My dog Jewell, a lovely labrador retriever

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I grew up with dogs. When I was 18 months old we got Shiner, a huge black lab that my then 4-year-old sister named because he “shined in the sun.” He was a powerful dog, and my parents used to tie the sled rope to his collar, put my sister and I on the sled and throw the stick for him while he towed us, shrieking, around the yard. It took that and more to tire him out everyday. When I was 14 we got Lucy, a petite border collie who was so completely focused on her “job” of fetching the tennis ball, that she only made eye contact with you to make sure you knew the ball was waiting to be thrown at your feet. When I went to college, I always looked forward to coming home, both to see my family and to see Lucy. There’s something so genuine and pure about a dog’s love and companionship.

After graduating from college, I worked several years of seasonal jobs that had me moving from state to state every six months, living in temporary housing or out of my car. During that time in my life, I would have loved a canine companion but many of the jobs I worked were not compatible with dogs.

Finally, after moving to Colorado and securing a job that had a more consistent M-F 9-5 schedule and a living situation that could support it, I was able to start looking for a dog. I didn’t look for long. A friend mentioned that he knew a woman who was trying to get rid of her old breeding dog – well trained, but too old to produce any more puppies. I was interested. I went to go meet Jewell on a Saturday morning. When I arrived, her owner handed me a leash and a bag of food and that was that. Jewell was mine.

The first few months were rough. After seven years of breeding, Jewell didn’t have any interest in other dogs. In fact, she was fairly hostile towards any dog that approached her, baring her teeth and giving a warning snap here and there if they got too close. But as we spent more time out on trails, and as she became accustomed to my boyfriends dog Bailey, also a female lab, she got more comfortable interacting socially with other dogs. Jewell has many funny little quirks and in many ways is a bit of a basket case (that’s what happens when you have 7 litters of puppies in 7 years, I imagine) but our life together is pretty great. She comes to work with me several days a week, we go trail running and hiking, I take her to the river and she has a great backyard play buddy in Bailey.

I highly recommend dog rescue. While it’s hard to argue with the downright sweetness of an 8 week old puppy, there are many older dogs out there that just want to be loved. If you have the time and energy to invest in making them feel comfortable around humans and other dogs, you can give them a better life, one that they absolutely deserve. I love Jewell with all my heart.

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