August 30th marked 4 years since we adopted Amber, our Standard Poodle. In honor of her anniversary, here’s the story of how she found us.
When we learned that Amber needed a home, most people thought we were crazy to even consider adopting her. I was 5 months pregnant with our first child, and we were spending every weekend (and then some) out of town, caring for my mom who was in the end stages of her battle with bone cancer. I was still working and traveling for my corporate job while attempting to keep Janery afloat despite the upheaval in our lives.
But Ryan and I aren’t like other people, and we trusted our guts. Ryan grew up with Standard Poodles, and when he met me and my four pets, his only request was that our next dog be a Poodle. I thought they were fancy and too serious, but his family’s poodles won me over quickly.
When we lost Charlie in December 2013, she left a hole in all our hearts - and Merlin was extremely lonely. For the first time in his 12 years, Merlin showed signs of separation anxiety. We’d arrive home to find our usually angelic Merlin frantic, panting, shaking, and whining. He even ate through a wooden baby gate twice.
Nearby Poodle rescues wouldn’t adopt to families with kids under 5 or babies on the way. When Ryan’s mom heard from her poodle breeder that a sweet, 1-year-old poodle puppy had been returned by the man who bought her, we were intrigued.
We didn’t really want to deal with a young puppy – the housebreaking, the waking up at all hours, etc. And my rescue-prone heart was already aching for this sweet girl who’d been “returned” after only a year.
When we took Merlin to meet Amber she immediately melted my heart. She was fearful but sweet, and the more we learned of her story, the more I felt that we should adopt her. Amber had been born to an amateur breeder who was unable to sell her. She was then transported to the breeder we met – in the trunk of a car.
Then a man bought her, and called the breeder all the time, complaining about the puppy. “I didn’t know I’d have to walk her.” “Dog food costs $30 a bag!” “I have white carpets.”
I try not to judge, but I honestly can not understand this mindset. To this day, we don’t understand why that man bought a puppy, and we wonder just how he treated her. From the day we brought her home, she was well behaved, house trained, and eager to please - but was terrified (to the point of running in fear) when people reached for her collar.
Despite her fearful nature, Amber fit in perfectly with our family. She was successfully off-leash trained in three short weeks. She and Merlin hit it off, playing and wrestling and making ridiculous noises in no time at all. Through the rest of my pregnancy, she was by my side, and we enjoyed daily 2-mile walks that kept her energy controlled and my health intact.
When our daughter was born, Amber immediately kicked into “nanny mode.” We were careful to always watch their interactions because you can never totally trust any dog and a baby, but Amber was interested and gentle. She could often be found sleeping next to the crib, keeping an eye on her baby. Three years later, they’re the best of friends, and it’s clear that Amber was perfect for a family dog.
She loves to go hiking - a “must” in my world - and is at her most well-behaved when she’s off leash on the trail with me. I didn’t train her to do this, so I’m guessing she just likes to work.
She has her quirks and has had some very unexpected and expensive medical issues, but four years later we have no regrets. We couldn’t have found a better dog to join our family just as we added children to the mix.