It’s almost the 6th year anniversary of when I adopted my sweet, amazing Pup Link from the Oregon Humane Society. The day my life changed forever, in the best possible ways. But his journey to me took much longer than 6 years. I’ve been waiting and searching for him for 30 years.
When I was young all I wanted was a dog. It’s all I talked about. I began bringing home neighbor’s pets, claiming that I would love them more and take better care of them than their humans did. Which was probably true, but I still had to return them to their families. Luckily these families saw how much I loved their pets, so rather than call the authorities they paid me to hang out with their fur babies! I worked in pet care through elementary, middle, and high school just so I could spend time with all the animals possible.
When I was a teenager I thought I would be ready to get a dog after high school, but once I got into my 20s I realized I worked too much and moved around too much to give a dog the care it deserved. So I (not so) patiently waited, doing anything possible to spend time with dogs. I worked at veterinary clinics, & doggie daycares, volunteered in shelters, participated in dog training & behavior classes, and played with every dog that would allow me to. I even worked at a portrait studio where 40% of our clients were pets.
And then one day, while I was volunteering as a dog walker at the Oregon Humane Society, I saw him. He was slumped over in the back of his kennel, looking away from the passing crowds. I watched as people said hello to the little dog on his left, then pass him by with a sideways glance, and move on to say hello to the little dog on his right. “That good boy needs a walk,” I thought. I went to the back of his run and read his card. His name was Fritz. He was from Walla Walla and transferred to OHS as part of their Second Chance Program. He had been adopted recently, but after only 6 days he was returned for “behavior issues”. I walked into his kennel and he walked over to me, his head down as if he wasn’t fully convinced I was taking him out. He reminded me of Eeyore. I could almost hear him say, “Thanks for noticin’ me.” I instantly loved him.
We walked the trails behind the shelter. He walked slowly by my side and didn’t sniff much. He barely acknowledged other animals. He just kind of Eeyored by my side. We spent our maximum allotted time outside, and when I brought him back to his kennel I sat with him for a bit. He didn’t seem to care if I was there or not, but when I got up to leave he lifted his head for the first time and looked up at me. So sad, and so cute. I could feel what he was telling me. I locked up his kennel, went into the office and said “can you give me all the info you have on Fritz and put a hold on him please?”
The next day, the day before Thanksgiving of 2014, I took my partner, Brendon, to meet him. We walked into the meeting room and a volunteer versed us on Fritz’s issues and how the adoption processed worked. Then she left to get him. We were so anxious. We didn’t know if we were ready for a dog, or if he would even like us. He came into the room, and just as before he was calm and somber. He barely sniffed around. He greeted Brendon and I, and then as the volunteer was talking about his aloofness, Fritz laid down at Brendon’s feet and fell asleep. The volunteer stopped talking, and we all knew, Fritz was our dog.
We signed papers, bought the necessities from the shelter store, and took Fritz home. He was so small and wide-eyed on our drive home. He cautiously settled into his new life, and we named him Linkavich Fritz Bowowski. Our missing Link.
Over the next few weeks we worked on his separation anxiety and other fear based behaviors. Then over the next few months we worked on his dog socialization skills. He was friendly, but was a ruff player and got agitated quickly. We came to learn he had a pretty ruff first few months of life. He was separated from his mom and litter mates too early so his social skills were lacking. He was thrown from or hit by a car as a puppy and as a result had to have an entire row of teeth removed and has permanent hip & joint damage. His first adopter left him home alone for hours in a new environment, with a new dog, without any acclimation process, which resulted in his return to the shelter. It didn’t help his mental situation, but it did bring Link and I together.
He’s come a very long way. And continues to learn and grow every single day. From a shaky, anxious Fritz to a bossy, goofball Link. I am so proud of the man he has become. He has more friends than I do, deep sleeps on the couch when he’s home alone, loves car rides & going anywhere with his humans, paddle boards, swims, runs, leaps, plays soccer, and chases lizards. He lives his life to the fullest.
In 2013 his kennel card read “His handsome face and endearing personality will capture your heart and make you ask yourself how you ever lived without him”, and today I totally agree. How did I ever live without him?
Counter Clockwise: (top left) Fritz’s shelter photo 2014, (below) a month after adopting Link 2014, (below) his first yard 2015, (bottom left) his favorite activity 2018, (bottom right) playing with his best bud 2019, (top right) being a total stud at the dog park 2020