His name is JJ and I’m in love. I think he is too!
I adopted JJ last week. He is very friendly and affectionate, and he’s still a puppy!
JJ is named after JJ Watt, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and the Sports Illustrated 2017 Sportsperson of the Year. His football resume is very impressive, but to be honest, I named my dog after him, because, like his namesake, JJ is ridiculously strong and handsome.
JJ’s papers say he’s an Australian Shepherd mix, but I have no idea what that mix could be. Perhaps some cattle dog or heeler, maybe some catahoula leopard dog. He’s long-limbed, lean, and narrow-chested, with a gorgeous light brown brindle coat, and a white chest and paws. I’m curious what all of you think, based on these pictures! Speak up in the comments below!
His age is also a bit of a mystery, but he’s very much still a puppy. He’s got big puppy paws, which means he still could get bigger. (He’s about 50 pounds now.) The vet that neutered him pegged him at 7 months in July, which would put his birthday somewhere near the beginning of the year. A vet friend met him and said 8-10 months is probably a safe bet.
JJ started his life out in the high desert, and somehow ended up at the city pound in Apple Valley, CA, a far-out suburb that I drive through on the way to Vegas. I don’t know how he ended up there, but that pound is apparently a high-kill facility, so a third party rescue pulled him out of there, and I adopted him from that third party rescue, after only about a month or so.
But let me step back for a minute.
It took a long time to feel ready to adopt a dog again. In 2016, I had two tragic experiences with dogs, back to back. I adopted my beautiful Maude, only to put her down after four months. Then, I adopted my handsome Rufus, only to give him back two months later.
It was a devastating one-two punch. I’ve always loved dogs, but for a long time after having Maude and Rufus, I couldn’t even think about adopting another dog. Every once in a while I’d look online at adoptable dogs, and within seconds, after finding some adorable pup, I’d close my laptop. I thought loving another dog would just be setting myself up for more heartbreak, and I didn’t want to deal with all that again.
And so it went for almost two years. Then, in July, I went with friends to an outdoor concert. A city shelter had a little booth there, and they had four dogs that they were looking for homes. I met all the dogs, and then went back a little bit later to see them again (I took the look way to the restrooms). While those particular dogs weren’t the right dogs for my home, I left there thinking, for the first time in years, that I wanted a dog. I was ready.
I didn’t want to rush into anything, though. I visited two city shelters (including the one that had set up the booth), just to check out the dogs. At one shelter there was a terribly cute little terrier, that I arranged to meet in the play yard. He was delightful, but the shelter folks really encouraged me to commit right there, and I couldn’t do it.
I also looked at dogs online. I submitted an application to a rescue to meet a dog abandoned during Hurricane Harvey and brought to Los Angeles, but I was denied. (Turns out I wasn’t a good match for him, which is okay.)
Then I found a dog, online, that was available for adoption through the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, and I clicked through to their website, and found a few more dogs that caught my eye. None of which were JJ. I filled out their application, and sent them a nice letter saying I wanted to find the perfect dog for my home, and was very open-minded about the process.
A week later, my phone rang, and it was Linda Blair. The Linda Blair! The Academy-award nominated actress best known as the little girl in “The Exorcist” – you know, the one that gave you nightmares, whose head spun around, projectile vomits on priests, and crab-walks backwards down the stairs.
Maybe I was a little naive, but I presumed Linda Blair was the face of the organization, but that other people actually did the work. Man oh man, was I wrong. Linda is there, in the trenches, every day, all day, working her butt off to save dogs. It’s her passion, her life’s work, and it’s incredible.
Linda and I had a lovely 45-minute phone conversation, and, two days later, I drove out to her rescue facility, in the mountain town of Acton, about 45 minutes away. She has around 100 dogs there, all being cared for by her and a crew of staff and/or volunteers.
Linda had arranged for me to meet four dogs – a couple that I had mentioned on the phone, and a couple that she thought would be a good match for me. They were all great dogs, but JJ captured my attention and my heart. After watching him play with other dogs, I took him for a walk with Linda, a volunteer, and a couple other dogs that needed some exercise.
I spent a few hours at the rescue, and left there telling Linda that I was very much interested in JJ, but that I needed to sleep on it – not because I was unsure about him, but because I needed to make sure I was ready to take this big step.
I woke up the next day and felt very confident. I texted Linda (that’s right, Linda Blair is in my phone now!) and told her I wanted to adopt him.
I went back a second time, and signed the paperwork, and brought JJ home. Adopting from Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation was a really wonderful experience. Linda has all sorts of advice and suggestions to make sure you’re ready to bring home a doggie companion, and provided me all sorts of treats, supplements, and even a little bow tie.
The first few days have been really fun. Training started immediately, and thanks to the winning combo of a smart dog and a lot of treats and positive reinforcement, JJ has got SIT and COME down already, as well as not barging through doors until I grant permission. He’s already learned that he’s not allowed on the furniture, and he’s also not pulling much on leash, unless he sees a squirrel, cat, or another dog, and then he goes berserk with excitement. We’re working on DOWN and STAY, and I’m soon going to start working on the bonding training so that JJ learns to trust and defer to me.
JJ is very playful, loves his toys, and is so sweet and personable. He loves meeting people. And did I mention he’s a licker? He would wash my face all day if I let him. He’s particularly fond of ears.
There’s been a few accidents in the house, but JJ is more or less housebroken, and he gets a lot of exercise when I take him out to do his business. A couple miles of walking every day, spread between multiple walks, and we’ve gone on three longer hikes already – and I’ve only had him six days!
On Sunday we went for a six-mile hike, and JJ loved it, and was chasing lizards and met a few doggie friends. And then he slept the rest of the day.
I’m so excited to share my life with JJ. There’s a lot of good times in our future!
Keep it up, David!
Follow me! I’m @keepitupdavid on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, and I’m on Google+ too! There’s also a “Sign Me Up” box on this page (at the top of the right-hand column) where you can subscribe to receive new posts via email!