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Robin was on sale when I adopted him from East Valley Animal Shelter in Los Angeles, CA in September 25, 2014, sort of on a whim. I went to the shelter “to look” after seeing his picture online, having been turned down by several dog rescues because we don’t have a yard. (I brought my checkbook just in case.) Robin, whose shelter name was Hector, cowered in the back of his kennel while his kennelmates rushed up to the door to say hello. He had been on the kill list for over a month. In the meeting area, his skinny body shivered uncontrollably and he wouldn’t meet my eyes. I had thirty minutes before closing and all I had to go on was his athletic body type and bright eyes. So I adopted him.

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Robin’s shelter photo

I didn’t know until I reviewed all of his paperwork the next day that he was half price because he’d been adopted at the end of August and then returned. We soon found out why: he has crippling, self-destructive separation anxiety. He also refused to bond with my now-fiance, Addison, who was actually the person he spent the most time with. Multiple times during the two-week exchange period I joked about returning him, but after the first day he was already obsessed with me.

It’s been a long journey with Robin, and we still struggle with cyclical anxiety and dog reactiveness, but he’s changed me as much as we’ve changed him. Though I grew up in rural Minnesota surrounded by woodsy trails, I lost touch with the outdoors when I moved to Los Angeles in 2009. Robin’s puppy crazy called for an energy outlet, but his poor dog social skills made off-leash parks a high stress situation. I took him hiking November 4, a month after adopting him, and we were both hooked.

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Robin’s first hike: Mormon Rocks

Now, we explore as much as we can. Robin’s made great strides in his dog reactiveness and his people-friendliness. I’m touched by the people who say that Robin has inspired them to get their own small dogs outside more. It’s never occurred to me that Robin couldn’t do anything I could do, and I look forward to seeing which trails we wander together in the future.