Meet Bobby! Our dog adoption story
At any one time over the last year, I could probably pretty accurately tell you the exact number of dogs on the Manchester Dog's Trust website.
We'd been refreshing the website dozens of times a day between us for probably the last 12 months, waiting for our dream dog.
We've grilled every dog owner we know (and some we don't!) about getting a dog, asked thousands of questions, googled hundreds of things, taken doggy pals for walks and signed up for Borrow My Doggy.
We knew we wanted a rescue dog, but we also knew this drastically lowered our chances of being able to get any specific breed, and also increased the risk of getting a dog with behavioural or medical issues, which we didn't feel prepared for as our first dog.
We also knew that our "dream dog" - 1-5 years old, medium/large sized, no huge behavioural issues - would be a lot of people's dream dog, so when a dog we loved did come up, we'd have to move fast and be ready.
But even though we'd be talking about getting a dog for months, we always had a reason to not get one right now. We had the wedding, then the honeymoon, then we both got new jobs in the autumn. So we decided at the start of 2020 we would continue to keep our eye out on the Dog's Trust, but we would seriously start looking after our trip to Barcelona in April.
And then, of course, lockdown started.
We spent a lot of lockdown bemoaning the lack of a dog - with us both at home all day we could spend time with the dog, we could take it on the walks we were going on regularly as our only form of entertainment.
But all the rehoming centres were closed, the Dog's Trust website wasn't being updated and we started to think it just wasn't going to happen to us anytime soon.
Then a few weeks into lockdown, the Dog's Trust website slowly started to add new dogs and unbeknownst to us, one of them would be our boy.
Why we adopted from Dog's Trust
We first visited Dog's Trust Manchester towards the end of 2019. We wanted to have a look around, see some of the dogs that were available and be sure of what our options were as two people who worked full-time.
We ended up visiting a few times before we actually got Bobby, and we knew that in our ideal situation we'd find the dog for us at Dog's Trust. They were really helpful, the facilities were lovely, the process to rescue seemed good, we loved all the after-care and support they offered after a rescue (which was extra important to us with it being our first dog), and they were happy for us to get a dog while working when we explained we would be getting a dog walker in during the day or taking him to doggy daycare.
When it came to the actual dog, we had a few breeds in mind which we were keeping our eye on - we liked spaniels, collies, labradors and any cross-breed of these. We wanted a medium/large dog which was active and up for lots of walkies and running, but more important to us was the dog's temperament.
Dog's Trust were always super upfront with us about any behavioural issues - there were a few dogs we went to see or had calls about which looked perfect on the website (I call it their "dating profile") but in when we spoke to Dog's Trust to get their full profile they had lots of issues which we would have struggled with as first-time owners. We always felt that Dog's Trust had the dog's best interests at heart and were always honest about any concerns.
We had visited other rescue centres, signed up for hundreds of Facebook groups for rescue dogs abroad and looked on loads of other websites, and were open to getting a dog from these places, but Dog's Trust was always where we wanted to get our dog from if possible.
Our rescue story
Bobby (as he is now known!) appeared on the Dog's Trust website on a Thursday afternoon. We loved that he was a lab cross (although he looked much more like a staffordshire bull terrier on the website than he did labrador!), sounded active and fun and was a good age for us. We phoned up to registered our interest and were told he was already reserved, but we would be added to a waiting list. We were disappointed but not surprised.
But then the following morning we received a call from Dog Trust - he was now available and were we still interested? Of course we were, so we had a call about his background to give us a bit more information, including some videos of him, and asked to complete a home questionnaire and send some photos of our house and garden.
(For context, this is not the usual process for rescuing a dog from Dog's Trust, but this is their protocol during lockdown. Normally you would be allowed to visit the dog in person and usually there is a home visit too, both of which aren't possible at the moment.)
After we sent the photos and questionnaire, things escalated very quickly! We had another call in the afternoon to confirm a pre-adoption call the following day, formalise our reservation, and to confirm if we could meet and greet him, and take him home (!), on Monday!
Friday was a bit of a daze, but on Saturday the reality started to sink in! We told both sets of parents and then went straight to Pets at Home to get some essentials. We'd asked how big he was and nobody had an exact figure, so getting everything from a bed to a Kong toy was guesswork, based on freeze-framing videos and guessing how tall things were in comparison! We had an amazing pre-adoption call too which gave us loads of extra information about him, plus loads of tips and advice on what to expect from the first few days which was absolutely invaluable.
At this point too, we still hadn't even met him, so we didn't tell anyone except our parents, and we kept the receipts for all the dog things we bought. We were so scared and excited but also so hopeful it would all work out.
On the Monday we had a call from Dog's Trust to confirm everything again, and at 4.30pm we arrived to meet him. We waited anxiously in the car for him to be brought out.
Then suddenly he appeared and it was love at first sight. Our brilliant, happy boy came over to say hello and he was even more amazing than we had expected! We had brought a long-line lead with us and we were taken to a secure area to play with him. He was a very excited boy with so much energy! Then we were left to play with him ourselves and it was so scary and exciting! I couldn't believe he was going to be our dog!
After half an hour of play we were asked if we wanted to take him home, and of course we did. We signed some paperwork and were told there would be a call the following day to finalise adoption, and then Bobby jumped into our car and off we went!
He was such a good boy in the car, and super excited when we got him home. In fact, we were a bit worried when he wouldn't stay still for 30 seconds the first night! When it was time for bed he cried and barked a little bit (and I had a panicked call to my Auntie who is our resident dog expert about what to do!) and then he settled down to sleep and slept all night til I came down the following morning.
The next day we had a final call with Dog's Trust to confirm his adoption and we paid his rehoming fee and he was our officially our boy!
I have so so SO much I want to say about being a dog parent, and it's only been a week. I'm not sure I was prepared for how exhausting it would be, how wonderful it would be, how guilty I would feel 99.9% of the time and how desperately confused we would be about "doing it wrong", but that is definitely a post (or many posts!) for another day.
For now, I am so so so grateful to Dog's Trust for bringing our amazing boy into our lives. They have been so helpful and continue to be brilliant and our boy is well and truly settled in already! I'm so happy we could give a dog a home, and that he has brought so much joy to our lives already!
Welcome to the family, Bobby!