So, just over a month ago, one sunny Saturday in Oklahoma City, we picked up an awesome little rescue dog at one of PetSmart’s adoption events. I had been stalking dogs all around the country for months, trying to decide exactly what we were looking for and who would fit in with Susa and Andre the best. After we had been in Oklahoma City for a couple weeks, I started looking into the local rescues, shelters and foster programs in the city. Soon enough I found a couple rescues that took their dogs to PetSmart on the weekends and had a majority of smaller dogs.
That particular Saturday, we were running some errands all over the city and needed some cat food at Pet Smart, I knew one of the rescues would be there, so it was partially intentional that I wanted to take a look at the dogs, and MAYBE leave with one. We walked in and basically straight to the cages and runs where the adoptable dogs were housed and in the first cage, was Sherlock (then Lilly). She was in a little dog run with a pug-chihuahua mix and a dachshund-chihuahua mix, both hyper and young. Sherlock was white, scruffy, calm and quiet and when I bent down to pet her she looked so sweet and unconditionally loving that I didn’t really need to look any further. I had always wanted a terrier (or a dog that looks like one) and she was the perfect size, exactly the same size as the cats.
I asked someone if anyone knew anything about her and by chance one of the foster parent’s kids was volunteering at the event. Our main concern was how she would get on with cats and she said that she ignored them completely, then I asked where she came from or if they know anything about her and she just said something to the effect of “she was dumped at the clinic I work at” – which I assume must have been a vet clinic. She was busy and kept walking off so asking questions was a several stage process, but eventually I got everything in. She informed me she doesn’t really bark, seems house trained and probably had puppies at some point in the last year or so. Then she asked me if I wanted to hold her, I was wary but finally willing to get somewhat attached, She licked my face and was so sweet and light, there was no way I could leave there without her.
I had recently realized that I’d never gone so long without a dog as I had since my last dog of 13 years died in 2011. Well before I could walk I was surrounded with blue heelers, dachshunds, and occasionally wolf hybrids and pitbulls and since I’ve always loved animals, they were a major part of my childhood. I got my last dog, Chena, soon after graduating high school at 18, she went with me everywhere, even to South America, and was such a great friend. I really missed having that. Ross wasn’t as excited as I was about getting a dog, but he hadn’t grow up with them like I did. I knew I had some convincing to do. I put Sherlock back in the dog run so we could talk about it and it was soon enough decided – It would make life, and traveling a little more complicated and sometimes more expensive, but it would be worth it.
We went to do the paperwork while Ross hung out with our soon to be dog. I was worried at some point they would ask about our home and suddenly deny us adoption because we travel like we do and live in a 5th wheel. I knew it wouldn’t affect how much exercise or attention she would get, but I didn’t know what assumptions they would make. I had seen so many times on small dog rescue websites that they do home visits and insist that you “must have a yard” for many of the dogs, but the process went without a hitch and we were on our way!
What is she?:
When we got her home we started to notice things we hadn’t noticed before, like her terrible smell (apparently never bathed by the foster home) and that she had been spayed just a couple days before and . The hair on the bottom of her body and legs was heavily stained by pee and even after a bath the smell didn’t go away. The cats hated her stink, but Susa was curious about her at least. Andre found her offensive overall and we knew her smelling like a toilet wasn’t helping the transition.
We took her to another PetSmart that had a grooming opening the next day. The sign on her cage had said “Cairn Terrier” and since I had never met one, I said “sure”! but when we were given her paperwork from the vet, that said “Wheaton Terrier”, again, I said “…ok, sure” – but when I looked both dogs up and neither was a match, we were out of guesses. The grooming place asked me for a breed on the phone and I said “well maybe you can help. Some kind of terrier mix I guess?*”.
When we arrived, the groomer immediately said “Westie and Chinese Crested” – not that it ever crossed my mind but when she said it, it seemed somewhat obvious. She has little floppy ears in cow print pattern, not much of an undercoat (but not thin either) and some really thin hair on her spotted little head – in fact her entire body is pretty much leopard print. We asked her to cut off all the pee stained hair and give her a good wash. Unfortunately she only did one of the two after having her for hours and instead just cut her face to look “cute” rather than remove dead yellow fur. I spend the next day learning how to cut a dog’s hair myself, but she was starting to smell better at least.
*I actually ordered a dog DNA test, in the true Sherlock spirit, and we’ll know for sure soon enough what she is. We could keep guessing… but, I want to know!
We also discovered right away that she didn’t know a single trick, command, or word that most dogs would know by her age (whatever that is). She could walk ok on a leash but would suddenly stop walking for no apparent reason, maybe because of the strange surroundings, and she was holding in her pee and poo for a very long time. When we first got her, we left the store and went to Home Depot. I walked her along a median and she went pee – but that would be the last time she would do anything for 36 hours!
We went on a ridiculous amount of walks, those first few days (as you can imagine). I should have tracked them with my phone because I’m pretty sure it was at least 10 miles. My legs were sore, her feet were sore and there was no more pee or pee than before. We started to worry but she finally went -then it was another 24 hours til the next time and so on for the next month. She gradually got more and more comfortable with where was a “good place to go” – now, it’s mostly wherever, which is a major relief to everyone.
This “poo related incident” partially inspired her name. It had been days since we picked her up and we still hadn’t named her. She was starting to respond to Andre and Susa’s names so time was becoming a factor. I came down the hall from the bedroom, saw her, cocking her head at me, waiting for me to speak, and I imagined how cute she would look with a top hat on her head (Sherlock doesn’t wear a top hat (often) but it still made me think of Sherlock Holmes). I had been thinking of author or character related names and with the whole terrier thing, something English seemed appropriate. I told Ross, who responded with “No Shit, Sherlock”, painful amounts of laughing were had, and the collaboration was complete!
The current Sherlock:
Since all that initial adoption anxiety, she has learned a lot. Even with my confusing many ways of saying stay: “hold up, listen, wait, stay and hey” all of which she knows the meaning for pretty well now. She also knows “walk, outside and go potty” now – So strange that a dog would not even know the word “potty”, but she finally caught on and will go pee almost as soon as I say it. She’s starting to understand “hungry, treat and food” and doesn’t beg for our food, which is nice. I haven’t started with sit, lay or any “fancy” tricks but will pretty soon. There hasn’t been an immediate need.
She goes on hikes with us on the weekends and is surprisingly agile for a small dog. She’s not afraid of anything (except some large dogs) and loves to chase furry little animals. She’s not a fan of direct heat and will run from shaded area to shaded area to keep out of the sun unless we’re walking under trees. She will walk into lakes and streams several inches and drink but she’s not so sure about swimming yet. She’s been to a couple live music events, a busy Medieval Fest, and a monster truck mud bog and didn’t mind the crowds or noise.
She loves to play with Ross, he really knows how to wrestle with her and get her excited, otherwise she won’t play with any toys yet. She doesn’t chew on anything, dig in anything, play with other dogs or have any apparent hobbies except itching invisible fleas. She sleeps while we work, and if she wakes, she stares as us with her head tilted and ears up like we said the most interesting thing she’s ever heard. Sometimes she’ll get hyper on walks if I run with her, after a bit she starts to get goofy and barks, snorts and pounces at me. She can run much faster than me and by the end of it I usually have a stitch in my side. She’s extremely snugly and will sit on my lap as often as possible and/or in bed – so much nicer now that she doesn’t stink! (we have her on medicated shampoo twice a week to help with some kind of skin bacteria smell that persists but it improving).
Hopefully we’ll eventually find something she likes to play with. For now she goes on at least 4 long walks a day (thanks to our time flexibility) and prances the entire time, making me walk at a speed-walking pace thanks to her long legs and endless energy. We’re so glad we found her!
*You can attribute that awesome title to Ross’s mom in the UK! 😀