On January 23rd, Tim and I adopted Emmett, our foster dog of 7 months. If you’ve been following along, I’m sure you think “It’s about time!” I happen to agree.

Not only has Emmett blossomed into an affectionate, well behaved and happy pup with us, but he and Shamus, our Newfoundland, are the best of inseparable friends. Long before Tim and I fully committed to keeping Emmett, the dogs demonstrated loud and clear what they wanted – to be together always. See for yourself in the video I shot two weeks prior to signing the paperwork.


Of course, dog rescue is a “for-better-or-for-worse” proposition. Unfortunately, when Emmett’s adoption plan went into action, for worse was the greater part of our reasoning.

Emmett’s behavior had unexplainably shifted over the course of several days. He watched out of the corner of his eye as we passed him in his bed. Nights became unsettling for him and he walked through the dark with his back hunched like a cat. His fur would stand on end, even while his tail wagged, and he’d bark at nothing in particular in an empty room. Something was very wrong. Emmett’s trust in the safety of his environment had waned. Tim and I felt like we failed, like Emmett was regressing. We needed answers.


Breaking the situation down into manageable parts, we first filled out theĀ adoption contract to proceed as a solid family unit. We have been Emmett’s family, the only long-term support he has ever known, and he needed to feel that he belonged with us no matter what. Next, in an effort to explain Emmett’s odd behavioral shift, we combed back through the previous week’s events hoping to uncover the mystery.


About a month ago, Emmett’s foot pads had become deeply rutted and slightly discolored. He was placed on over-the-counter fish oil supplements based on a picture I brought to the vet. Concerned that there was no discernible change several weeks later, I took Emmett for a follow up exam.

Abhorring this visit after a previous bout with staples, Emmett pulled me back toward the car once we reached the front door. When we did finally get inside, he would not allow the techs to see his feet without significant coercion. Leaving with meds in hand, a precautionary measure to treat any possible issue with the least amount of stress to Emmett, we came home. Relieved to be back, Emmett bounced around as usual with Shamus.

One day later, Emmett’s behavior began to change but I couldn’t put my finger on what was happening. I wondered if stress from the vet visit had caused some previous insecurities to resurface. Two days later, Emmett grew more frenetic. Questions arose and we watched vigilantly. Taking stock of his environment, we noted that Emmett’s food had changed. The brand was the same but the flavor was new. Could this be an allergy? Was he was sick? In pain? Was there a tumor pressing on the behavioral center of his brain? The following day, Emmett’s personality deteriorated into a ball of nerves that could no longer be attributed to the dog we knew and loved. We called the vet to hurry him in for a full blood work-up and x-rays.


While the majority of veterinary journals make no mention of this, and the vet who originally treated our boy was unaware, another vet at our clinic knew of some rare, yet undesirable side effects associated with the medication Emmett was on. When his anti-yeast and ear meds were mixed with an antibiotic, she said it was possible that the drug or the combination of several had likely made Emmett “crazy.” There was no way of knowing if he was hallucinating or simply feeling anxious, but we took him off that questionable drug and one other immediately. We also returned to the original flavor of food to cover all bases. The following day, we had our Emmett back.

Emmett and Tim CluneFOR THE BEST

While this wasn’t the most joyous or ideal way for Emmett’s adoption to come to fruition, we have no regrets. When push came to shove, we knew we belonged to Emmett and that he belonged to us – long before bureaucracy, semantics and a medical mystery entered the picture. I suppose, after dragging our feet in our formal commitment, the Universe whacked us hard over the head to remind us of our undeniable truth. We all belong together.

Firmly rooted in the commitment of our bond now (as I always was, eh-hem), we are certainly a merrier bunch for it.

Welcome home, Emmett.
We’ve always got your back.
Kim, Tim, Shamus and the birds