Monday, October 10, 2011

Sydney's Adoption Story

Pet's name: Sydney
Adopted by: Deborah Taylor-French
From: Petaluma Animal Services

Deborah Taylor-French sent this adoption story about her dog Sydney, which originally appeared in Redwood Writers 2008 Vintages Voices: Four-Part Harmony.

Punk Rocker Poodle

Inside a chain-link kennel, a dog stared out under dirty white dreadlocks. He locked eyes on me then sprang up, landed, and rebounded as if bouncing on an invisible trampoline, adding a volley of ringing barks. He seemed bent on performing. Was he auditioning for a circus act?

A sign labeled him as a one-year-old, Cocker Spaniel/Poodle mix. The Petaluma animal shelter volunteer said, “Sydney—well, we call him Sid Vicious because he chews on fingers.” Laura smiled at the dog. “He’s a bit of a favorite here. Shall I bring him to the visiting room?”

“Yes, please.” Eagerly, I followed to a small room with a low couch. I sat as Laura released the dog and shut the half door.

Leaning over, she said, “He’s been here three weeks. Isn’t housetrained. His last owner put him in a diaper.” She frowned. “He needs an experienced family.”

“I’ve adopted and trained three dogs and each had three families before the age of one,” I replied, implying I knew how unsettled dogs are from losing their homes.

Sydney raced around the rubbing the walls, body-slamming me in a brash hello. After 10 minutes of non-stop running, punctuated by friendly bumping, he rested on my leg, panting. He revived only to repeat his circuit with longer periods of snuggling.

“Oh. You do have tons of patience,” observed Laura.

I wondered if this wildly wound-up guy could adapt? Our 12-year-old daughter struggled to be patient as months ticked by while I searched rescues and shelters. The next day I visited again. Sid Vicious repeated his whirlwind greeting. Then in an instant I knew I’d won his trust. He plopped onto my lap and covered my arms with kisses. Could I help him calm down? The shelter vet had labeled him, “A handful!”

The following day, my husband went with me, then we told our teen. “We’re going to get our dog today.”

“Really? Like really?” she kept repeating on the way to Petaluma. Sydney greeted her with licks. In mutual adoration, girl and dog accepted each other as siblings and playmates.

But it wasn’t easy. This high-energy dog’s entry into our lives unsettled us. He cried at night; wet his dog bed, and the floor of his playpen. He smelled like an old dog from having to wear diapers. We took turns tying him to our waists then running him outside every hour. Soon, he was housetrained (when we were home).

If we left him, he wouldn’t drink or eat from worrying he would never see us again. Homecomings were rock concerts of blaring yaps, yelps, and tail-beating. Sid stood, front paws on the wire of his puppy pen, grinning, barking, and swinging his hips in a tail-swishing hula. Once set free, he did his impression of Snoopy’s happiest-dog-in-the-world boogie. If our dog had been a first grader he would have made it clear he liked to do all his coloring outside the lines.

Being a vocal guy, Sydney blogs about saving dogs’ lives and dog lovers’ sanity at Dog Leader Mysteries, where he writes “Sydney’s Spot.”

Being part Poodle, he was hard to outsmart. In lessons at Unleashed with Charlie Reinhart, he met his match. Sydney wanted to please and loved tasty snacks. He earned his Canine Good Citizen certificate and an adoption discount at the shelter.

Sydney had earned his nickname by behaving outrageously just like his namesake, Sid Vicious, the bass player who dressed with flaming style but whose musical talent was questionable. The lack of musical gifts never stopped either the man or the dog from singing. Sid delighted in making a noisy fool of himself whenever meeting or greeting a friend or family.

Our Punk Rock Poodle’s ear-squashing squeals, off-key yodeling, singing-in-the-shower imitations demand center-stage. When he is pleased to see you, you have your hands full of him, rubbing, wrestling, and singing. His show-stopping act full of rude yelps and barking hysterics haven’t stopped. Years after adoption, our superstar continues to greet us at full bounce with ringing shouts of, “You’re home. Oh goody, you’re home!”

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!


  1. Hi! I just found your blog and I love reading these great write ups and happy stories about pet adoption! I have started a social network for pet owners called Pet Bytes It may be beneficial for you to make a profile for your blog and/or a personal account to get the word out about your blog and the pets that need adopting! That way you can blog, post events, post listings and send personal messages to members :)
    Here's the link if you decide to join:

    Also if you'd like, you can post any animals that need adoption under of "listings" tab.

    I wish you all of the luck!

  2. What a firecracker that Sydney is! He was a handful but with time, training and patience, you've now got a 'heartful!' Thanks to you and your family for giving him a loving home.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.