March 15, 2016

A Girl and Her Dogs: Chanta + Douglas + Barbara

I feel this with every new profile we feature here -- there are some amazing storytellers out there and I'm glad we get to share them right in this space of ours.

Today, we're back with a new "A Girl and Her Dog" story and it features Chanta and her dogs who have probably the most creative and awesome names {and hashtags!} that I {and probably you} have ever heard.

You ready for this?

Meet Douglas Rubeus Percival and Barbara Hermione June! 

This trio hails from Seattle and their story is all about persistence, patience and love. It made me laugh and tear and nod in agreement at every sweet twist and turn throughout their wonderful journey together.

Dog folks and non-dog folks alike, I promise this is a story you will want to read and hold close to your heart. 

There is a dog for every person and a person for every dog. Chanta and her partner Adam have met their dogs and their dogs have really truly met their people. And their becoming a family came with the help of a former loyal companion. 

Here is all about Chanta and her dogs, Douglas and Barbara. 

The Girl: Chanta Chhay
The Dogs: Douglas Rubeus Percival and Barbara Hermione June. We identify Douglas as a lab/terrier mix and Barbara as a labradoodle. 
*Douglas is a lab/terrier mix according to the shelter but we thought at one point that he might be lab/pointing griffon so we sometimes say he's a "Griffindor".
We're also unsure of Barbara's breed. The owners who gave her up thought labradoodle (she was originally purchased off of Craigslist) and the Community Animal Welfare Society (CAWS) where she thought maybe mixed with a pointing griffon but her hair isn't very wiry at all.*
Chanta's favorite snack: Oh this is too hard! It depends on whether I'm at work or home and I often will snack on the same thing for weeks or months before moving on to something else. For example, at work (Wing Luke Museum) I am loving honey tangerines because it's easy to grab at the produce stands in the neighborhood. The salmon musubi from Uwajimaya is also terrific. At home, I love a good cheese and cracker plate with a fruit spread of some sort. And anything dark chocolate. 
Douglas and Barbara's favorite snack: Douglas is always following me into the kitchen (my own fault as I've given him several treats in the kitchen after a meal), especially when he hears a rustling of packages. He LOVES apples. If he hears me slicing an apple he'll come running and will sit at my side and wait. My partner recently discovered how much Douglas loves frozen peas too. 
Barbara ate everything in sight the first few weeks with us. I think it was just part of her adjusting to everything: new state; new home; new family. She wants everything Douglas eats except for rice. She loves to chew on hooves and bones and anything peanut buttery.
 From: Seattle, WA
Find them on Instagram: @oinkoinkfatty  (and their hashtags are #dougnbarb #barbaraourbeardedlady and #weeklydouglasportrait)
Their story:
Oh where to start? Not gonna lie, having two dogs is a lot of work. But they bring so much love and laughter with their very unique personalities and oftentimes neurotic behaviors that I wouldn't change a thing. My partner, Adam, may say otherwise! Seriously though, Douglas and Barbara are at the center of everything we do and make up the other half of our little family. We are coming up on Barbara's 1 yr adoptaversary in a few weeks. It's been a long journey and I'm happy to say that she and Douglas are perfectly cordial if not yet best friends. Our first dog helped us to better prepare for sharing our lives with these two unruly rascals!

A few years ago, we had just lost our 8 yr old rescued terrier mix #ToddAlbusFranklin to bone cancer. We were completely heartbroken. Our house felt empty and everywhere we looked there were reminders of Todd. I was uncertain how we would get through the loss of our first family member. I started looking at rescue sites and local shelters and knew we had to adopt another dog who needed a home. It felt like betrayal at first, and a bit selfish as we wanted another furry family member to help fill the void, but I'm so glad we persisted and met Douglas! 

I found him on Petfinder. He was listed as Rufus and was apparently a stray that the Pierce County Humane Society picked up. A couple was already meeting with Douglas when we arrived but we waited just in case it didn't work out. Twenty minutes later we were called in to talk to the vet before being introduced to Douglas. She shared his health history, which included epileptic seizures, and suggested that he needed strict rules and discipline due to his hyper activeness. I believe his paperwork said his manners were non existent. We met Douglas in a windowless room where he was busy rooting through a bin full of toys. He plopped right on Adam's lap and we knew he would come home with us. He adjusted within several weeks. He just needed a home. He needed to be with people. He needed his daily morning and evening walks and lots of swimming. He just needed a chance to be a dog. 

Douglas had several seizures his first year with us and they never ceased to be frightening. However, the seizures became less frequent and he hasn't had one since Barbara has been with us! I'm thankful that we didn't let the vet's warnings deter us from adopting him. His stubborn doofiness helped us through our grief. He brings so much joy, even to strangers, and makes everyone smile. We love him dearly and can't imagine life without him. 

While Douglas is wonderful with people, he's socially awkward with dogs. Male dogs always picked on him when we were at the park so we stopped going. Even though he's with Adam all day every day we wanted a pal for him. I found Barbara on Instagram - she was June then. She was in Utah and had several homes before arriving at the Community Animal Welfare Society (CAWS). Her owners were unable to cope with her high energy and high prey drive. We thought that these were manageable as we worked through the same behaviors with Todd. We drove down to Salt Lake City Friday morning with Douglas. The dogs met Saturday afternoon after an initial strong reaction Barbara. She spent the day and night with us in a hotel and we drove home Sunday morning! I know they shouldn't have been in such close quarters for a 13 hour drive but we got home with only minor incidents and a couple of "what are we doing?!" moments. 

The transition period of bringing in a new dog was at times frustrating as I so desperately wanted Douglas to be happy. She had snapped at him a few times so he was understandably cautious around her. In addition to their relationship, Barbara's high strung energy and aggressive behavior towards other dogs were added stress. Adam has been Barbara's primary walker and trainer - she's very much a daddy's girl - and she's improved leaps and bounds though it would be hard for strangers to tell. 

After 11 months together, Douglas and Barbara have become buddies though nowhere near what I hoped it would be. For now, they swim together. They hike together. They charge the door together when I get home. They nap together often. They play tug of war. They chew their bones together. We have a full house with these two and we love every minute of it. Well, maybe not every minute of it. 

Thank you Chanta and Douglas and Barbara!
You can see more of the life they share on Instagram at @oinkoinkfatty.

Photos via Chanta. 

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