my name’s Ramone. I’m an American Staffordshire/Boxer cross, which means I’ve got plenty of energy and personality. I can be pretty rambunctious, but I’m a lovable fellow. And loyal. If you’re good to me, we’ll be friends for life. Dog’s honour!
I was born in 2008, and at first, life was good. Because I was a cute little pup, my owners seemed to like me and made a fuss of me.
But then things started to go awry. I began to grow and morph from an innocent little puppy into a playful, muscular, 30kg adolescent who didn’t know his own strength. I quickly learned to do all those things us dogs love to do. You know: Chew things, pee against stationary objects, jump up at people and sniff their butts … all the stuff any healthy, red-blooded canine does as a matter of course.
As I grew bigger and more boisterous, my owners started treating me differently. They would often lose their patience and scream at me. I didn’t know why, I loved them and just wanted them to love me back. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, I was just being a dog. Why were they always so angry at me?
Then one day, without any warning, my owners put me in their car and drove me to this place called an “animal shelter”. When we got there, they gave me to the staff, and said:
“Can you take him? We don’t want him any more. He’s too much too handle.”
Before I could fully comprehend what was happening, my owners left and drove off. I never saw them again.
I was only three years old and I had just been abandoned.
I was devastated.
My new home was a small 2m x 2m caged pen in the shelter. I was fenced in by drab brick walls and a chain link fence. It was cold, and at night you could hear the sound of the rain pounding against the tin roof. I was surrounded by other dogs who had also been abandoned. They were all sad and heartbroken too.
On the other side of the shelter, there were a bunch of lost and abandoned cats. I’m not normally a big fan of cats, but I could hear them desperately meowing at night, and I just knew they were in the same sad, sorry situation as us abandoned dogs.
Needless to say, it was a pretty depressing time.
Don’t get me wrong. The staff at the shelter were really nice and genuinely cared about us, you could see it. Some of them didn’t even get paid for working at the shelter, they volunteered their time because they loved animals so much. They fed us, patted us, and took us out of our cages each day for a little bit of exercise. They gave us all a health check, and when any of us got sick their vet would make us feel better again. But the shelter was underfunded and there was a lot of work for the staff to do, so belly rubs were a pretty rare luxury.
After a few weeks in the shelter, I let out a big sigh and resigned myself to my fate. I figured this was how life was going to be from now on – a lonely existence, stuck in a shelter, surrounded by other sad dogs and cats.
I became depressed. My energy levels started to wane and I lost my trademark cheekiness. I just lay on the floor of my cage asking the same thing over and over:
“Why did they abandon me? What did I do wrong?”
Then one day, something awesome happened. I mean, really, really awesome. I remember it well, it was a Sunday. I knew it was a Sunday because that was the day of the week the shelter had the most human visitors. These visitors would come into the shelter, walk past all our cages and look at us dogs. Every now and then, they’d get the staff to open one of the cage doors, and the visitors would pick up the dog inside and pat it. They’d then say something like, “Awww, she’s beautiful, we’ll take her!”
And then the lucky dog would go to a nice, new, warm home with its new owners.
And so, on this particular Sunday, a cold, wet, grey day in 2011, I was lying down when these two people I’d never seen before stopped in front of my cage. The guy was one of these lean, athletic male types. Kind of like me, only human. The lady was a bit older, I figured it must have been his Mum. There was something about these two that grabbed my attention, but I couldn’t quite put my paw on it.
Their skin was a bit darker than most of the humans that came to the shelter, it had this olive tone to it, as if they were Mediterranean or something.
“Wait a minute … Mediterranean … let me have a closer look … holy cow … they’re Italian!”
“You know what that means?”, I rhetorically asked myself.
Mama mia!! I desperately wanted to scream out “PICK ME!!!”, but every time us dogs try to say something to you humans, we just end up barking. Us dogs have our strong points, but bilingualism isn’t one of them.
So I had to engage another strategy, and pronto. Yep, it was time to lay on the charm offensive!
I slumped my head down, and simultaneously looked up at both of them with the saddest look I could possibly muster.
“Excuse me,” I heard the male human say to one of the shelter staff, “can I take a closer look at this dog, please?”
It was working!!!
The staff member unlocked the cage, and the man stepped inside. I had a good feeling about this guy. He had a good, healthy scent – very important to us dogs. So when he kneeled down next to me, I gave him another super-sad look and then … I rolled out the heavy artillery.
Yep, I licked him on the cheek.
Not just once, but twice.
Bullseye! It worked! I could just about see him melting. Yep, he might have fancied himself as one of these manly, rugged types, but I could see right through that hard exterior!
He then looked at the staff member, and said those three magic little words:
“I’ll take him.”
A new owner! A new home! With ITALIAN FOOD!
All my Christmasses came at once that day, let me tell you.
My new owner’s name was “Anthony”, and his Mum is now my “Nonna”.
On the way home, I heard Anthony say to Nonna, “I don’t like the name they’ve given him. He needs a new name!”
As it turns out, Anthony is a massive fan of this music band called “The Ramones”. He has a Ramones t-shirt for every day of the week – seriously. When he does this thing called “training”, he often plays their music – it’s pretty cool. Fast, energetic and American – just like me! Okay, as a Boxer-cross I’m actually half-German – but, hey, so was Dee Dee Ramone!
Anyways, Anthony starts rattling off the Ramones’ names, “Dee Dee, Joey, Marky … “, when Nonna says to him, “Why don’t you just call him ‘Ramone’?”
“Ramone it is!”, exclaimed Anthony.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I came to be named after the greatest band in the history of you humans, and how I came to be the very well-fed, happy pooch that I am today.
It’s now seven years since that lucky Sunday, and I love my new family more than ever. Anthony’s the best – he doesn’t make me sleep on the floor, like my old owners. Instead, he got me my very own leather couch. He rubs my belly several times a day, and feeds me like a king. We’ve been on road trips together, and he’s taken me all over Victoria and South Australia. I’ve explored some of Victoria’s most beautiful forests, I’ve run along the sandy white beaches of Kangaroo Island, and I’ve nonchalantly peed on the nature strips of Melbourne’s most exclusive suburbs.
I’ve met some pretty wonderful people, too. When you’re adopted by an Italian family, you end up with lots and lots of relatives. You know what that means?
MORE ITALIAN FOOD!
And then there are Anthony’s close friends, guys like Uncle Chris, Uncle Gerard, Uncle Kev, Uncle Mike and Uncle Ralph. All of whom fuss over me and make me feel like a bit of a superstar 🙂
Anyway, the moral of my story is no matter how bad things seem, there’s a silver lining to every cloud. I was abandoned by my original owners and there was a time when I earnestly thought I’d be spending the rest of my days in an animal shelter. But then one day, out of nowhere, I was adopted by Anthony, who is a million times better than my old owners! I get more pats, more belly rubs, have more fun, get to meet more cool people, and I sleep on my very own couch!
Oh, and did I mention the ITALIAN FOOD!?!
I hope you’ll follow me and join me on my escapades. I’m a curious dog and get myself into all sorts of adventures (I believe the term you humans use is “mischief”). I’ve also learned a lot in my ten years on Planet Earth, so you might even catch a valuable pearl of wisdom or two.
Before I sign off, I want to profusely thank a few people:
Anthony and Nonna, for “rescuing” me. I can’t give you enough licks on the cheek for this!
Uncle Mike, for telling Anthony he should get an American Staffy. You’ve got awesome taste, Uncle Mike 😉
Uncle Ralph, for letting us stay at the farm. You’re pretty cool, Uncle Ralph! Still not sure what to make of Willow, though 😉
And last but not least, I want to thank the folks at the Animal Welfare League of South Australia for looking after me until my awesome new owner came along.
The AWL receives no direct government funding, and instead relies on the generosity of supporters to continue providing their lifesaving services. Please consider making a donation to this wonderful organization, you can do that at their website.
If money is a bit tight, there are other ways you can help. If you live in Adelaide, they have op shops at Tranmere, Hallett Cove, Port Adelaide and Gawler. Why not clean out all your unwanted clothes, toys, kitchenware, books, etc, and donate them to one of the AWL op shops? They also accept donated items at the Wingfield shelter. The op shops are staffed by volunteers, so all the money raised is used to care for lost and surrendered animals.
You can find their ReTAILS op shop locations here.
And of course, if you are looking for a new pet, instead of supporting puppy farms why not literally save a life and adopt one of the beautiful animals at the AWL, you can find a list of dogs, cats and other furry friendlies currently available for adoption at this link.
Most are past the pup/kitten stage, which means you don’t have to go through the whole toilet-training thing 🙂
Okay everyone, I have to go, it’s time for me to go pee on some trees,