It was love at first sight for Harlequin Romance author Jackie Braun when she went to a rescue shelter and met Pascal/Pip
While growing up, I had a big, loveable mutt named Adam. As an adult, I always assumed if I ever got a dog, it would be the same sort: oversized and of dubious parentage.My husband had other ideas. Last fall when we started talking about adding a four-legged friend to our family, he told me he wanted a “hunting dog,” preferably one that came to us as a pedigreed puppy.
But I was adamant that a rescued dog was the way to go. So, I started my search online looking at the photos of way too many homeless animals at local shelters and rescue operations. I didn’t want a puppy. They are a lot of work and I wasn’t kidding myself about who would be doing the heavy lifting. I also didn’t want a small dog. Too yappy. Medium-sized would be good. Something I could pick up when necessary without throwing out my back, but nothing I’d worry about stepping on. Most importantly, I wanted a dog that would be good with our two boys.
Well, Christmas came and went and a couple of contenders were scooped up at local shelters before I could convince my husband to go see them. One was a purebred German Short-Hair whose owners could no longer care for him.
Then destiny stepped in.
In January I was working a novella for an anthology titled The Billionaire’s Matchmaker, which will be released next month by Entangled Publishing. The other stories in the book are by Susan Meier, Shirley Jump and Barbara Wallace. All four of our novellas feature a match-making Jack Russell terrier named Charlie.
One day while doing a little research on Jack Russells, I came across one on a rescue site. I knew from the research that the breed wasn’t for me -- too small, yappy and hyper. But the site did have a possible contender, a 2-year-old, medium-sized coon hound that I thought might pass muster with my husband. I called. The lady I spoke to gave me a little background on the animal and, unfortunately, it became apparent the dog’s temperament wasn’t a good match for my family.Then, she mentioned Pascal, a miniature poodle rescued from a breeding operation.
I know what you’re thinking. A miniature poodle? That’s about as far from a medium-sized hunting dog as you can get. And aren’t those dogs yappy and hyper? Well, she assured me that this little dog was very docile, calm and quiet. So, a couple of days later, I took my boys to the shelter to see him.
What we saw was eight pounds of shaved, shivering canine wearing a little fleece jacket. While the woman on the phone had told me he was 2, the woman at the shelter said they weren’t sure of his age. They thought maybe 8—8!—based on the condition of his teeth. (Our vet later put the dog’s age at about 4 years old.)Anyway, it was love at first sight. Two, 4 or 8 years old, it didn’t matter.
And being love at first sight, I didn’t bother to call my husband. I simply signed the papers and paid the adoption fee to make Pascal ours. We renamed him Pip (yes, from Great Expectations) and brought him home.
It became clear right away that Pip wasn’t housebroken, nor had he ever been on a leash. Doors terrified him. He wouldn’t go in or out of the house. He had to be carried over the threshold both ways. (Good thing he’s so light!)
For the first few weeks, he was lethargic. He didn’t bark or make any sounds. Mostly, he just lay in his little bed, looking adorable, if pathetic. He was terrified of everything and everyone…well, except for me. He bonded to me right away and became my little shadow, tugging on my heart as he followed me everywhere.
My reply was: “We all have issues in this family. He fits right in.”
The first time Pip played with the toys we bought him was a victory. We’ve logged many more victories over the past several months as Pip has come out of his shell. He walks on a leash now, and goes in and out the door like a champ. He lets my husband and boys pet him without cowering or trying to run away. He will even eat from his dish in the kitchen when people are in the room. He used to rush in, grab a bite, and rush out to devour it elsewhere.
Even my husband can’t imagine life without our little dog now. When we took a trip out of town over the summer, he called the kennel several times to be sure Pip was okay. (Manly man that he is, I overheard him tell the person who answered that he was calling on his wife’s behalf!)As I write this, Pip is tucked into his bed next to my desk, looking up at me with the big, brown eyes that first melted my heart. In a way, that matchmaking dog from my novella is responsible for this match too. “Charlie” led me to the website where my little dog waited. So, just like Mia and Gideon in my story, I’m grateful for his assistance.
I urge anyone considering getting a dog to check out local animal shelters first. And keep an open mind when it comes to breeds, size and age. “Pre-homed” pets like my Pip might come with a bit baggage and require extra patience at the beginning, but they are worth it in the long run.
Jackie Braun is the author of more than 30 books. GREEK FOR BEGINNERS is out now and THE BILLIONAIRE’S MATCHMAKER is available in October.