Last year, Ashley Matz’s family lost their German shepherd, and in the beginning of December, she also lost her grandmother.
What was a sad time for the family was helped in part by a new addition.
“On Christmas Eve, I got a call from a family friend who told me that the person who was going to adopt this dog, Blue, backed out at the last minute. And I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to take him,’” Matz recalled. “It was very spontaneous.”
Blue, a purebred German shepherd, was the product of an accidental pregnancy of the family friend’s dog — but the time frame in which he came into her family’s life seemed to be no accident.
“It was so great to have a little bundle of fur around again,” Matz said. “He and I are so bonded; it’s just an amazing thing. Everyone in the family just fell in love with him.”
Matz, who recently completed a doctorate in clinical psychology and is working as a post-doc, had been considering adopting a dog for some time but wanted to wait until after she graduated. Last summer, she took the plunge.
“I finally graduated and I thought, You know what? I’ve waited long enough to do this,” she recalled. “I was looking into rescues and looking on Petfinder for about two months and my friend saw Max online. I put in an application and brought him home a week-and-a-half later.”
Max is a 5-year-old St. Bernard mix whose owner passed away.
When To Love a Canine Rescue intervened, Max weighed only 45 pounds, and the organization estimated he was 8-10 years old.
“He was in hospice care for a month and then the rescue had him for about a year before I adopted him,” Matz said. “He now is back to a normal weight, about 80, and looks way younger.”
Because the dogs are different ages and have very different temperaments, they took a bit of time to get used to one another, Matz said.
“Blue is a super-energetic puppy and Max has such an old soul,” she said. “Max is so chill so he’d be like, ‘Who the heck is this dog? Get out of my face’ and he’d growl at him, but not anything aggressive. But now that they’ve spent time together, they’re fine.”
Training two dogs of different ages can also pose some challenges, she noted.
“Max is so set in his ways so he can be quite stubborn when you’re trying to teach him new things. Blue is so high-energy but that will get easier as he gets older and calms down. But they’re both receptive and super-intelligent.”
Both dogs love being outside and hiking, though Max tends to enjoy walking more while Blue loves fetch and playing with toys.
They share a love of car adventures.
“They just love going in the car. They absolutely love it. They both stick their heads out the window so there’s a ton of drool splatter on the side of the car,” Matz laughed.
That’s a small price to pay for what both have brought to her life, she noted.
“What’s most rewarding is just the amount of love you get in your life,” she said. “Coming home to somebody and seeing life through their eyes is amazing; they get joy out of the simplest things. They teach you patience and kindness. It’s a bond that is like no other.”