Get ready to delve into the captivating world of Kim Lengling, an accomplished author, podcast host, and TV show host based in Pennsylvania, USA. As you step into her world, you’ll discover the profound bond she shares with her furry companions—dogs. Kim’s life has been beautifully intertwined with these loyal beings, and she has skillfully woven their stories into her creative works. Through her words, she invites you to join her on a transformative journey as a dog parent—one that has enriched her life, nurtured her empathy, and kindled her passion for advocating for the welfare of these remarkable creatures. In this interview, Kim unveils heartfelt experiences, shares amusing anecdotes, and imparts invaluable wisdom for those contemplating the joys and responsibilities of dog parenthood. Brace yourself for an immersive exploration of unconditional love, personal growth, and the extraordinary connection between humans and their four-legged companions.
HELLO KIM LENGLING, WELCOME TO DOGOPPO! WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A DOG PARENT?
From the age of 10, I have always had a dog in my life. A friend of mine’s dog had puppies, and I begged my mother to be able to have one. Reluctantly, she agreed. It was a cockapoo who hated men. She was quite the character.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR DOG AND HIS/HER PERSONALITY?
The dog I have now is a rescue. I adopted him five years ago as a skinny, ill, and frightened dog. He had been picked up as a stray and taken to the local shelter. There was no background that the shelter could give me.
After three long months, his personality began to shine. He overcame his fear and now acts like a toddler and is vocal and insistent when telling me it is time for a walk or a treat. He chases any critter that may come through our yard and is a big lovebug. He is a horrible protection dog but will show his “big boy” side if necessary.
HOW DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR DOG’S NAME?
I had been tossing ideas around before picking him up from the shelter. I like names that begin with D. When training, for me, names that begin with a hard consonant work well to keep the dog’s attention.
I had two names chosen; Dugan and Dexter. I decided on Dexter as I signed the adoption papers the day I picked him up.
WHAT’S THE MOST MISCHIEVOUS THING YOUR DOG HAS EVER DONE?
Oh goodness, this boy gets into all kinds of mischief! One that stands out. He had been with me only a few months and had separation anxiety. I realized this when I would return home from work and find Ciabatta Rolls hidden throughout the house. He felt the need to hide food, which made me sad, but I chuckle to this day about how many days it took me to find all of the Ciabata rolls he had hidden throughout the house.
Another that makes me laugh out loud is when I baked a loaf of Banana Bread and had it on the counter to cool. I had to run some errands, forgot to put the bread anywhere but on the counter, and left to take care of my errands.
One hour later, I walked in the back door and noticed the plate on which I had the Banana Bread cooling was on the floor, but the bread was nowhere to be seen.
I searched the house and couldn’t find it. While I searched, Dexter sat in the kitchen corner, his head hanging low in shame.
One more round through the house, I noticed crumbs on the couch. Sure enough, I had found the bread! It had been buried between the couch cushions and was still intact! I laughed out loud and said, “Dexter, that took skill to bury this bread here and keep it in one piece. Well done, but let’s not do it again.”
I have since learned my lesson: keep any bread products in cupboards or high enough up where Dexter can’t reach them.
WHAT’S YOUR DOG’S FAVORITE TREAT?
Peanut butter in a bone. We call it his “Lecha Bone”. If those words are said out loud, Dexter will come running. Or, if Dexter feels it is time for a treat, he will grab the bone and toss it at my feet as if to say, “I think it’s time from a treat now!”
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT A SPECIAL MOMENT YOU’VE SHARED WITH YOUR DOG?
That moment would be the first time I met him at the shelter.
Six months after I said a heartwrenching goodbye to my previous dog, Digger, I felt a nudge in my heart that said, “There’s a dog out there that needs you.”
Driving to work, I felt those specific words, “There’s a dog out there that needs you.” My first reaction was, “No. I can’t do it again. It’s too hard.”
Once at work, those words wouldn’t leave my mind. I got online to see what dogs may be available at the local shelter. There was one dog, which was unusual. I thought, “Only one dog available for adoption?”
There was a picture of a dog with the following information: Male, Shepard Mix, approximately three years old, stray, no background.
What caught my attention was his coloring. He had a black head, a fawn-colored body, white feet, and a white patch on his chest. He had one brown eye and one ice-blue eye.
He was so unique looking. I decided to call the shelter and set a time to meet him. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would probably be getting a dog, but the dog would have to choose me. It had to be the right fit. I did not tell anyone I was even thinking of getting a dog. I needed this process to be between the dog and me.
The next evening, I went to the shelter to meet this young boy. I was escorted into the “meet and greet” room and asked to wait. A volunteer eventually brought this boy into the room. He was thin and quite skittish. He didn’t want to leave the volunteer’s side and kept his nose to the door as if he wanted to leave.
I sat down on the floor to be at his level. I didn’t say anything or move a muscle. I wanted him to feel comfortable enough to approach me on his own.
After a few minutes, the volunteer left this scared boy with me, and the waiting began. Me sitting on a cold cement floor as this dog sniffed the air, paced back and forth, pawed at the door, and eventually sat down with his head hanging.
After a few minutes, his curiosity overcame him, and he tentatively approached me. First, he would sniff my hand and back away. Then, he would walk to my other side, sniff my hand, and back away.
I continued to be silent and still.
After about 10 minutes, this young boy approached me again. He sniffed near my hand, went to my other side, and sniffed my shoulder. Finally, he tentatively sat beside me and, within a few seconds, leaned his entire body against mine, placed his head upon my shoulder, and looked up at me with that one ice-blue eye.
I softly whispered, “Ah, so there you are. You’re coming home with me, aren’t you?”
He chose me. THAT was a beautiful moment.
The next beautiful moment was when I went to pick him up the following evening. A volunteer brought him out to the lobby. He seemed excited to see me as if he knew he was finally going “home.”
As we left the shelter and approached my vehicle, he jumped in the back seat of my car, sat down, and faced forward as if to say, “Okay. I’m ready!”
WHAT’S YOUR DOG’S FAVORITE TOY?
Interestingly enough, Dexter doesn’t care for toys. There are one or two he’ll play with for five minutes or so, but then he’s done. He prefers going on walks and making perimeter checks of our yard. We live in the country, so he has plenty of space to run and roam.
WHAT’S THE MOST CHALLENGING THING ABOUT BEING A DOG PARENT?
Hmm, there are many challenges throughout a pet’s life. I think one would be ensuring they are safe and well cared for if I travel or take a vacation. I always worry that he’ll eat right and not feel I have abandoned him. He’s always perfectly fine, but I still worry and check on him while away.
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR DOG HEALTHY AND HAPPY?
I have found that if I include him in what I am doing, he is content and happy. I work from home, so he is quite attached to me and in tune with my routine. We take two walks each day for at least a half hour each. I am very watchful of his temperament and his health. He eats a particular food to keep him healthy, has regular vet checks, and I keep his vaccines up to date. And, of course, I give him lots of love and attention.
HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED SINCE BECOMING A DOG PARENT?
I could not imagine my life without a dog in it. I’ve had a dog in my life since I was ten years old. Each has enriched my life immeasurably and at each stage of my life. They have provided unconditional love, fur to cry into, and a warm body to snuggle with on the couch. They have encouraged me and brought so much joy into my life. All of them have been blessings in my life.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO SOMEONE CONSIDERING BECOMING A DOG PARENT?
Best advice. Be prepared to have patience and an abundance of love to give. You are your dogs’ entire world; they wait for you always. You leave for work, and they wait. You run errands; they wait. They only want love and affection from you and to give you love and loyalty in return.
Be sure you have the time, energy, and resources to give your dog the care and attention they will need throughout their lifetime. That also includes having something in place for the care they need should you not be able to care for them for any reason.
It is a big commitment and not one to be taken lightly. A dog is a living, breathing, beautiful soul utterly dependent on their human. Their lives are short. Each dog deserves to live a healthy, happy life, feeling loved, cared for, and secure in their environment.