Rescue Stories Blog The Gentle Pit

Nikki, Packer & Duke: My Dogs Allow Me to Feel Rewarded by Simply Loving Them

Your name: Nikki Wilkes

Your dog's name: Packer and Duke

Your location: Shavertown Pennsylvania

What made you decide to rescue a dog (as opposed to buying one)? Buying a dog has never occurred to me we did not start getting dogs in our family until I was about eight or 10 years old even then they were free from neighbors and as I grew older I understood the importance of utilizing my local shelters Petfinder and our Humane Society and SPCA to seek out the best dog that suits our family I don’t know if I had ever even considered “purchasing a dog” I can certainly find all the love I need in a dog at a shelter or rescue.

How did you come to find your rescue dog and how did you know he/she was 'the one'? I had a family dog that lived until he was 18 years old he was the first dog that we had ever had and when I was a young adult he left the house and moved in with my husband and I along with my other dog Bradley at the time. When my old timer passed away I was so upset the pain was like nothing I had ever experienced or expected to experience, so it took quite some time for my heart to heal. It was about two years later when I really remember telling my husband I think I’m ready to start looking for a dog so we immediately went on Petfinder and began our search we had expressed interest in two dogs one tan and white and the other was black- it was in a rescue just outside of the Philadelphia area which is only about two hours away from us. We had called to inquire about the dogs and they said that the white and tan dog was already adopted but the black dog was still available so we decided immediately that we needed to have this dog so we got in the car a few days later and went to go meet our Duke for the very first time. he is a pit mix and is the absolute most perfect dog that we could have ever asked for! he’s very intuitive he needed no formal training, he is just perfect a once in a lifetime dog is the way I like to say it! This was the first time that my husband and I fully understood that black dogs do get overlooked and left behind in the shelter . A few years later we rescued another dog-we first met him when our family was hosting an annual charity day at a rescue near our home and there was a litter of dogs that had come in they were thrown in a garbage bag over the side of a cliff when they were only a few hours old. They were brought to the shelter without a mom and so cold that ticks and maggots were abandoning them and jumping onto the rescuers instead . everyone of those dogs survived and when I met that dog the biggest one in the litter I said to my husband that’s our dog and he’s going to come home with us five weeks later and after multiple visits to the rescue in the meantime we brought him home. It has not been the easiest Journey but it is one that is definitely worth experiencing.. Packer has needed extensive training to overcome some obstacles that I’m sure were lacking because he did not have a mom- as good as we are as humans we cannot replace that maternal teachings that a mama dog offers to her pups . But with guidance and a great trainer and a lot of patients packer has given us such joy in our lives he really is a good dog. Hes very smart he’s very well trained , he knows commands in three different languages , he’s very well adapted at this point I’m a firm believer that every dog will find the right family and I’m confident that both Duke and Packer have found the right family with us.

If you and your pup had an entire day to do only fun things together, what would your day look like? Duke would swim in the ocean with his dad all day and Packer would play fetch with his Kong endlessly.

If you had two magic minutes where your dog could understand everything you said, what would you tell her/him? I would want all of my dogs to know that every dog that I spend my life with I learn more each time. I learn more about myself , I learn more about how to properly care and how to properly train and how to properly advocate for animals. So I would hope that my dogs would understand that my shortcomings that they may have experienced were never for the lack of love or for the lack of effort, I am always doing the best I can. Each one of my pets helps me grow and understand more each and every day so I would hope that they knew that I loved them to the ends of the earth and back and I would hope that they would forgive me for anything that I should’ve done better. And that their legacy and stories and memories will provide me with comfort and joy until the day I leave this earth each and everyone of them.

What would be your dog's theme song? Packers theme song would be Bet Midler’ Blueberry from a Sesame Street soundtrack because he loves to eat frozen blueberries and I’m not really sure what Duke’s theme song would be my husband would probably be the best suited to answer that question so TBA.

How does your pup make your life better? Dogs really do you have an amazing compassion when it comes to forgiving and truly loving and Leslie they know how to be intuitive to pick out the good people in the world and there have been days when I have felt such darkness and I have experienced such heavy loss and my dogs are equally there for me to support me as on the days that I have celebrated and rejoiced so though I have may have thought absolutely alone in the world so long as I have had pause in my household I have never been alone in one day that may sound cliché but it is true and I’m sure that there are studies out there that prove that having pets and dogs in your life definitely as long to have pets in your life as longevity and I truly do believe that allowing yourself to fully love and advocate for someone or some thing in your life really is rewarding and that is what my dogs allow me to do is feel rewarded by simply just loving them.

What do you want the world to know about rescuing a dog? We are all wounded, we have all felt abandoned at some point in our life and I’m sure we have celebrated the day when somebody took a chance on us or saw something special in us picked us out from the crowd. I think that that is a very similar situation when dogs sit in shelters or rescues. Waiting to be picked from the crowd . We can identify with them in those moments and I think every living being in this world deserves a second chance humans and animals alike. We don’t always get the best opportunities to shine in the beginning but that does not mean that we should not have the opportunity to try again. When you rescue a dog or any pet, you give them an opportunity to love again, to be good again, to live their best life! I do think it’s our responsibility as humans, we have domesticated canines to be our pets, so it is our job to make sure that we take care of them and with our help to clear the shelters and advocate for them it’s our job to lift them up never, never to push them down. Regardless of what your resources are you can volunteer you can adopt you can advocate you can donate no effort is too small and I hope that people understand that.


  • Colleen

    What a poignant and compassionate commentary on what, in my opinion, is THE most important lesson one can learn—that of unconditional love and second chances! So well spoken, from the heart. All here are so, so lucky!!

  • Lori Russel

    Who saved Who!

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