Reese: A Gentleman and a Scholar

An Almost Home Dog Rescue Happy Tails Story –

About a year and a half after welcoming Sammi into our home, (read her rescue/adoption story here) we felt that she was in need of canine companionship. We didn’t take the prospect of bringing a second dog into our home lightly. In order to ensure that we could give a second dog a good life, we evaluated our finances and our lifestyle to make sure that another dog could thrive in our home. Although we were certain that we could make this work, we still erred on the side of caution and decided to foster a dog to make sure that we could handle two at once. We turned to Almost Home Dog Rescue again to help match us with another furry friend. Although we are big advocates for helping black dogs and raising awareness about Black Dog Syndrome, we had a different perspective this time and decided to inquire about Almost Home’s most urgent cases. When we asked about which of their dogs most desperately needed a home at that time, the answer was Reese.

Although Reese was rescued from the shelter, (the same exact shelter from where Sammi came!) he had been living in a kennel for the a few months. The Almost Home volunteer who had been looking after him, Colleen Campbell, explained to me that he was scared and distressed living in the kennel. Also, there was a concern that he might lose his manners and other positive qualities the longer he was in there. Reese is just a downright handsome dog. It’s as if he is part Boxer and part Jon Hamm. His striking features are big, soulful eyes and a super long whip-like tail. So, why was this sweetheart of a dog still living in a kennel? He was labeled as being “male aggressive” and skittish around children. His Almost Home profile suggested that he might do best in an all-female home with no children. That automatically narrowed down his list of potential adopters, and Reese’s forever home remained elusive as a result.

I can’t explain why exactly, but my instinct was that there was more to Reese’s story. As a legal librarian, I felt like I wanted to do my due diligence and really research his history to understand how he came to be labeled this way. After speaking with Colleen from Almost Home and the foster mother he had for a few weeks, I pieced everything together and came to the conclusion that this pup had just gotten mislabeled. To use another librarian reference, it’s as if Reese was miscataloged and then shelved in the wrong section of the library. His so-called “male aggression” was a one-time occurrence when he was being walked late at night and a male emerged from the dark and startled him and the person walking him. That was it. As far as him being skittish around children, well, so am I to be quite honest. The best test was to meet him and see how he interacted with me, Josh and Sammi.

It was a hot day in August of 2013 when we drove to the kennel not too far from our house with Sammi in the back seat of the car. Colleen brought Reese out to meet us and he was full of energy. We met in a play room so that we could let the dogs go loose and see how they interacted. However, the first thing Reese did in the room was jump up onto Josh’s lap and gave him some kisses. His long tail was whipping frantically as he put his paws on Josh and was clearly happy to see him. Any residual fears we had about Reese’s possible male aggression melted away right there and then. Sammi was thrilled to play with another dog and quickly jumped on him. They frolicked; all the while Colleen assured us that what they were doing was normal dog play. Then, tired, they both just stopped and plopped down where they were and caught their breath. They just chilled out and waited for the humans to give them some direction. This was an excellent sign that they got along and that sealed the deal that we would be taking him home. The plan was just to foster him until he was adopted. After one day at our house, maybe two, there was no question in our minds that we could ever let him go.

When I asked his former foster mother to describe Reese for me, she said the word “gentleman” came to mind. Reese was simply a gentleman. He didn’t scratch or whine to go outside to potty. Rather, he will sit on your lap and stare at you intently with those big brown eyes as if to say, “Pardon, I need you to take me to the outside loo.” When it’s meal time, Reese will sit down and straighten his back. He will sit very still and tall until the kibble is in his bowl. He’s a scholar in the sense that he knows a lot of words and commands. He just seems to understand you when you talk to him.  You can see it in his big brown empathetic eyes that he just knows what is going on.

Josh’s aunts crocheted him a cardigan sweater because he is very sensitive to the cold. He is always so happy to wear it that it’s hard to get a photo of him in it because he is wagging his tail very hard with glee when he has it on!

When I wrote to Almost Home to give them an update after we officially adopted him, I wrote that he is truly a gem. I don’t want to think too hard about why his owner gave him up in the first place, or why nobody else wanted him when he was up for adoption. I’m grateful that he waited for us to find him so that we can have our little gentleman and scholar in our hearts and our home.

Jon Hamm photo source:
                   Separated at birth?
(Jon Hamm photo source:


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