By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff
As we celebrate the holiday season, we're thankful for the many hundreds of people who have given a PAWS cat or dog their new start in a loving, forever home. People like Gabrielle, who adopted Barnabas in March of this year.
What made you decide to adopt from a shelter versus purchase from a breeder?
I've always felt very strongly about adopting animals as opposed to purchasing from a breeder. The two dogs that my family owned were, unfortunately, from backyard breeders. Both had severe health issues and it was very difficult for us all.
One of my favorite quotes sums me up well; 'Saving a dog may not change the world, but for that one dog its world changes forever.' I’ve had people tell me I'm not going to make a difference, but for every animal I help save, I make a difference to them. The difference between life and death.
How did you first hear about Barnabas?
My friend was looking to adopt a dog. She asked me to help look online, and I stumbled across this handsome Pit Bull type dog. I had just lost my previous dog, an 11 year old 170lbs Saint Bernard, to bone cancer. He was the ‘man of the house’ so to speak, and it just seemed incomplete without that once he passed on. The timing was perfect.
Can't see Barnabas playing with his toy? Try watching on YouTube instead.
What was it that most attracted you to him?
I adore Pit Bull type dogs. They have so much love to give, and they get so much hate in return. At first, the thing that attracted me to him was his looks. A solid, but kind faced dog.
When I met him, he was aloof. The volunteer told me that Barnabas had had a lot of visitors, but none clicked. I understood that he didn’t think this meet and greet was going to lead anywhere. It was hailing, he was cold and just wanted to go inside.
When the rest of my family came back that afternoon to finalize his adoption, the look in Barnabas’ eyes when he saw we came back was the saddest and yet most touching thing I had ever saw. He didn’t think I was coming back. I did.
Tell us about your first journey home and how the “settling in” period went.
Barnabas loves car rides, but the journey home was a bit much for him. He clung to me like velcro, I had to sit in the back seat because he was trying to climb up to the front.
Once we got home, he sniffed around a bit and then climbed on his dog bed and slept the whole night. I live right next to a large expanse of woodland area, so I took him for a walk the next morning.
It honestly didn’t take Barnabas very long to settle in. He caught on to the routine very quickly; walks in the morning, followed by breakfast at 8, then a food coma nap, a lunchtime walk, stuffed Kong in the kennel, training and playtime in the afternoon, dinner at 7, bedtime.
I learned that Barnabas does not like kennels. They scare him, so my vet prescribed some anxiety tincture for him to help with that. That has been our largest hurdle. Training has been a breeze, he’s a social butterfly, and welcomes all that come through my door. We are currently working with a Positive Reinforcement trainer to help with his anxiety toward the kennel.
Does Barnabas have any fur friends at home?
I have Lola, rescued from Seattle Humane Society in August 2012 when she was just 8 weeks old. I’m convinced that her energy could power an entire house, and she is extremely toy and food motivated.
I have to be honest, I was a little nervous about the introduction. Barnabas is an older fellow and Lola is a bit rude when it comes to greeting other dogs. She loves them, she just never learned how to greet them in a polite manner.
The introduction surpassed all of my expectations, in the best way!
Lola didn’t rush at Barnabas, and Barnabas respected Lola’s space when she didn’t want to play. It’s like they knew this was the breaking point, if either dog didn’t get along it wasn’t meant to be.
Well, it sure was meant to be because they act like lovestruck teenagers. Barnabas will seek her out just to lay his head on her shoulder. Lola who, before she met Barnabas, was the world’s worst cuddle and introvert, actually enjoys Barnabas cuddling with her.
What have you experienced together since Barnabas came home?
Barnabas snores louder than a bear in hibernation. I swear one of these days he’ll shake the house down!
He knows the word ‘Bath’ and if he hears it he'll promptly hide under my bed. I am currently desensitizing him toward the bathroom. We have ‘parties’ in there, where he gets lots of praise and treats, sometimes even a stuffed Kong. That seems to be helping quite a bit.
I have a young nephew who sometimes comes over, and Barnabas is in love. His paperwork said that he lived with a 1 year old toddler, which is around how old my nephew is. Barnabas will groom him, and share his toys with him.
He hates water, and looks like a small hippopotamus when he swims. If Lola, who loves water more than life, jumps in the lake Barnabas will pace and bark until she comes back to shore. He’ll groom her and won’t let her out of his sight after that.
Barnabas loves tortilla chips. He is usually an extremely polite dog, he won’t stare at you while you’re eating, if you leave food on the ground he won’t touch it, but if you have tortilla chips in your hand you better watch out! The first thing to come is the drool. It’s like someone attached a waterfall to his lips. Then comes the small, pitiful whines and the big brown eyes.
Can't see Barnabas taking a treat? Try watching him on YouTube instead.
How has Barnabas changed your life?
In so many ways! He taught me to never lose my patience. I never yell or raise my voice at the dogs, I am a strictly Positive Reinforcement dog trainer, but arguments between humans happen sometimes. These upset Barnabas so much that he’ll climb into my lap and groom me, like he's trying to calm me down. He'll stay there until the argument has passed.
He taught me that no matter how ‘scary’ one looks, a kind heart almost always wins people over. He also taught me that some people are too afraid to see past the intimidating looks, and that that is okay. They aren’t ready. That's just fear. He taught me that cuddles fix everything, especially when you get to cuddle with your two best doggy friends.
How will you celebrate the holidays?
Lola and Barnabas will get a dog friendly but festive dinner, and have gifts to open. Lola unwraps her gifts herself, I'm curious to see if Barnabas will do the same!
What’s going to be in Barnabas’s Christmas stocking this year?
It's a tradition in my family to hang stockings for everyone. Yes, everyone! I have a stocking made for Lola, and am in the process of sewing Barnabas'.
We stock them with cookies from our local pet shop (the only local one that doesn't sell puppies, I don't want to support that!), and toys.
Barnabas will be getting a dog tag with his name and information on it, because he lost his other one on a hike. Lola is getting a pack of kong squeak tennis balls, her absolute favorite.
Thank you for being an animal hero to Barnabas (and Lola!) Gabrielle—wishing you and all our wonderful adopters a very Happy Holidays, and lots of fun adventures in the years to come!
Find your Barnabas today—adopt.
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