by Lee Juslin
McKenzie and Lucas, Westie brother and sister, were living a pretty nice life with an older lady. Despite being legally blind, she doted on her two Westie kids, playing with them and taking them on walks to the park. Then, disaster struck when mom fell and broke both ankles. Cathy, the daughter, loved the two Westies, but couldn’t take them because she had cats and the Westie siblings, despite loving people, were cat aggressive. Fortunately, Cathy did the right thing and called Westie Rescue.
When Linda from Westie Rescue of Austin, Texas met Cathy, it was all she could do not to cry. “This poor woman had so much on her plate. Her mother had recently moved and had hardly been in her apartment for a month, so she really wasn’t unpacked. Cathy had all that to attend to plus caring for her mom with the two broken ankles and other health problems. I was glad to be able to take the Westies, but I really had little hope of being able to place them together. In all my years in rescue, placing two Westies in the same home has been pretty rare,” said Linda.
The original owner had only wanted one Westie when she took them as puppies, but ended up with two because she felt the conditions at the breeder’s facility were not the best and, though she originally wanted only a female, she couldn’t stand to leave the male behind. Thanks to her care and devotion, the two Westies who had been together for eight years and were quite bonded, were in good health and well socialized. Linda knew they wouldn’t be difficult to place but probably not together, so she listed them separately on the rescue’s Facebook page. Then, a miracle happened!
A family, who had been interested in another Westie rescue that was already spoken for, saw the two Westies, guessed they were siblings and expressed interest in both. As luck would have it, the couple had had Westies before and had always dreamed of having two together. A meet and greet was arranged that included the couple’s two Yorkies. All went well. Linda knew when both folks got down on the floor with the Westies, it would be a good match. Plus, the Westies and the Yorkies were fine together.
Since the couple had a trip planned, the actual adoption needed to be postponed, but the couple was so sure they wanted the two Westies that they committed immediately.
Once McKenzie and Lucas went to their forever home, the new people changed their names to Kate and Spencer after Kathryn Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. “I wasn’t concerned about the name change,” said Linda. “For many rescues we often change their names when they come in to us because some times the old name may be associated with bad experiences.”
The adjustment was not completely smooth, especially for Spencer. He showed anxiety with shadows most notably at sunset. “I was worried that this would be a deal breaker, but the family assured me they were committed to these two. I was able to contact their previous vet and found out that this had been a problem for Spencer previously. That vet had prescribed some anti anxiety meds.”
When Linda passed this information on to the adopters, they went to their vet and he was able to prescribe the same meds. Today, both Kate and Spence have been enrolled in obedience classes not just for training but to provide a bonding experience with their new people. The adoptive couple has learned some techniques for easing Spence’s shadow anxiety, and he is slowly being weaned off his meds.
As for Kate, she has become something of a therapy dog for the family. Their elderly male Yorkie passed away, and Kate has taken it upon herself to be the family “go to comforter” by engaging the other Yorkie in play and cuddling with her people.
Like most breed rescues, Westie Rescue of Austin, Texas is an all volunteer group dependent on fundraisers and donations. If you would like to learn more about this rescue, volunteer, donate, or apply to adopt a Westie, visit their website: Westie Rescue of Austin, Texas.
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