Our family has talked about adopting a dog for a very long time. My husband and I had several discussions with our four kids (ages 4-15) to make sure everyone was on board and ready for a new addition. We even tried to get the cat’s opinion, but he didn’t have much to say in the matter. We spent hours researching different dog breeds and reading every resource we could about introducing a new dog to the family (cat included.) I had looked online at Young Williams adoptable dogs and made a list of potential candidates. We knew that we wanted a medium sized dog, not a puppy, but still fairly young. We were searching for our family dog. The dog our entire family would bond with and we would take with us camping and hiking and on future family vacations. My husband and I made several visits to the Center over the course of almost 2 weeks. We played with several dogs, but my husband kept looking at this beautiful 8 month old lab mix named Missy. She was solid black with a very shiny coat. She was not on my list so we never asked to play with her. On one of our visits, we walked in and Missy’s room was empty. We assumed she had been adopted, but when we asked, we were told she had been taken to an off site event and was expected back any time. That moment sealed the deal. My husband was relieved to learn she was still available and told me we were not leaving until she got back. He wanted to meet Missy. That day we spent over 3 hours at the center. We learned that Missy had been there for three months after being surrendered by her owner due to the owner’s health. Everyone at YWAC knew Missy. Volunteers were coming to us and telling us what sweet girl she was. When I asked employees why they thought she was still there after such a long time, the general thought was that she was just a plain black dog. No striking features or coloration. And then I learned that there are a lot of people that have negative perceptions of solid black pets. We left that day talking non-stop about this sweet and energetic black dog. The next day we returned with all of the kids in tow. We had another visit with Missy and everyone was decided. She was going to be our family dog. We knew we had picked a great dog because of the emotional farewell from the YWAC staff. They were so happy she had found her forever home. Missy is now Arya (yes, we are Game of Thrones fans.) She has transitioned into our home very well. She is extremely smart and easily trainable. I have researched and read everything I could find online about training techniques and how to work with Arya on good behavior and manners and I pass all of this information to my children as well. We were originally concerned about our 4 year old getting jumped on by a 42lb puppy until we could get her trained to not jump on people. The training took hours, not days. Our biggest hurdle has been leash training. We are consistent, but she is a wee bit stubborn. As I write this, we celebrate our one month anniversary with Arya. She is such a joy. She loves her daily walks and playtime outside. As soon as we walk back into the house, she immediately transitions back to calm, inside mode. She is very affectionate and would sit on your feet and let you rub her ears all day. I truly believe that she is going to be the family dog we envisioned. Today, my petite 11 year old daughter walked Arya on a leash for a half a mile with Arya walking politely beside her about 90% of the way (she is still learning.) And as sad as I am that this young black lab mix lived in a shelter for 3 long months, I am so happy that she waited on our family to come take her home.
Jennifer Bradley (Arya’s Mom)