Steve and I had been casually looking for a dog on all the local Seattle rescue websites for about 6 months when we came across Jackson at the Seattle Humane Society. I left work for an early lunch in October 2012 so I could be there when they opened at 11am. I was the first one in line to see him, and when I left there was someone else waiting to adopt Jackson, who was pretty bummed I beat him there. Thankfully I was able to place a 24 hour hold on him, and then we took him home the next day. (Side note: If you’re looking to adopt a dog from a nearby shelter, and you just know it’s the right dog, I would highly recommend getting there a few minutes before they open to make sure you get to meet the dog first. If you’re looking to adopt a dog through an online rescue organization, I would also recommend applying as soon as you know it’s the right dog for you. Puppies especially get tons of interest, so you want to be the first application the organization sees. But remember to always keep in mind that if it’s the dog you’re meant to call your own, it will happen.)
When we got Jackson he looked like this:
He had chunks of fur missing all over his body, he had a floppy right ear, he had a tick above his right eye, and he was terrified to go up our stairs. In sum, he was a mess. Considering the fact that he was adopted as a puppy, given to the Yakima Humane Society where he was called “Buddy”, then sent to the Seattle Humane Society where he was called “Kellogg”, all in a short 9 months of life…it’s no wonder he wasn’t looking or feeling awesome. But we got him all bathed up, loved up, and this is what he looks like now:
I’m not just saying this because he’s my dog, but I swear to you, he is the best looking dog I’ve ever seen. We get stopped on walks, on runs, in the car, etc. Everyone wants to know what kind of dog he is because he’s so unique looking. When we adopted him, we actually thought he was a Malamute-Australian Shepherd mix. Then we realized right away he had to be a Malamute-German Shepherd mix because of his coloring. We splurged on the $60 DNA test (No regrets there. We used Wisdom Panel 2.0 – the report is very in-depth, and it took about a week to find out the results. You can get one here. Look for a coupon code, we were able to save $10.), and found out that he is an Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd, Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Spinone Italiano Mix. I’m not so sure about the Corgi, but his legs do look short in the right light I suppose.
We’re pretty sure that Jackson was never walked on a leash before getting dropped off at the shelter. He is so unbelievably good with other dogs, but when we walk him on a leash he barks a crazy, loud, terrifying bark at every single dog. Stop and think about that – Every. Single. Dog. We. Pass. Other dogs and their owners immediately assume he’s vicious or harmful. And rightfully so, because his bark is intense. We took him through puppy training at the Seattle Humane Society (which comes with the adoption!), we watched hundreds of YouTube videos, and then when I wanted to stop walking him by myself because his constant barking stressed me out so much, we decided it would be worth it to invest in one-on-one training. We enlisted the help of Tommy at Evergreen School for Dogs. Jackson improved a ton on leash, but the best part of Jackson spending time with Tommy is that he became so much more obedient and responsive in general.
After owning Jackson for a year, his one issue is still that he barks at other dogs on leash. It’s the oddest thing because he’s not aggressive at all. If he barks at a dog and then gets close enough to touch it, all he does is sniff. We really can’t explain it, and neither can the trainers who have met him. It has to be something to do with what he experience in his past. He’s good with people, kids, other dogs, puppies and cats, so if I had to choose an issue, it might just be the one he has. I’m not going to lie and tell you that it doesn’t stress me out when it happens, but we’re working through it. After working with Tommy and getting his professional advice, we finally decided that a bark collar would be the best option for our situation. I know a lot of people are against them, and when used improperly they can be seriously damaging to a dog. I would absolutely not recommend using one without consulting a professional. Seriously. Don’t do it. The best advice we got about it was not to get a cheap one. You want one that will do what it’s supposed to, when it’s supposed to. This is the one we ended up getting.
We’ve had it for about 2 months now, and with Jackson’s bark collar on (we don’t even turn it “on” anymore, it’s just around his neck) when on walks or runs, he is a darn near perfect dog. I look at dog training as a constantly evolving thing that you always have to work on, and we definitely don’t get to slack off with a malamute mix. This boy is smart. But we work with him every day and he has improved beyond belief from when we first met him. He has made our every day life so much better, and I honestly can’t imagine watching a movie without him sleeping on my feet, or going on a run without him.
To conclude this lengthy post, I have to say that if you’ve been thinking about adopting a dog, just do it. Don’t think it will be easy or will come without challenges, but do it anyway. Pet Finder is a great place to start when looking for a dog to save.