"Ewww, no, I don't want that one," I said when my sister sent me a picture of Scotty, a small scruffy terrier mix sitting at NYC Animal Control.
Well as it turns out, I did want him. And it was the best $125 I will ever spend.
On June 16, 2012 I walked into NYC Animal Control dreaming of a small, female, brindle pittie mix. I walked out with adoption paperwork for Dustin. He is not a small, female, brindle pittie, but the building I lived in at the time did not allow dogs over 25lbs, and he was the only little dog in the shelter. He also happened to be the dog I saw and said, "eww, no, I don't want him."
Animal control was overflowing with dogs that spring. Dustin was sitting in a crate, in the hallway. He did not do too well on his shelter evaluations, and the staff there had determined he needed an experienced home because he was aggressive with dogs, people, and kids.
A volunteer brought him out of the crate without incident and met us in the hallway. The shelter was almost closing to visitors and I only had about 3 minutes to meet him. There was no space for us to go, and there was a larger dog barking at him from another kennel. Every time the larger dog barked, Dustin flinched. The volunteer explained that he was aggressive and would be but down pretty soon. Then another volunteer walked by who Dustin clearly knew. Dustin quickly walked towards him, jumped up for some pets and gave a cute little kiss.
After seeing this, I thought to myself that even if he is aggressive, he does warm up to people and is then fine with them.
I headed downstairs and filled out the paperwork. The woman at the front desk was not supportive of me adopting him, and it was quite the struggle to get approved.
Three days later, on June 19, 2012, I picked Dustin Alexander Lane up from animal control after his neuter surgery. He was still exhausted from the anesthesia and passed out in my arms in the taxi home.
It was over 10 years ago, but I remember the entire experience like it was just yesterday.
Since then, Dustin has been my best friend, partner in crime, and ever-present study buddy. He has come a long way since his days in the shelter. He has more dog friends than a doggie needs, he comes to work once in a while to help me train other dogs, he loves when my human friends come over and is happy to greet people in stores and out on walks. He can come pretty much anywhere with me, except a bar we went to last summer with skee-ball. He was not a fan of that.
Dustin has so many “on paper” accomplishments:
Trick dog Champion
Rally Master Champion
Scent work titles
Canine musical freestyle titles
In “Annie” with a professional children's theater
In short film “Introducing Parker Dowd”
Did work for BarkBox, The Body Shop, and Chicken Soup for the Soul
Performed in front of hundreds of people at AKC Meet the Breeds event at the Javits Center
I feel like there might be a couple other things that I am not thinking of right now, lol
But, to me the more important achievements are how he has become such a happy dog, and feels safe and secure in his relationship with me. All the titles and commercial work in the world don’t mean anything if your dog isn't happy and having fun. Before any run at a trial (competition) I tell Dustin “ok, ready? Do the best you can do!” Because, what more can you ask for than someone’s best?
I'm sure I could have made this blog post 1,000 pages long. But I'm sure we can all agree that no one would actually read all that. So here it is, Dustin's abridged life story. The most significant things can be said in just a few words: Dustin is my favorite boy. I'm a proud dog-mom, and I love him so much :)