Written by Nicole Plegge
In August 2017, Rion Kolosieke and Megan Waterman bought their first home in Glen Carbon. The couple was thrilled to take this next step in their lives, but by October, it became apparent to both of them that something was missing.
“We both grew up with dogs, and we always loved having them,” said Megan. “It just felt weird living here without one around.”
Rion and Megan agreed to wait until Thanksgiving to welcome a pup back into their lives so they could spend a few days bonding at home. Under the impression that the adoption process would be long and drawn-out, the two ended up at MEHS one Sunday afternoon so they could meet some of the dogs and begin filling out the paperwork.
But the moment they stepped into the kennel, they locked eyes with Leo, a Labrador/border collie/sheltie mix, and knew they were hooked.”
Remarked Rion, “Leo was the only dog not barking when we walked in. When we did get to meet with him, he immediately wanted to be around us. He rolled over to let us pet his belly, we could put our hands to his mouth, and we could pick up his paws.”
“After he passed all his behavioral tests in those first five minutes, we knew we couldn’t put him back.”
A surprise homecoming
Just as surprising to Rion and Megan as finding their perfect match right away was the fact that the adoption process at MEHS was easier than they ever expected. After completing the paperwork, meeting with the staff and spending an hour with Leo, the couple got the good news they could take him home that day.
Leo acclimated to his new surroundings immediately. According to Rion, Leo has never once had an accident in the house, and he’s become his sidekick on long runs on the MCT Trails. Megan refers to Leo as “their first baby,” and spends many evenings snuggling with her furry buddy.
The only issue they had to overcome was Leo’s nervousness around the neighborhood kids.
“Leo’s personality has totally changed this past year,” Rion explained. “He was shy around other people, and we knew we had to put in the work to get him comfortable with others. Last year, kids would come up to him, and he’d hide behind us. This Halloween, he tried to follow them down the street!”
Advice to other adopters
The biggest piece of advice Rion and Megan have to share with other people considering adoption is to put in the time on that initial visit to truly get to know the dog’s personality. That means not only spending a few minutes in the “get acquainted” room, but playing outside and talking a walk around the property.
“It’ll take at least five minutes for the dog to calm down, and another 45 minutes to an hour to really warm up to you,” Rion said. “I think people get nervous those first few minutes when a dog is hyper, and they change their mind about adopting them. You can’t really see a dog’s true personality until they calm down, and the two of you can connect.”
For Megan, finding Leo and welcoming him into their home is one experience she’ll never forget, and that’s why encourages others to consider MEHS as they look for a new family member.