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  • Writer's pictureSam Hageman

Mitten Made Pups: How We Got Dexter

Updated: Apr 4, 2021


Garrett & I had just moved into our first apartment together & we were looking for a dog, specifically a GSD or GSD mix. Garrett had grown up with a German Shepherd until he was 5 years old & I had always wanted one (although I had plenty of different mutts while growing up). We had been looking at rescues & other sites to see what we could find. While Garrett was scrolling through Craigslist one day (which he did almost daily at one point in his life), he came across a Craigslist ad with a derpy photo of an 8 month old GSD mix. He was from a rescue in Toledo Ohio & was living with someone who could no longer afford to keep him/had a baby on the way. Dexter's photo immediately sold us, so we called the guy. By the end of the week Garrett drove to Toledo Ohio to pick Dex up.

On September 12, 2015 Garrett drove to Toledo, Ohio from the Metro Detroit area in Michigan. When Garrett got to the home Dexter was very excited & immediately tackled Garrett to the ground. Garrett noticed there was another dog who lived with the guy & it seemed there was only one bowl for both dogs. Garrett was told that Dexter was "too hyper” to be around kids & he could no longer afford to keep him. Dexter was quite nervous & actually peed when he crossed the street to get into Garrett's car.

I returned home from work about an hour after Garrett had arrived to our apartment with Dexter...& they were still outside. It seems Dexter was terrified of the stairs & would not go up them. However, I do not blame him as the stairs are steep & at the time they were wood with metal covers on them. It was good for me though, because the second I got to the porch Dexter was so happy to meet me. He wagged his tail a ton & gave me lots of kisses. It definitely was love at first sight for the two of us. After lots of love & meeting Dexter I tried to bribe him to go up the stairs, but was only able to get him up a few steps. After another hour attempting to get him up the stairs we gave up & Garrett picked Dexter up to bring him upstairs.

Dexter was immediately very cautious, because of all the wood floors in the home. He literally ran to the couch & did not want to move from the couch. He was terrified of all thresholds (& still can be hesitant with them in new places) & would not even dare go in the kitchen or back of the apartment where our bedroom was. He literally just laid on the couch for the rest of the day & we gave him lots of love. Dexter also refused to eat that night & peed all over the couch because he did not want to go on the floor or down the stairs. It definitely was a rough first night, but improved quickly.

The next day we went to Home Depot with him to pick up some new carpet for the front steps (which Garrett carpeted that day) & were able to walk him on the leash (although he was quite the puller). We carpeted the front steps & finally he would go up & down them without being picked up. Then the next day he destroyed only the left shoe of most of my shoes & one pair of Garrett's shoes. Then on the next day he destroyed some of the pillows we had on the couch. Then he started to chew on the wood posts on the couch & eventually tore a hole in our futon mattress. However, outside of those few incidents his first week with us, Dexter never destroyed things again, besides his toys (outside of the one incident where Garrett made him mad by not taking him out before he took a shower...two days in a row...leaving us with two partially destroyed 70's dinning room chairs).

Like many rescues the rule of 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months definitely applied to Dexter. When we got Dexter he was super malnourished & under weight. He was very paranoid, semi-trained, & had lots of love to give. We also later discovered he was dog reactive/selective due to his time fighting with the other dog he lived with & had severe anxiety. Even though he had all of these traits, which can be typical for any rescue dog, he was always so eager to please & learn.

Dexter is now one of the happiest dogs with a massive smile, who still gives lots of love, is eager to please, & is the smartest dog I have met in my life (he knows well over 50 words, spelling of some words, & can learn a new trick within 15 minutes). Over time Dexter has become the most amazing dog & my heart dog. He is definitely still the paranoid boy who came to our house, but has built so much trust & confidence with us. Dexter has traveled to 48/50 states in the U.S.A., traveled to parts of Canada, & explored all over Michigan. He was our first dog together & will always be our best boy. We couldn't imagine our lives without him in it.




Although how we got Dexter is not something we will ever do again (due to the problems with backyard breeders & just being more educated on better ways to search for a dog), we wouldn't trade Dexter for anything. As Garrett said, he was his best Craigslist find ever & will forever be my heart dog.


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