Our first Good Dog of the New Year hails from Austin, Texas. Marlow and his human Ashlee had a trickier start to their relationship than most. Both had health issues that made choosing the right partner, vital to their well-being. Ashlee knew she wanted to adopt, but was limited by the type of dog she could have. Marlow needed an above and beyond kind of love, care, and devotion, in order to thrive. Their story touched our hearts, and we hope it does the same for you.
Hi Ashlee, and thanks for talking to us today! Once you decided to add a dog to your life, what made you decide to adopt rather than shop?
I started volunteering at shelters early in my life. I always knew that when the time was right for me to bring home a pup, it would be from a rescue. There was only one catch. I’m actually allergic to dogs, and the more hypoallergenic breeds, as you might expect, are not as readily available in shelters. It was going to be quite a feat to rescue instead of purchase a pup, but I knew of course that it was worth it.
I’m so glad you were up to the challenge. How did you find Marlow, and what breed is he?
During my search, I had a few other potential adoptions fall through. I started to get really disheartened. Little did I know, this was all part of the process that would bring me to my perfect match. One night I really started to lose hope in finding a pup via rescue, and almost put down a deposit on a male doodle puppy at a breeder. For hours I went back and forth, feeling absolutely sick over it. Eventually, I decided to just go to sleep.
Flash forward a few hours, and I inexplicably wake up at 4am. I decided to pass the time by browsing my PetFinder app. Lo and behold, what’s the first thing that pops up? A male doodle-mix puppy, located in Texas. No photos were attached but I immediately sprung from my bed, grabbed my laptop, and filled out an application. I knew in my heart that he was for me.
Not everything was smooth sailing from there, however. I got a call the next day letting me know some hard news. This pup had been thrown from the bed of a pickup truck, consequently shattering his back left leg. His owners had then dropped him at a shelter to be euthanized. Luckily, the rescue group had saved him from this fate, but he was still in bad shape. They explained how he would need extensive surgeries and rehab to save his leg and make a full recovery, and I quickly answered, “I don’t mind that one bit. I know this is my boy. Please continue to process my application.” So many people applied for him but, somehow, I was lucky enough to get selected.
Almost 4 years later, Marlow has made a full recovery, and we’re happier than ever together.
Talk about fate! What was your initial encounter like? Was it love at first sight, or something else?
I drove almost 2 hours to meet Marlow for the first time. I pulled into a park, greeted the kind woman who had been serving as his foster mom for a few weeks, and watched as a tiny, pitiful looking puppy hobbled from her feet towards mine. He had on a cone, and his back left leg was completely shaved, exposing a large, stitched-up incision from the first of multiple surgeries he would need.
He was undoubtedly a mess, but once I looked deep into his soulful eyes and noticed that adorable, chocolate-colored nose, I was in love.
Sweet boy. Once you got him home, how long did it take to get him settled?
Getting Marlow settled was a challenge because of two things: (1) he was a puppy, and puppies can be little terrors, and (2) Marlow had an injury that required special care daily. With every hour that I spent doctoring his wounds and teaching him right from wrong, I noticed him beginning to trust me a little more.
Patience and training are the two biggest keys to successfully bringing a rescue pup into your home. No matter how hard it gets, don’t give up. Even 4 years in, I still work with Marlow and notice consistent growth in his confidence and our relationship every day.
That’s great advice. Does Marlow have a favorite toy, or activity?
For Marlow, toys are mostly just a means to an end. He just wants to play, and he doesn’t really care how it happens. For instance, if he brings you a ball and you don’t respond by throwing it, he will then bring you the stuffed pig, to see if that’s more the vibe. This will repeat until either (A) you give in and throw the toy or (B) you have been buried alive in every single toy from the basket.
That being said, he does make sure his yellow stuffed duck ends up in bed with him every night.
Ha, the image of you buried beneath a mountain of squeaky toys! What is the funniest thing you’ve witnessed him doing?
You know how some people dream of having cool, impressive, stoic dogs as pets? I’ve always dreamed of the opposite. I wanted a silly, clumsy, fun-loving pup and, let’s just say be careful what you wish for, because I got the weirdest one out there.
Take this for example: When you give Marlow a treat, he will immediately take it to a rug, section of carpet, misplaced shirt, or any other piece of fabric on the ground. He then proceeds to throw around, paw at, and roll/lay on said treat for, I kid you not, 20-30 minutes before he will even begin to try to eat it.
I also caught him sitting upright in my mom’s lap on a swing like a human child a few weeks ago. He was fully enjoying it. Strange, strange pup.
Having seen how big he is, that image is hilarious! Other than providing your mom with a swinging buddy, how has life changed since adding Marlow to the mix?
Adopting a dog was the best, yet most life-altering decision I have ever made. Nothing is the same. Some things are harder, but everything is better. The sacrifices you make with your time and money are replaced with things that are way more important. Marlow cheers me up, gives me purpose, and teaches me lessons about life and unconditional love every day. Because of him, I’ve been introduced to a whole new circle of friends, volunteer and work opportunities, and more. It’s a different life for sure, but it’s a life I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
Anything you’d say to someone thinking about adopting a pup like Marlow?
The first thing I’ll say is please make sure you are ready for the responsibility of a dog before you bring one home. And don’t just pick one because it’s cute. Make sure to do your research on the breed and ensure that they’re a good fit for your lifestyle. Every breed has its quirks, and that’s super important to consider.
Second, there are a lot of dogs in shelters that have an injury or illness, and those are the ones that need you the most. Be prepared. It’s a lot of work nursing them back to health, but the bond you create through that is stronger than you can even imagine. Give the “broken” ones a chance. They will be so, so grateful for another chance at life.
Oh, and one more thing - go ahead and get a bigger mattress... that “no dogs in the bed” rule won’t last for long.