‘No Way Latte’ – A Rescue Story

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“No way are we getting a second dog. No way.”

That was what Carolyn’s husband, Bill, said when she broached the subject. They had already invested so much time, energy, and money into their first Havanese rescue dog, Monster. Now that their family of three was finally settled, Bill didn’t want to go through the adoption process all over again. It would change their lives too much.

They’d taken a risk with Monster. After seeing only a fuzzy picture on the internet, Bill and Carolyn traveled six hours to pick him up. They’d been warned that Monster had been rejected by a breeder because of congenital issues. When they met Monster, his fur was thoroughly matted, and his eyes were dull. Later, they would find out that his spine had been broken before he got to the rescue. At six months old, Monster didn’t even know how to be a puppy.

Monster before and after adoption (Photo courtesy Carolyn Bivens)

Patience and persistent training finally helped Monster to blossom, so much so that he eventually became a certified therapy dog and earned the Canine Good Citizen Award. Still, another rescue dog felt like a gamble. “There’s no question that when you get a rescue dog, there are some residual things; we’ll never know exactly what they went through,” Carolyn said.

Just as she had eventually convinced Monster that he was loved and safe, Carolyn eventually convinced Bill that Monster needed a brother.

But a brother just wasn’t in the cards for Monster.

Monster on the beach (Photo courtesy Carolyn Bivens)

Monster had lived with Carolyn for about three years when she contacted an animal rescue regarding two male Havanese mix puppies. The puppies had already been spoken for, but just before she hung up, the person on the other line asked Carolyn if she’d consider a female. “We’ve got the sweetest little female that we’ve had a long time,” the rescue worker said. He just happened to be traveling to Carolyn’s area the next day with a load of pups bound for adoption, so they arranged a meet and greet.

It was all over as soon as Latte walked in. “It’s sort of love at first sight—you’re sort of dead meat as soon as they walk in the house,” Carolyn said. She signed a foster-to-adopt agreement while Monster played, unknowingly, with his soon-to-be sister.

Bill named their new little Havanese Latte because of her sweet cocoa coloring. Carolyn’s friends call her “No Way Latte” in reference to Bill’s original stance.

Bill with Latte and Monster (Photo courtesy Carolyn Bivens)

Latte’s life hadn’t been as sweet as her name suggests. Before her adoption, she’d been found on the streets of Palm Desert, where it regularly reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Carolyn isn’t sure how the little dog survived except by learning how to be aggressive enough to scare the bigger animals away.

Latte was eventually picked up off the streets and brought to a rescue. She spent a couple of months in foster care before being adopted, but she was returned after a week because she didn’t go to the bathroom quickly enough. “I don’t know anyone who can ‘go’ on command,” Carolyn said.

Carolyn soon learned that Latte’s sweet little face belongs to an alpha dog. Latte was aggressive to other dogs and to Monster. Once, when Carolyn and Latte were cuddling on the couch, Monster tried to climb up to join them. Latte lunged at him—she wasn’t planning on sharing her new-found mom. Poor Monster cowered and whimpered.

Photo courtesy Carolyn Bivens

But Carolyn didn’t give up on Latte. She found a dog trainer and they “worked really, really hard” for three years. Slowly, Latte learned the pecking order, and Carolyn learned how to reinforce it every day. Monster always gets fed first and gets his treats first. Now Latte will still growl at strange dogs, but then she wants to play when they get closer. And she and Monster are the best of friends.

And Bill? According to Carolyn, “There’s not a day that goes by now Bill doesn’t say, ‘They add so much to our life. They make us laugh. They throw an amazing party for you whether you’ve been gone ten minutes or two hours.'”

Latte and Monster with Carolyn; Latte and Monster with puppuccinos

Now Latte and Monster spend their days playing on the beach and destroying squeaky toys. And Latte is a talker, especially when she knows they’re at Carl’s Jr., where she likes to place her own order. Bill was right; a second dog did change their lives. But the family of four would certainly never want to change back—no way!

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Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.
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