Adopting Gavin, an Animals for Adoption Dog

Adopting an Animals for Adoption Dog (Gavin) is Helping Our Daughter Handle Her Anxiety
By Sharon Cuartero


As owners of three cats that keep us plenty busy and fulfilled, adopting a dog was never part of our long-term family plan. That is until I began volunteering at Green Chimneys and heard through the grapevine that there were shelter dogs available for adoption through their Dog Interaction Program with Animals for Adoption.


“Someone told me that Green Chimneys has some dogs looking for homes but I told them no thank you, we’re cat people,” I remember telling my husband one evening. My hus- band looked at me and then looked towards my daughter who was playing in another room and said, “Why not? A dog might help with her anxiety.”


A week later I met the current dogs enrolled in the program including Gavin, a two-year old Labrador mix. I was immediately drawn to his gentle and playful nature. He was also on the quieter side and a little reserved, qualities that I thought my daughter could under- stand and relate to. A few days later, my husband and daughter met Gavin and it was love at first sight. We were officially going to be dog owners!


During the week between meeting Gavin and taking him home, my daughter expressed her excitement but also some concerns: “I’m worried about bringing Gavin home because I only know how to take care of cats.” , “What if things feel different with a dog?”, “Gavin is a lot bigger than our cats. Can he hurt me?”


Her worries seemed to fade during the one-hour and a half drive from the shelter to our house as a nervous Gavin quietly snuggled next to his new junior companion. “It’s okay, Gavin. Don’t be scared.” I heard my daughter whisper, “You have a home now.”


It’s been three weeks since Gavin joined our family. Helping him adjust to his new home has required an abundant amount of patience and energy as we began the process of bonding and getting to know our newest family member. There have been moments, especially during the first few days where I, as the primary caretaker, felt completely overwhelmed. It is during these times that I think about what occurred a few days after Gavin came home. My daughter had a particular tough day at school and came home sobbing and very upset. Gavin immediately knew something wasn’t right with his favorite playmate. He approached her carefully, offered some dog kisses, and quietly stayed by her side until she calmed down. We’ve also noticed that when she falls down or gets hurt, he immediately goes to her with his tail wagging as if to say, “I’m checking in! Are you okay?”


We knew adopting a dog would require a serious long-term commitment and a lot of hard work. Our days now include repeated mad dashes to the door for potty breaks, frequent cat chasing intervention, and continuous correction as to what he should and shouldn’t chew on. With the chaos comes overwhelming feelings of joy and love that come with adopting a dog that needed a family to call his own. Gavin has enabled my daughter to shift her focus away from some of her anxieties and place it on loving and caring for her new friend.


“Mommy,” my daughter said one evening as she lay quietly with Gavin, “He doesn’t seem to say much and gets scared sometimes. I’m like that, too. I think we understand each other.”