As a professional matchmaker, Jenna Haag was used to bringing human hearts together, but when a two-legged terrier named RooRoo caught her eye, Haag was the one who found herself being matched.
“It just felt great. It was nice knowing Eileen — her foster mom — and Secondhand Hounds was helping to make sure that it was the perfect match,” she tells Dogster.
Haag was introduced to Minnesota-based Secondhand Hounds (SHH) during a local morning show segment about dating as a dog owner. The rescue had partnered with the matchmaking firm Haag works for. RooRoo wasn’t the rescue dog chosen to join the dating experts in the TV studio that day, but when Haag hopped onto the SSH website after the show, she found herself drawn to the 4-year-old terrier mix.
“I scrolled down, and I saw Roo,” she recalls. “It was literally love at first sight.”
The feeling came as a bit of a shock to Haag, who already shared her life with a Pug named Winston. She hadn’t thought she was in the market for a second dog until the moment she saw RooRoo online. After sending an adoption application in to SHH, Haag took Winston to a pet-store adoption event for what was essentially a double date with RooRoo and her foster mom.
“We spent about two hours with them, and it was interesting to watch Roo interact with other dogs and people,” Haag recalls.
By then, Roo had been in foster care for about seven months. While she’d met with a few potential adopters, none had been exactly the right fit for a dog with RooRoo’s specific special needs. Haag learned RooRoo had been sprung from a high-kill shelter in Kentucky in late August, and she was brought to SHH through a network of transport volunteers. It’s not clear how or why RooRoo ended up in a shelter, or if the loss of her two front legs had anything to do with it.
“We believe that her front legs — for whatever reason — were amputated. We don’t know how or why or when, but she does have nubs there,” Haag explains.
Other physical issues RooRoo was dealing with when she was rescued paint a picture of neglect. She was about 5 pounds underweight. Her urine-stained belly and facial scars indicated she’d spent a lot of her life in a kennel.
“Those scars, they believe, are from her trying to get out or poking her nose through the bars,” says Haag, who asked for a home visit soon after her first meeting with Roo.
“That was a completely different experience, to see her in my home and see her interact with Winston. At that point it was like, OK — I want her, I need her, I love her already. And we went through with it.”
The matchmaker knew she had room in her heart for RooRoo, but she didn’t think there was room in her bed. Winston the Pug had been sleeping with her for seven years by that point, and she wasn’t sure he would want to share his special spot with his new sister. That’s why Haag brought RooRoo’s crate (which she is surprisingly not at all scared of) into the bedroom during the terrier’s first night at home.
“I said, ‘OK, it’s time to go to bed,’ and she just looked at me. Then she looked at her kennel, looked back at me, and took one little hop into my bed,” says Haag, who watched as RooRoo settled in next to a remarkably unconcerned Winston. “She lay right next to him at the foot of the bed, and I was like, OK. We’re doing this.”
RooRoo’s inaugural bed hop was a pretty good indication of how she planned to live her life at Haag’s place. The majority of the time, RooRoo doesn’t use her wheelchair, preferring to jump and scoot instead.
“We still practice with her wheels two times a week for, I would say, a maximum of 30 minutes each time,” says Haag.
It’s been a couple months since RooRoo found her forever home, and while Haag says the process of adopting a two-legged dog was more involved than she expected, the professional matchmaker was impressed with SSH’s pairing process.
“It was actually really hard for me because I am used to being in control and directing people, but Roo’s foster mom has this great intuition, and I think she also knew this was the perfect fit,” she explains. “It was nice to know that they had a process and that they really had Roo’s best interests at heart, too.”