The Dog I Never Knew I Needed

An Akita-Doberman mix helps a woman get through the toughest of days.


A famous author once said, “You get the dog you need.” My dog Reno came to me a year before I even knew I needed him. After five years of living the easy life with two small dogs, I decided to get a super-friendly, medium-sized dog that would enjoy going to parks. Over the years, I had owned two Akitas and did not want another dog that large and challenging. I researched breeds, visited shelters, then saw an ad for a 12-week-old Boxer mix and adopted Reno.

As Reno grew, he didn’t look much like a Boxer; he looked more like an Akita mix. I wondered what the odds were that I’d end up with the one breed I was avoiding. When Reno was 9 months old, I confirmed my suspicions with a DNA test. Reno was 50-percent Akita and 25-percent Doberman Pinscher.

I worried that Reno wasn’t the type of dog I had wanted, but I continued to take him to dog parks, and when he was 10 months old, I started him in an agility class. Years ago, I used to compete in agility and didn’t plan to again. However, I felt it might be a fun way to socialize and train Reno. He not only enjoyed it, but he did very well. I was surprised because my last Akita didn’t do well in agility.

When Reno was a little over 1 year old, a little boy I had raised from 7 weeks of age to 6 years old was taken from me. He was part of our family, and he thought of us as his family. I went through a depression and cannot begin to explain how hard this still is.

My friends, family and faith help, but they are not the only reasons I am able to keep going each day. Reno’s fun and loving personality make me smile on the worst of days, and no matter how depressed I feel, I still keep going to agility classes. I made a lot of new friends, and the only time I do not think about the little boy is when I am doing agility. Had I known Reno was an Akita-Doberman mix, I would never have gotten him. But if I hadn’t, I’m not sure where I’d be today.

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