I wish I knew more about RJ’s past, before me, but unfortunately my knowledge is limited. However, RJ’s story and mine is interesting on its own; and, with all the ways we could have missed each other, I truly believe it was fate that brought us together.
Starting with what I do know:
RJ was rescued by a wonderful organization called Alamo Rescue Friends (ARF). ARF is an all-volunteer group that saves impounded strays from San Antonio by providing them with necessary medical care (including spaying/neutering, all vaccines, etc.), fostering them with families in Texas and then transferring them to their New England shelter partners.
RJ was rescued by ARF in March 2013 and brought up to the Humane Society of Chittenden County, in Burlington, VT, in May of the same year: he was four years old. Referring back to our potential to miss each other, I later found out from ARF volunteers that RJ was supposed to come up north, earlier, and would have been brought to the Humane Society of Greater Nashua (New Hampshire). However, RJ had a mild reaction to one of his vaccines and ARF decided to keep him with his foster mother a little longer. ARF maintains RJ faked his reaction to get extra snuggles from his foster family and knowing him and his smart, cunning ways, I totally believe it!
As for me: four years ago I got a job in Burlington and was looking for a place to live. A woman with whom I went to high school was, at the same time, looking for a roommate to live with her in a house she owned: which I learned about via Facebook. I became her roommate shortly after. When I moved in, I learned she had a dog she had rescued a couple years ago, Russell. Russell was the sweetest dog ever and though I wasn’t necessarily a dog person at that point in time, I loved living with him/being around him.
A year or so later, my roommate decided in addition to Russell she wanted another dog, a small dog. She asked me if I would go with her to the Humane Society with her to look at dogs. Before we went, we looked online briefly and that’s when we saw RJ.
RJ (known as Ranger at the time) was described as eight pounds but in his picture he looked about 80 (I’ve always said RJ just looks like a big dog shrunken down). It wasn’t until I saw him in person that I understood how small he was. It was also not until I saw him in person that I believed in love at first sight. It sounds incredibly cheesy, but I actually had tears in my eyes when they brought him in the room to meet us. I knew from that moment that I was definitely a dog person.
To my delight, my roommate decided to adopt him. It was my idea to change his name from Ranger to RJ (which stands for Russell Jr.) and on the way home from the shelter I held RJ in my arms and continued to hold him as we went to the pet store to buy him toys, bowls, a bed etc. I was so in love with RJ and kind of sad that he wasn’t my dog. However, living with him was great and I would take him for walks, play with him outside, feed him dinner and he would even sleep with me from time-to-time.
Fast forward a couple months and my roommate decided she wanted to move to North Carolina. She also wanted to go on a road trip and check out the state, beforehand. She was going to send her dogs to her parents but I asked if I could watch RJ while she was gone. It was during that time that I got up the nerve to ask her what I had wanted to since May: “can RJ be my dog?”
Now, I don’t want to make it seem like my roommate didn’t care about RJ. I know it was a very difficult decision for her, but with her move, having two dogs was not going to be easy. Also, I think she really understood how much RJ meant to me and how much I loved him so she decided to let me pay her for his adoption fee and the items she’d bought for him and he was officially mine.
I can never thank my former roommate enough for giving RJ to me. RJ brings me joy every single day and teaches me a maternal love for which I never knew I had the capacity. He is one of the smartest, cuddliest, cutest little animals I’ve ever seen. I won’t pretend he’s perfect: RJ clearly had a rough past and has serious trust issues. He is very uncomfortable around men (except my boyfriend, Dante, his dad) and can be a bit barky and aggressive around new people: all of which stems from a place of fear. I wish I knew what happened to RJ in his past to make him this way and I wish I could have adopted him when he was a puppy so he never had to experience it.
Despite his shortcomings, however, RJ is one of the greatest things to ever happen to me. I do not regret for one second adopting him three years ago and I feel so lucky that my roommate was looking for a dog when she was. Alamo Rescue Friends described him as a huge personality in a tiny package and that’s exactly what he is. If you’re looking for a companion animal I highly recommend adopting/rescuing over going to a breeder or a pet shop. And, I hope if you do, you find love at first sight, too.