From a Chicago shelter to the green grass of Kansas

German Shepherd mix with a KU jayhawks bone

He’s a Jayhawk.

When I meet new people it usually doesn’t take long for the subject of dogs to arise. That’s due in part to my array of Moo cards, which feature a variety of precious doggy faces (including Charlie Machete‘s).

During a recent happy hour for the Social Media Club of Kansas City, I handed one of my cards to Jen Forrest, another local blogger. Her face lit up, and she immediately began to tell me the story of her dog Cody

She answered my questions all over again in the following Q&A.

Who is your dog and what is his story?

Cody is my little rescue pup (well not so much a pup anymore) – he is some kind of a German Shepherd mix and is around 1 and a half years old. My husband and I picked him out in Chicago at PAWS, a no-kill adoption center. We had been planning to get a puppy for about six months and spent a long time thinking about what type of dog we wanted. Since we lived in Chicago at the time, we thought a smaller dog would fit our living situation the best since we lived in a smaller condo. I always knew I wanted to rescue a dog, but my husband took some convincing.

When we went to the PAWS open house though, we saw “Frankie” sitting in a room with a mom and her son. Although he was a boy (we wanted a girl initially) and was around eight months old (we wanted a younger puppy), we immediately asked if we could meet with him one-on-one. Shy at first, he played ball a little bit and then came to sit on my lap and licked my face. We basically decided that moment he was ours. He was severely underfed and we felt we were just the right family to help him back to health and show him what life and love should be like.

german shepherd mix

What a face!

How did you know he was the dog for you?

While we originally planned to get a puppy, we realized through various discussions that our lifestyle wasn’t suitable for potty-training a puppy. Getting a somewhat older dog like Cody provided some benefits in that he was already house-trained, knew some basic commands, etc. He was also a great size – and since he was older, we already had a good idea of how big he would get (an important factor for condo living). His sweet little face and big brown eyes sealed the deal when he sat in my lap that day.

You had to move shortly after adopting Cody. What was challenging about that and how did you deal?

I was nervous about driving eight hours from Chicago to Kansas City – he had been in the car, but only for short trips to the vet, daycare and grooming. It was challenging to figure out how to transport him for such a long time. He also really wanted to climb into my lap for the first hour – so I had to make a small barricade between the front and back seats to keep him from getting in the way! We made sure to stop every 2 hours though to let him out of the car to stretch his legs, go to the bathroom and keep him from getting too much anxiety and I think that helped the most.

I was also nervous about moving him to a new home after he had just gotten settled in our condo in the city, but I knew he would love all the space and running off-leash in a background.

german shepherd mix in green grass

This. Is. All. Mine!

Now that he’s here, do you think he is a city dog or a suburban dog at heart?

He is definitely a suburban dog! When we first got to my parent’s house and let him in the backyard, he didn’t know what to do. When we started to run around, he literally ran his heart out for two hours. Now, he absolutely loves going outside, chasing his arch-nemesis (the squirrels), and playing fetch. He is a runner for sure, so having a dedicated space to run around is great and the walking trails around the neighborhood have also been fun to explore with him.

Since you’re now working from home, you get to spend the day with Cody. What’s that like?

I really love being at home with Cody during the day. He keeps me company while I work and I think he has really come to expect “going to the office” with me in the morning, which really means going to my dedicated home office space in our house. In the morning, he always runs up there after I get my morning coffee, so I think he likes it too!  I spend a lot of the day talking to him like he’s a normal person.

Does he help you accomplish your work tasks?

Whenever I need a break, he is there to help me relax and refocus. We’ll go outside and play fetch or go for a quick walk if I need a 15-minute pause. Of course, there are times when he’ll bark and I’m not on mute on a phone call, but it’s pretty far and between when that happens and most of the time people will laugh along with me and ask how he’s doing.

german shepherd mix on bed

It’s naptime.

What is the biggest thing you have learned from your experience adopting a rescue dog?

The biggest things we’ve learned about adopting an “older” dog like Cody is patience and dedication. More than that, it’s important to make a commitment to loving and helping a dog unconditionally no matter their past. The shelter really didn’t know anything about Cody’s past life before we adopted him at 8 months and we later learned he has some aggression issues towards men and other dogs.

We’ve taken on the challenge of helping him overcome these issues by working with a great trainer in Kansas City with Beyond the Dog. It’s not an easy task, but we knew also took on the responsibility of helping him when we adopted him. There has been nothing more rewarding than watching him make little steps of progress one day at a time. It takes a lot of patience, and I think that’s the biggest thing my husband and I have learned from Cody. He has probably taught us more than we have taught him!

Jen Forrest is a digital media maven by day and blogs for fun at Girl & Town. She recently moved back to Kansas after living in Chicago for eight years.  Sustained by style. Goes giddy for tech. Master tweetress. Inspired by smarties. Wired for new media. Borderline caffeine addict. And crazy for her German Shepherd mix, Cody.

Readers: Have you ever moved with your dog? What was helpful during that experience?


About crystalwayward

I live with two formerly wayward dogs. I care deeply about the environment, and I think gardening is a revolutionary act.

Posted on September 20, 2012, in Dogs, Dogtography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I love this story! Someone who didn’t adopt the most puppy of puppies, had the dedication to move with him, and is continuing to work on his behavioral problems. Amazing! Awesome! Astounding! More positive A words! Cody is a lucky dude to have found such a family. Thanks for sharing Crystal, and reaffirming my faith in humanity a little.

  2. Thank you so much for profiling Cody’s story on your blog today, Crystal! I had a really fun time with this. Hopefully, it will inspire others to adopt, too. Your photo captions are too funny. Can’t wait to keep reading your blog and run into you again!

    Dogs or Dollars, thank you for such a nice comment 🙂 It made my day!

  3. What a great interview with a really cool person and her dog. I’m jealous about the working from home part though, that would be awesome and I’m sure my pups would love it.

  4. Cody has the sweetest face! I know exactly how it feels to want something completely different than the dog you end up falling in love with!

  5. It was very interesting to read Cody’s story. I am pleased that he has adjusted to his now home in the suburbs. Great photos – he has such a lovely face.

  6. Great interview!!

    I have moved a couple different times with dogs and they always did quite well, the cat’s not so much, but the one time that really had an impact on me was a little over eight years ago when we moved to the house I am in now. It came at a time when I had just recently found out that my first Chessie, Shadowdancer, had bone cancer and she was given about 14 weeks. I wasn’t sure how the move would affect her with her illness, but I was worried for nothing, she walked in and laid down like she had always lived there.


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