Northwest Native: Dog Days: The Story of Flora

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dog Days: The Story of Flora

I've been meaning to post this since I started blogging over three months ago. Today I'm going to talk about our journey adopting our first pup, Flora!

My sister-in-law lived in Thailand for a year and volunteered at a dog rescue there. She and my brother adopted a Thai street dog named Anubis (affectionately referred to as Nubi) from that rescue and he became one of my very favorite dogs. This is me and him a few years ago.

My family and I all started following the Soi Dog Foundation on Facebook. They post pictures of their adoptable dogs as well as dogs they find in critical condition and updates on how their progress is. They also post updates on Thailand's illegal dog meat trade. In case you didn't know, Thailand is pretty rampant with stray dogs, and most people there don't bat an eye at them. They often are illegally captured and smuggled across borders, crammed together in tiny cages on the back of big trucks to be killed and sold as meat. It's heartbreaking.

Anyway, Michael and I liked to look at the cute dogs they posted. We knew we wanted to get a dog once we were in a dog friendly apartment. Despite thinking the dogs were cute and being appalled by the dog meat trade and the treatment of street dogs in Thailand, we figured we'd adopt a dog here. day Michael was perusing the Soi Dog website and laid eyes on this beauty.

We immediately fell in love with her coloring, her amber eyes, her lopsided ears, her waggy tail and her doggy smile. We put in an application to adopt her and were so excited to be accepted! Then came the waiting.

There were other pictures on the Soi Dog website. We looked at them constantly. One day, we found the above picture of her on a Soi Dog volunteer's blog and we were so excited to get another glimpse of our girl!

Dogs can be flown here as cargo, but it's a lot more expensive than if there's a flight volunteer to travel with them. So people who go on business trips or vacations to Thailand or who go to volunteer at the shelter often volunteer to take the dogs back with them. It costs them nothing, flight costs are covered by the adopter. The adopter then meets the volunteer at the airport and picks up their new companion.

We were approved to adopt her in August...we hadn't even moved into our dog-friendly apartment yet! But we moved in in October and secured a flight volunteer for November 8th. Our flight volunteers were with a nonprofit called Greater Good, which is based in Tucson and Seattle.

When the day came, we anxiously waited at the airport. When the dogs arrived, two of them came right out of the crate and got some pets and cuddles. Flora was huddled in the back of her gigantic crate looking so tiny. She didn't want to move. Not for food, not for water, not for anything. We ended up having to wheel her in her crate to the parking garage. Well, the giant crate wouldn't fit in my little Honda Civic assembled. So we spent probably an hour trying to calm her and coax her out. We got her in the car, took the crate apart, and got it in the trunk.

She was so nervous! She hid between the couch and the trunk, slinking back farther whenever you approached her. We spent most of that evening alternating between trying everything we could to get her to warm up to us and just ignoring her and trying to let her take it all in. Eventually, we picked her up and put her on the couch with us. You can tell she's nervous in the below picture, but she's also fascinated--she had never seen a TV before.

After we put her on the couch, she didn't move an inch. When it was time for bed, we decided we should just leave her and make sure to have the bedroom door open. (The bedroom door is right across from the couch, so she could see where we were.) The next morning when we woke up, she was exactly where we left her the night before. We felt so bad that she was so scared!

She ended up warming up to us pretty quickly. Definitely quicker than she did to the apartment. Eventually we picked her up and put her on our bed. (Yes, our dogs are unbelievably spoiled and we let them sleep with us.) For a while, she wouldn't go anywhere but back and forth between the couch and the bed. It was like she was pretending the floor was lava. She still doesn't like to go into the kitchen (I don't blame her, it's teeny and cramped!) but other than that she goes everywhere in the apartment now.

It melted my heart to see her learn what dog toys were so quickly! She fell asleep with a toy a few times within her first week with us.

We took her to my brother's house so he and his wife and their dogs could meet her. She wasn't a huge fan of the other dogs. She warmed up to Jen pretty easily. Jen is a major dog lover though, and she's really patient with them and knows how to act around all sorts of dogs. She took this picture of Flora leaning in to get a treat and it's one of my favorite pictures of her! (It's really hard to get the right lighting for a good picture of her.)

These next few pictures are from our first big outing with her. We went to Discovery Park in Seattle (if you watched The Killing, that's the park where they found Rosie's body...except the place they filmed it in Vancouver looks nothing like the actual park). We also had a mini heart attack moment because Michael slipped and dropped the leash and she kept walking. Thankfully, she came back to our calling and treat-bribing. We weren't sure if she would since we hadn't had her very long yet!

Flora's first snow! This happened to be on the first anniversary of our engagement, February 8th, 2014! Before we went out to dinner, we took Flora out to experience it. (And let me tell you, walking to dinner in heels this night, up a fairly steep city block, was no picnic!) This is one block from our apartment and we were probably outside for five minutes total, in case you were feeling bad for her. (A couple walked by in the short amount of time we were outside and made a very loud remark about how cold she looked in an accusatory tone, so I just wanted to assure you we are not horrible dog parents if you were thinking the same thing!)

And now for a photo dump because I'm sure my commentary is getting tiring or if you made it this far maybe you just skimmed and only looked at the pictures anyway!

I have no idea why someone left this little eight week old pup outside of the shelter riddled with fleas and ticks, and how she then lived in the shelter for two years before being adopted, but I'm so glad she's ours! She's still pretty terrified of other people and dogs. We can't walk her down the street and have strangers stop to pet her. It's not what you immediately think of when you think of a dog, and sometimes it's tiring. I honestly always pictured having a dog who loved to run around at the dog park and let strangers stop and pet her. Flora does not fit those criteria, but I wouldn't trade her for anything!

I'm linking up with Holly for Waiting on Wednesday! Make sure to come back tomorrow for the story of our second dog, Tully! (Or if you hated this post then maybe stay away until Friday. Ha!)

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  1. i LOVE reading how people get their dogs! mine is a rescue! such a story about how you got flora with a great ending!

  2. Omg you definitely saved her life!!! How amazing that you got her from Thailand?? Awe it makes me happy that she has such a good home.

  3. Aww, what a sweet PUP!!!! There are so many pets that need adopting, I love stories like this!!!

  4. I love Flora!!! She is adorable!!! It breaks my heart how many sad stories there are about pets everywhere. SO glad she has the best home ever now.

  5. Aww so cute! So sad the way her life started out, but I'm glad you and Michael got her!

  6. Awww..what a sweet post and a sweet pup.

  7. Mattie! This is such a sweet story. Thanks for sharing and shining a light on international adoption! That is so cool she came all the way from Thailand to join your little family. What a lucky girl to have you guys!

  8. I am loving this post! I am such a huge advocate for adopting dogs. That is the only way my family has gotten them in the past and I would not have it any other way!

  9. Oh my gosh, what a great story! It sounds like you had to go through so much to get her, but I love that she has a loving home now! I can't wait to read the other story tomorrow:) And I don't think you're a terrible dog owner for walking her in the snow -- my dog loves snow and refuses to come inside haha!

  10. You're right! She & Niko look like siblings!!! He was just as scared the first night we brought him home - and he'd already been in the US for a couple of years (but not loved enough :( ) and was still terrified. So sweet - so glad she found you guys!!

  11. She's beautiful! Even when they have issues, you still love them! We have one too. We adopted her from a shelter here, but she was brought in as a stray. She was terrified of men (still is), hats and boots. We have had her for 9 years and she still has trust issues, but I wouldn't trade her for anything. She is my companion and protector. I'm glad we could give these dogs a safe place to call home.

  12. This just warmed my heart to no end.
    Bless that babies heart on that flight over & coming to a new home. But she's so beautiful now & I know she feels like she's hit the jackpot.
    The love of animals is just so special.

  13. Awwww Flora is so cute and I love that you guys gave the gift of home and family to a dog from Thailand. How special!!!

  14. Flora is so cute! So neat that y'all adopted her from Thailand!

  15. She's so cute!! Good for you guys, adopting her like that. I'm sure you guys are going to be awesome parents!! Best of luck! xoxox, Kayla

  16. This truly makes my heart swell reading. I'm so happy and proud you saved one of the Soi dogs. I follow them on FB stop and it's so incredibly sad the things they do to animals in Asia in general.
    Your girl has such pretty eyes and a beautiful smile. You guys are so blessed. Such a positive story, thank you so much for sharing. ;)


  17. Everything about this post - Flora's story, her pictures, you guys - everything about it is SO uplifting. Thank you for sharing. What an amazing journey Flora has had to be in your life. She is a beauty!

  18. What an awesome story! I've never heard of being able to adopt dogs from shelters like that. I'm pretty disgusted by your description of what they do to dogs though :(. She looks super sweet even if she's a little timid. :)

  19. Wow! What an amazing story! I didn't know you could adopt dogs from other countries! Flora is so beautiful! I love her sweet little face! She looks a lot like my pup Pax! I write about my dogs Pax and Kota a lot on my blog Thanks so much for sharing!

  20. That is SO awesome. Love the story and she is so, so pretty.

  21. Wow, your pup had quite the journey! She is so lucky to have you both and your patience!

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