect that he still doesn't like when we leave, as short a time as we try to ever be away, but he has matured and gained the confidence to be alone without tearing the house apart.
They turn heads wherever they go
From questions and comments like "How much does he weigh?", "What kind of dog is that?" or "That's a BIG dog!", a big boy like Max gets a lot of attention on walks, outings, and even car rides. It’s always fun to see how many people are excited to meet a giant, fluffy dog. Big dogs like Max become the center of attention wherever they go, and they manage to put a smile on everyone’s face with their even bigger personalities.
Put in the time and you will have the best dog in the world
We hadn't had Max long before the pandemic so when the world shut down we had even more time to spend with him. There was ample time to train him and for him to train us on what he needed to make each other happy. We were as consistent as possible, but we made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot through our trianong. Fortunately, Max is forgiving and learns quickly.
We got cabin fever a few times and decided to take Max on multiple roadtrips across the country. This may have been the best thing we ever did! Max LOVES the car and is crazy about road trips and exploring new places with us. He has visited 22 states in less than 2 years! If you haven't traveled with your pet, I highly recommend it!
You can't buy love, but you can adopt!
We see Max as another member of the family and the time we put in to caring for him, training him, and just being there for him has made our bond so strong and his personality more human like. Adjusting to another family member is a transition and pets and humans alike have quirks and preferences. It’s all in how you mesh your lifestyles with your new family member that makes the difference. The time training, caring for him, taking him on trips, and simply learning how to fit him into our lives has made the adventure of adopting this big guy so worth it! We cannot imagine our lives without him!
Ready to adopt?
Big and small, HSNT has them all! Whether you're ready for a giant pup, or a pet more on the small side, adopting a new best friend is so worth it! Visit www.hsnt.org/all-pets to view all current available pets!
Pets and People, Saving Each Other™
HSNT’s mission is to act as an advocate on behalf of all animals and to ensure their legal, moral and ethical consideration and protection; to provide for the well-being of animals who are abandoned, injured, neglected, mistreated or otherwise in need; to promote an appreciation of animals; and to instill respect for all living things.