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He is built like a Beagle but with the thick, loopy tail of a Shiba Inu and the neck scruff of a Shepherd.

He’s mostly black and tan, and resembles an undersized Rottweiler, except for some white on his chest.

He chews on anything that’s not nailed down and a few things that are. Shoes, mitts, the futon frame, power cords, ice in the yard. We keep bringing him chew toys, from antlers to food puzzles, and a ball that squeaks like a rodent in peril.

I can’t remember what we were thinking, except that maybe our arrival in Kenosha was not yet complete. I remember saying I wanted a walking companion, especially after dark, and a dog that would get along with our cat.

Our family searched online Thanksgiving weekend, and found a candidate through Woof Gang Rescue, Inc., a no-kill dog adoption organization based in Racine.

Within a few days of our application, a volunteer came to our house, with an energetic pup less than knee-high, a small bag of food, and a red folder with papers.

The pup came from Kentucky and was about 10 months old. He seemed happy to meet us and a little jumpy, as he wandered around the living room, sniffing us and our orange tabby cat.

Within minutes, we gleefully decided this was the newest member of our family. We named him Dash, filled out the paperwork, and thanked the lady who brought him.

The word rescue goes both ways. When my daughter slipped on some ice and hurt herself, Dash immediately went into caregiver mode, licking her face to console her.

When he nestles next to you, he is so sweet, it will just about break your heart. He can also be obnoxious, and usually that just means he needs some exercise.

After Dash learned to come to his name, we took him to the dog park at Petrifying Springs Park, where he happily rough-housed with other dogs. For a moment, he outran a pair of dignified Dobermans, and we felt a surge of misplaced pride.

{div}“It makes me so happy to see him so happy,” my daughter said, as we watched our new pup sprint around the park.{/div}

Dash tracks with his nose like a hound. He also, digs, fetches, and may try to herd you. He can Houdini through a cat-gate.

Like Dash, his new owners are a blend of good instincts and bad habits. We began obedience training with an expert, and we’re all learning. I look forward to one day jogging alongside him and perhaps setting up an agility course in the yard.

In the meantime, the kids put together a schedule, and we take turns walking him, scooping up, and practicing new commands.

I have the evening shift and I often walk him for three miles before dinner. On our return, as we approach the porch light outside the kitchen door, I let him know the journey is over.

“Home, Dash.” I say. “We’re home.”

Amy Ambrose writes this column monthly.

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