Rallo FeatureGreg and Laina currently reside in San Antonio Texas where Laina works as a Pharmacist and Greg is a professional hockey player for the San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate for the Florida Panthers. In the spring of 2012 one of Greg’s teammates came across six stray puppies wandering the streets near the rink. The pups were taken in, bathed, deflead, deticked and needed to be fostered for a month before being spayed/neutered and ready for adoption. During this time Greg and Laina discussed the possibility of adopting Oakley and whether or not bringing a dog into their busy lifestyle at this time was right. They fostered Oakley for just a week before deciding to make him a permanent member of their family. Today Oakley and his sister are best friends! Oakley is a playful, happy puppy that has so much love for his family. He is very mild tempered, very well behaved, and a perfect big brother.

How important was it to you to adopt vs. getting a dog from a breeder?

We owe a lot to Kate and Tyson Strachan for teaching us about rescuing and how great the dogs truly are. We really didn’t have a feeling – or even know too much about rescue vs. breeder – before we got Oakley, but after being educated on the overpopulation of shelters, the number of stray dogs, and the number of dogs that just need a good home – we knew rescuing was the way to go. Thanks to Kate and Tyson Oakley found his way into our lives, and it is so great knowing we have changed his life for the better!

How has Oakley fit into your family, and how has he changed your family?

Oakley fits perfectly with our family. It is hard to remember what life was like before he was with us. He is an unbelievable companion, such a lovable and friendly pup, and very loyal to all of us. The timing was the only thing that almost got in the way of us permanently adopting Oakley (rather than just fostering him until he was old enough to be adopted out).  We were less than one month away from having our first child, and were not sure if it was smart to have a puppy and a newborn at the same time. We didn’t have any children or pets up to that point, and were not sure what to expect with either – or if we could handle having both. After fostering him for a week, and many conversations about what was the “right thing to do”, Oakley just made himself part of the family and made the decision for us. Just the thought about taking him back to the shelter to be adopted out to someone else was so hard to even talk about. It was like he knew he was on trial – he was so good! He passed the test with flying colors and we fell in love!

rallo6Your wife Laina was pregnant with your first child when you adopted Oakley, how has Oakley adapted to having a baby in the house?

We were worried about a puppy and a newborn in our house at the same time, and it is crazy to me that we ever spent time worrying. Right from the start, he was very protective of Laina while she was pregnant. Following her around, sleeping at her feet, snuggling on her belly. From the minute we brought our daughter, Avery, home – they were best friends. Oakley has shown more love to Avery than we ever thought possible. Whether it be showering her with kisses every chance he gets, playing tug-a-war with his toys that she steals from him, making sure she is okay when she falls down, and alerting one of us when she is crying or awake – they are best friends. It is so special to see them grow up together and get along so well. Our life is truly changed for the better and we cannot imagine our lives without Oakley in it.

What advice would you give to anyone considering adopting a dog?

Educate yourself on raising a dog. We put the time and effort in to research/learn proper training and discipline, and it is truly amazing. Dogs are so smart, and become what you guide them to be. With love and guidance (and discipline and training), you will have a lifelong companion. As cliché as it is, we can tell everyday that Oakley really knows that we gave him a second chance at life and a better home.

A lot of people tend to have misconceptions about shelter dogs. They sometimes assume that these dogs have issues or are tainted in some way. After going through the adopting process what would you say to these people?

Oakley and his siblings all went through things we will never know. They lived on the streets for almost 5 weeks and we will never know how they even survived. Like we mentioned about – do your research about training/discipline. Dogs are loving and loyal by nature, they just need someone to love and be loyal to them also. Once they know they have you forever, it is their instinct to love and protect you back.