I always had pets in my life. When I first moved to Denmark and lived in a dormitory, I still had small akvarium with few fish, even though pets where not allowed. Coming to Denmark, I had to leave my cat, my beloved sidekick, in Lithuania, with my mom. I will tell about her, in one of the posts, because she is truly a significant piece of my life. But I left her in good hands and I saw her on skype and during every vacation visit.
When I eventually moved into a two room apartment, to live on my own, I needed a pet, but I was not allowed to have any. So, I got a ferret. Something that is just like a cat and a dog, but you can hide it in the closet, if landlord comes by. The ferret became my sidekick, assisting me even in my studies. When I had gained my landlords trust, I was able to bring my cat to Denmark as well.
Unfortunately, ferrets don't live forever and due to horrible circumstances, I lost my cat as well. For the first time in my whole life, I was completely alone, with no pets. I was told, to enjoy that freedom, to travel, to do what I want without having to rush home to someone depending on me. But it wasn't for me. I decided, enough time has passed since my childhood dog has passed and that I am mature enough to have my own dog. I needed a dog.
In 2014 I started searching through all Danish shelters, keeping eye on them for the right dog. The good part about Denmark, there are very few dogs in the shelters. It was good for the dogs, but not for someone like me, who searched for one. I had no social media and had no idea, you can get a dog from abroad. So, I waited. I was determined to adopt.
My soul dog is and always will be from a bully breed, like amstaff, that I grew up with. The smilling breed. But, they are forbidden in DK, so I was lost figuring out what could suit me. I think, that's why, a rescue seemed the right fit, I knew I will feel, when the right one will show up.
One day, seemingly the right dog, showed up in one of the shelters and I rushed, to see her. But you are not allowed to see dogs here, before you are approved for adoption. I was a foreigner, a student, with a job, in a small apartment, in the city. I was not a desirable applicant. Something they were very obvious about. I came home devastated.
That night, with tears in my eyes, I looked into a advertising website, where everyone can sell anything, including dogs. Immediately upon first page, in a corner, I saw a tiny tiny photo, of a puppy. I was in love. I really was. But at the same time I got contacted by a person selling dogs and offered me a puppy. I thought maybe it's a sign. It took me 3 days to figure out, it was a scam, luckily just in time before I transferred any money. But in those 3 days, that tiny picture never left my mind, I even had a dream about that dog. So, as soon as it was clear I am being scammed, I wrote to the kennel, that was selling Josie.
I asked them a bunch of questions, wrote a lot about me and asked if I could pick her up in a week. They offered to first meet her and then consider if I still want to. It was in another city, around 400km away, so I knew, I am not coming back without a dog. She was meant for me and I went to her already with a leash and a toy that looked just like her.
baby Josie. The photos that stole my heart
The kennel has advertised itself as having a 30 years experience in breeding. They breed certain races together in order, to find the perfect, most resilient breed. All of this I just wrote, I am just going to leave, without too many comments. It sounded wrong already back then, but knowing everything I know now, it's even more bad. But anyway, I was focused on Josie.
I was expecting a luxury dog hotel, instead we found a farm, in the middle of nowhere. So much nowhere, that GPS did not know how to get there and I am sure we broke a lot of laws, driving through grass and someone else's property :)
It was a warehouse type building, filled with puppies. All puppies were demanding attention. It was the most heartbreaking, not to be able to take them all home! But, before you get a very gruesome image - all puppies where healthy, social, properly taken care off, with a veterinarian right in there with them, assessing their health and welfare. The kennel had option to watch puppies live. So, despite it being far not what I expected, it was a legal, well taken care of kennel. People where friendly as well.
Upon my arrival, I was informed, that Josie is their favourite and the only dog sitting with them in the office. I was told she is the perfect dog they where striving for, a mix of 4 breeds and all of them are visible on her. French bulldog, mops, beagle, danish/swedish farm dog. They said they would not want to sell her anymore and that it seemed like, I won't be giving up, so they agreed to at least meet. Josie was 4,5 months by then, approaching 5. All puppies are sold before this age. It was pure miracle, that such a perfect dog like her, was the last one left. I decided, it was because she was waiting for me :)
I went into the room with all the puppies, tiny puppies, overwhelmed by the cute faces. In the back of the room, there was a chubby, much bigger than in the photos, version of Josie. As soon as she was let go from the leash, she started flying around the place, like a hyper active bunny. She ran in circles and jumped on everyone. There were several people, everyone came to see if their favourite will be stolen from them. They all called her name, but she had no reaction. I was standing there watching her. My mom, who drove me there, told me in panic that Josie is way too big and too energetic for my apartment, but I did not even listen to her, I was in love.
Josie was running wild, until she passed by me. She immediately stopped and came to me. I remember everything like I would be rewatching a movie. I went down on my knees to let her sniff me. And she did. She carefully examined me, while everyone was quietly and in shock watching this interaction. After inspecting me, Josie licked my face and my hand and stayed with me. She was not running anymore, she was following me. Everywhere. It was obvious, she chose me. She chose me the same as I chose her. There were no objections anymore in selling her to me. We went in, got last vaccine in front of my eyes and were getting ready to travel back. The toy, she got from me, she had in her mouth the whole time, while following me. The same toy will be given to her multiple years after, and I think we still have several heads of that toy, that she loves dearly.
When in the car, Josie became visibly stressed. I had her on my lap, in my arms that chubby meatball and thought to myself - my life is now changing forever. I tried to fully absorb that idea and that feeling. I am pretty sure, that's how mothers feel, when they first get their baby on their chest. It is indescribable.
On the way home, we stopped by a pet shop, to buy more things for her. I got out of car earlier than home, to take the first stroll through neighbourhood. The funniest thing happened. I lived there for years, but did not knew any of my neighbours. After the very first walk home with Josie, I got to know half of them. Everyone wanted to say hi to Josie. Soon after, I knew everyone, through dog meetings in the park.
baby Josie. The first moment in her new home with me
The first evening, Josie was placed in a basket (seen in photo above) and she stayed there all evening and night. I got very worried that there is something wrong. Knowing her now, I know it was big stress, but she is very good at internalising it.
Josie was my bestie, my shadow, from first moment. But Josie was also raised on a farm, far from society and noises, so, the city and the cars, were freaking her out. That's another thing we have in common. I Tried to keep to parks and green spaces as much as possible. While walking through streets, I continuously talked to her, to help her keep calm. She was very happy with other dogs, so, I attended dog playdates daily.
Josie was very good at following me and staying by my side, but she was impossible to get back on the leash. She would not allow that! It was easier to catch her when other dogs where around, but alone, it was mission impossible. That's when I tought her to jump on things, instead of coming to me. When sitting on a stone, she was ok with being put on a leash. I learned early on, that she has strong personality and that her background of freedom, had affect on her. I knew, I will have to guide her through tricks and not rules. She is a very cute diva and will only do things that benefit her :)
She was extremely good dog, not doing nonsence alone at home, not making noise, not being too active. She knew - outside is for fun, at home is for resting. I did had to teach her a lot, I just helped guiding her life, she was a little genius. The only weakness she had was - wooden baskets. She had a fase of destroying wooden baskets. But, it was also when her teeth where changing and she had problems in that area as well, so I was not even mad. It all stopped when the teeth problem was solved.
First year was hard, she was sick a lot and I made quite few mistakes. She was my first born, so, I was learning along the way. But we survived. We survived multiple surgeries and many other things. She saved my life, literally, because she came into it, when I saw no meaning of being alive. I needed her and she needed me, to not judge her and invest in her health as much as needed. That's how it feels, at least.
1,5 years it was just the two of us, until Sjuzi joined our family.
4 Beloved Paws
Josie was the reason, I came back to social media, after years away. I wanted to show off my child. That's how I reconnected with old friends from highschool and got involved into dog shelter news. I started following shelters in different countries, more and more from Lithuania as well. I decided, I was not able to adopt my first dog, I will for sure adopt my second.
One day, as I shared a post about dogs searching home, I received a message from highschool friend, saying, I am doing a great job, re-sharing those posts because no one cares. It seemed silly for me, because it was not a hard thing to do. The next sentence was the beginning of 4 Beloved Paws. My friend said - there are way too many dogs in Lithuania and not enough people to adopt them. I though to myself, there are far not enough dogs in Denmark, but enough people willing to adopt. We joked that we should change that. That joke did not leave my head. So, I decided to try and do it. Josie was my inspiration for everything, she also became the face and logo of my organisation. If you ask her, now with 5 dogs at home, she probably would say she is not happy about inspiring me and misses the days with less noses at home. But I know for sure, she can't imagine life without Sjuzi, so, at least she got a wonderful sister out of that :)
Since the beginning Josie was the most patient and understanding dog to all the fostering. She is the one I take with me, to meet new foster dogs upon arrival. She is the most neutral and respectful dog. Her presence will calm the other dog there, I know I can trust her to help me. She might not like it, but she understands and does her job perfectly.
Josie is still my inspiration for EVERYTHING. She is the reason I always tell everyone - wait for your heart to tell it's the right dog, do not use a list of requirements. Josie truly feels like my truest soulmate. We are the same in so many things, as well as in emotions and stubbornness I feel, like we communicate without words. I always know what she thinks, feels and we just get each other. I love all my girls insanely a lot, but the connection with Josie will forever be very different. She will always be the dog that, not only saved my life, but changed it forever, putting me on this incredible journey I am now on. She completes me.
Josie is the fun foster friend, that foster dogs can play with. She is very neutral and very patient in all aspects of life. She is the only dog that will not push anyone out of the way, to get attention, instead she will wait until you go to her. Perfect puzzle solver. Any challenge or game - she is a winner. Incredibly smart, not to my advantage in some cases. Perfect recycling machine shredding paper, plastic and whatever you ask her, into peaces, for easier disposal. Doesn't like the rain, terrified of fireworks. Up for any kind of training at any time and learns quickly. A bit too hysterical when ball involved, but manageable if treats are used. Perfect photo model, ready even by the smell of camera in the room. Will not come to you, but will watch from afar and wait for you to get her, to show that you love her. Little gremlin with gas tank in her behind. Smelly gastank. A plush teddy bear, the most comfortable to carry around and snuggle, she will feel boneless and very happy with you smothering her. Her snorring is my sleep to sound.
There are so many moments I am so proud of my girl, specially when around other dogs. It always feels like we have something more special between us, than the others do with their dogs. She is truly, a one of a kind being, that I would love to keep forvever with me :)