Rescuing Josh a challenging task

I think we surprised ourselves when we got another dog right away. Cody had been gone only one week when I started looking at Siberian husky rescue sites.

"Only for fun," I promised my husband.

But the empty backyard and quiet house were too much. I couldn't sleep, so I'd wander the house at night, looking for my dog that I hoped maybe, just maybe, I'd find asleep on the living room couch.

We had a small plaque in our kitchen that my son bought in Texas. It read, "A house is not a home without a husky."

Looking at that decoration every day was my sign. We needed another dog.

I contacted a privately run husky rescue outside Chicago. We filled out the application, gave references and waited for a call.

When we arrived, I felt uneasy. Unlike other rescues, we couldn't go inside to meet the dogs. Instead, a volunteer brought the dogs outside. We met three and picked Josh. A beautiful silver husky, half Cody's size.

Josh was found wandering the streets of Milwaukee, picked up by animal control and unclaimed, soon put on doggie death row. A kind worker called the rescue. And that's all we knew about Josh.

His first night I stayed next to him. But Josh didn't sleep. His ears were pricked, his head up all night. Slowly he adapted and began following me everywhere. I'd never had a Velcro dog before.

But Josh's adjustment didn't last. Three weeks later he bit my dad. Not breaking flesh, just a nasty bruise. But I didn't want Josh sent to Cook County Animal Control, so I contacted the rescue, which recommend a dog trainer.

"He's got to go," was the trainer's assessment. I knew she was right. "I'm warning you. The rescue won't want him back."

I called the rescue and left dozens of messages explaining that Josh wasn't working out. But my calls weren't returned. Poor Josh was constantly pacing in Cody's old crate. I let him out when no one was home, still a sweet Velcro boy. But that was the problem, he only loved me.

When I finally brought Josh back to the rescue, I did it alone. I knew it would be bad. Mean words yelled to me by rescue staff. Ugly crying from me. Josh sitting patiently beside me, unaware. When Josh finally had to leave me, he braced himself. He wouldn't budge. He was carried back.

I drove home and uncorked a bottle of red.

Then my husband began checking the rescue's site to check on Josh. Days later, he was back up for adoption, adopted, returned. Six months later he was adopted again, this time for good.

- Lisa Seplak of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].