For our prompt of “Puppy” today, I’d like to share this little sketch and introduce you to the newest member of our family. This is Elliott, and he’s what happens when two big-hearted guys go to a shelter one day to “just have a look.” After losing our Phineas, Philippe and I decided we’d simply start seeing what others dogs might be out there looking for a good home. I’m not entirely sure why we didn’t just assume we’d be coming home with a new dog, but in our minds it was all just a bit of practical reconnaissance. The very idea that we would end up with a three month old puppy was not something we’d thoroughly discussed, but it’s entirely impossible to control that exact moment when one falls in love. This little mixed breed mutt’s picture showed up on the shelter’s site one early evening while we were having sushi at home. We had only an hour before the shelter was closing for the day and Philippe and I both looked at each other without saying a word, gobbled our sushi, and headed out the door to meet him.

I’d called on a couple of dogs previously to learn more, and neither seemed like they would be a good fit. One was an abandoned foster dog who needed another dog in the home, so we weren’t allowed to even make an appointment. But the foster coordinator liked us and wanted to help us, so she was the one who sent me the email that day telling me there was a transfer coming from Texas and that a new litter of puppies would be arriving. I casually checked the site later after work, and clicked through all of the puppy photos. All puppies are adorable, but it was the last photo that caught my eye in a way that I couldn’t quite articulate. I had all of the photos open on my computer in separate tabs when Philippe came downstairs, and then moved one particular photo to the end, and showed him last. The big reveal worked, as the next thing I knew, we were rushing to the car.

Elliott O'Shields Shelter Puppy PhotoThere was an indescribable electric feeling that I felt as I was driving to the shelter. I had no idea what was going to happen next, but the idea of what might happen was swirling through my mind with a strange anxious joy. This little face that appeared that night was one we both immediately wanted to see in person. The instant agreement alone made rushing out before dinner was finished seem like the perfectly sensible thing to do next. Often in life, it’s not what will happen if you actually do something that’s worrisome, but the nagging regret you could feel if you don’t go ahead and simply do it.

After signing in, we were taken back to view all of the puppies, who had very recently arrived from a small town outside of Houston. It was quite a mixed bag of a litter. Fun fact, a female dog can have as many different fathers for her puppies that bred with her while she was in heat. They estimated that this litter had four to five different dads. Needless to say, they were all adorable, but the moment we arrived, one little dog moved right to the front and pushed his siblings away to get our undivided attention. Other people came in after us, but this particular puppy didn’t look at them. I guess he’d made his choice, and in my heart, I knew we were about to make ours.

But first, we had to go to the meet and greet room and wait for them to bring him to us. I’m sure it didn’t take long, but it seemed like hours before they returned with him. We were left alone, nervously wondering about what will happen next. Philippe had forgotten his more fashionable mask and was wearing a blue surgical mask. He looked like a dad in that moment, eagerly waiting to meet and hold his baby for the first time. But, unlike with a human baby, we had a choice to make. What if this wasn’t a good fit? Before we could wonder or worry further, the volunteer arrived and set an adorable black and tan puppy on the floor in front of us. He bounded over to me to say hello and then off to meet Philippe.

I loved the spotted paws, eyebrow dots, and black and white speckled fur around his neck. But, the sheer joy and happiness rippling across every inch of his impossibly soft fur was ultimately what won my heart. I held up a treat and said, “Sit!” even though he didn’t know what that command was yet. He stopped playing, looked at me, cocked his head, and promptly sat. The volunteer made a shocked sound and said, “Oh wow, he’s a smart dog!” Brains and beauty? Be still my heart! “There isn’t time to complete the adoption today, but would you want to put a hold on him and finish the adoption tomorrow?” I looked at Philippe, who I could tell was grinning like a school boy, even if I couldn’t see his mouth. The sparkle in his eye was all I needed to see. I turned back to her and said, “Yes, I think we would.”

We left the shelter in a jubilant fog of emotion, rambling on to each other about what we had just done and what on earth we’re supposed to do next. I drove to a nearby pet store that was just about to close and we bought whatever it was we thought one might get for a new puppy. When we got home, we rolled up the carpet in the living room and set up a gated area lined with pee pads and added some toys. It was all just potential at that point, but we still had to get a full night’s sleep somehow.

The next day was impossibly long at work while we awaited our 4pm adoption appointment. Suddenly, however, that was all over and we were handed a puppy in a blanket and sent out the door. Philippe had been thinking of names and liked the name Elliott, preferring two “t’s” rather than the French version because he liked the visual symmetry. I held the little puppy in my lap on the way home and called him by his new name. He whimpered his approval, cuddled up close to me, and promptly went to sleep.

We arrived home and placed him in his new playpen. Elliott looked around at everything, but didn’t seem to like the fact that he was separated from us. I told him it was temporary until he learned to go outside. He seemed to understand what I was saying, or at least truly wanting to understand. That connection and his incredible smarts made the next steps sail past. He was crate trained in less than 30 minutes and house trained in just a handful of days. Our elaborate gated setup was never really required and was quickly torn down, and the living room restored.

Now comes the fun part of watching him grow up way too quickly and become whatever size his wild cocktail of breeds decides he’s ultimately meant to be. The vet’s guess is currently around 53 pounds. But, it’s all just a best guess. What I know for sure is that each day I’m falling deeper and deeper in love. And, when I look into those little Disney eyes, I see that love mirrored in Elliot as well. I sketched him with his bear Rupert, which was the first toy we gave him. He sleeps with it each night, and takes his frustrations out on poor Rupert when he feels that night came far too quickly.

And, Philippe and I are going to take him to school and teach him everything we can to keep his amazing mind sharp and active. What we didn’t expect were all of the things he’s already been teaching us. All of the wonder in the world that we thought we noticed, but still managed to take for granted. All from this one little puppy who dreams about nothing more than what the amazing next day will bring. We’ve got a lot to learn, little one, but right now, it’s time to go to sleep and dream of all of the incredible adventures that await us tomorrow. And your two dads will be with you to enjoy each and every unforgettable moment along the way. Welcome home, Elliott.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.:  Yellow Ochre, Opus (Vivid Pink), Terra Cotta, Cobalt Turquoise, and Ultramarine (Green Shade). ZIG Cartoonist Mangaka Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Elliott Dog Portrait Australian Cattle Dog Mixed Breed Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail

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73 thoughts on “Welcome Home, Elliott

  1. I had a cute little puppy like that about 10 years ago, but now she’s like 70 lbs! Tater tot is her name, black & white mixed pit… fabulous funny quirky dog! Your illustration is spot on!

  2. Charlie, he is just simply the cutest! You and Philippe are two lucky dads for certain. And Elliott is learning how lucky he is to have you both – a match made in heaven!

  3. Congratulations on your new family member! He’s such a cutie, and a lucky pup indeed to have found such a loving home. I agree with Philippe on the two ‘t’s. I don’t know why, but the way a word looks can be as important as how it sounds!

  4. So happy for you. I lost one of our two dogs in January, she was only seven. It was heart wrenching, so I understand. But now we can pour our love into her sister. Dogs are family, glad you found new love!

  5. My husband and I are both over the top thrilled to hear about your new puppy!!! We both understand that love at first sight at the animal shelter and also how one animal out of a whole room can immediately know who it wants for parents and makes a move to make that happen. I am so, so happy for you and that puppy is the cutest!!!!😍🥰 I will be looking forward to hearing about the future adventures of Elliott!!! He chose well!!!

  6. How long did you last? About four weeks? I lasted about two months after I lost Caesar. About two weeks after I lost Ramses.

    At first, you can’t imagine how you can live with a dog. Then you can’t imagine living without a dog.

    I am thrilled you found another companion. This was obviously meant to be. Elliott sounds like he is an old soul who retained some of his knowledge.

    There are some online calculators you can use to estimate your puppy’s adult size. Some are more accurate than others. Since you know the age pretty closely, you put in the age and weight, then keep doing that every few weeks and eventually you’ll get a pretty accurate estimate of the adult size. Some want to know the breed, which could be difficult.

    If you are interested in his breed mix you might consider a DNA test. I would highly recommend Wisdom Panel. You get a more accurate breed identity.

    I’ve done both Embark and Wisdom on Diana and Freyja. The reason being I did Embark on both and didn’t believe Freyja’s results (still thinking she was part Keeshond.) So I did Wisdom and Freyja and it was so accurate I decided to do Diana again, only with Wisdom this time. There are pros and cons to both. If you can afford to do both tests, I highly recommend both. If just one, then you need to decide what you are really interested in; accurate breed mix or contacting possibly family.

    If you are more interested in finding family (since he has siblings in the area) do Embark Vet. They have a communication component that allows you to message any dogs that come up as close relatives. Diana found her brother Pete that way and we had a meet up at the beach. His parents and I watched them both romp together and traded behavior quirks we had observed in both. While Wisdom has now added a close family component there is no way to contact them. Diana has a brother Winston on Wisdom but we have no way to contact them. Unfortunately, Freyja has no family, at least none that have bothered to do the test with either company.

    Both allow you to pay extra to test for any genetic defects or possible medical issues down the road. I did this for both Diana and Freyja for piece of mind since both are mixed breeds and rescues. Thankfully they are all clear on everything they test for.

    Texas. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s got some sort of coonhound in him. If he starts to bay, you’ll know you’ve got a hound.

    Great you are able to socialize him with training classes. That will help you get through the “terrible twos” and “teenage rebellion” weeks. If you have the inclination and it is available, I recommend getting him is S.T.A.R. puppy certification from the AKC and then go on to Canine Good Citizen. It sometimes can reduce insurance and allow Elliott to qualify for other things. Like therapy dog if he is so inclined.

    You might look into something called scentwork or nosework that is an activity that can be done right in the apartment with very few supplies. It’s great not only for keeping him occupied but also to exercise that very sharp mind of his with problem solving. AKC has a program any All American Dog can join. There is also the National Association for Canine Scent Work. They are a little more formal. It’s a great activity the three of you can do together and it gives him a “job” or hobby.

    1. Aww thanks so much!! 😃💕 Scentwork sounds like something he’d definitely enjoy. We’re going to be coming up with lots of things to keep his mind active. And are currently in obedience classes on the weekends. Some days, he’s more interested in the mind work than running around! hehe

      We actually only waited a few weeks… we knew for months that Phineas had cancer and we were just keeping him happy and comfortable along the way. And we started peeking at new dogs as well. Didn’t plan on a puppy though! lol

      We did WisdomPanel and it came back as 42% Australian Cattle Dog, 14% Siberian Husky, 9% Chihuahua and about 11 other breeds after that including a bit of beagle! Thankfully… all the health tests came back clean as well. So he’s a healthy little mutt!

      He’s already playing fetch and knows, sit, lay down, target, on your bed, in your house, and stay. Working on shake right now. hehe It’s going to be a fun adventure!!

  7. Hi Charlie and Phillips, loving Elliott and happy for you both. He’s such a cutie and I am sure Phinneas would approve. Love the name btw. Check out products from Only Natural Pet. They work and you won’t have to put poisons in him. 😘🐶🥰

  8. I, of course, love the painting. Probably, like many, I am not surprised you have welcomed a new member of your family. He is absolutely beautiful and I love the story of how Elliott came to be. 🙂

  9. Charlie! Congratulations to you and Philippe! He’s so sweet! And a Texan to boot. haha Enjoy your bonding time! He sounds so smart. 💜💜💜

    1. Thanks so much, Marisela! 😃💕 He’s a sweet one, but SO darn smart that he’s also a bit mischievous at times when he’s bored, which is all of the time. Kind of like me, actually, so I can’t really fault him there. And yes! He’s from Texas too!

  10. Welcome beautiful and sweet Elliott! Congratulations Charlie to you and Philippe! I am glad you adopted him, I am so happy that you all 3 are happy together! I did the same thing last year, I adopted my now “big baby” Ace, he just turned 2 years in February and he is about 65 pounds! LOL

      1. Obdience class……that is like elementary school for dog. Very good. Oh our furry friend, Cimba outsmarts us now en then but in the end he is the sweetest an most cudly dog on earth. Lots of succes with your Elliott.

  11. I’m sooo happy for all of you! How wonderful that Elliott and you and Philippe have found one another. PS: As a very young child,I had a darling little dog named Ruppert! Oh could he wiggle and jump! Good luck to all.

  12. Hellooooo Charlie,

    Congratulations with a big hug for you & Phillipe. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Little Elliott is adorable personified and will make the perfect companion for Little Charlie. I can’t wait to read a new volume of Charlie-Phillipe-Elliott Adventures. Am so so happy for you. And yes, you put it brilliantly – he’s got Disney eyes. 🙂

    Lots of love,

    1. Thanks so much, Mugdha! 😃💕 Yes, we didn’t expect to adopt a puppy, but it’s been a thrilling ride so far. Thankfully, he’s smart and easy to train so things are going very smoothly. Until he hits his “teen” moments next and starts ignoring us to test the limits. No matter what… adventures ahead! Much love to you, my friend!

  13. I am so happy to hear this, Welcome to your new home and human family, Lovely Elliott! Blessing and Happiness to you all, Love, nia

  14. Congratulations on your sweet lil boy! He’s a cutie! I actually bought a dachshund puppy in January and picked her up February 8th from the breeder. I chose her off their website page out of 27 other doxies, just something about her drew her too me! Our ItZy just turned 4 months and a whopping 6 pounds now!! And she’s developing her Weiner back😂😂 Her fabric toy box is her fort and she knows 3 of her toys by name! I’m 55 so this has really took my energy!!! Have a great weekend!!

    1. Thanks so much, Patti! 😃💕 Yep… Elliott is going to be a fun adventure ahead. And your little dachshund pup sounds so cute!! And tiny! Ours is going to be much larger… though we have no idea how much yet. And yep… they are a bundle of energy. It’s good to keep us active though! Have a fabulous weekend!

  15. Congrats! Elliott is super adorable and sounds like a perfect fit for you guys. Love your illustration/painting of him! I know the story of going to the shelter “just to look” but coming out with an animal (happened with two dogs and a cat…not at once – lol). I also totally understand the indescribable feeling of just knowing a dog or cat is meant to be yours…you just know. 😉 Enjoy your new little guy!

    1. Thanks so much, Mel! 😃💕 Yep… I don’t think the “just have a look” strategy works when it comes to shelter animals. I want to adopt them all! hehe But yep… there’s that feeling that of connection with just that certain animal that’s totally impossible to describe. It’s wonderful!

  16. I’m so happy for you! I cried when you lost Phineas and I’m crying again with your story about Elliott….this time tears of joy! It’s funny how I feel like I know you, even though we will never meet in person. I’m so thrilled that you and Philippe have a new baby to love. I’m sending blessings from Maine to you and your loved one!

    1. Thanks so much, Patricia!😃💕 We were so sad to lose Phineas, but so happy we can give another shelter pup a loving home. Though, we really didn’t plan on a puppy… hehe… lets just say, it’s never a dull moment! 😉 Much love to you!

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