When MacKenzie Robinson, 22, moved to Atlanta, she hit it off with Pete* and they quickly began dating. Being new in the city, Pete was her main social connection. They were happy at first, but after a few months of being together, things started taking a turn for the worse.
“When you date an alcoholic, it’s okay for a while — but then everything switches,” she says. “It was early last year when things started getting really bad and uncontrollable.”
They had serious conversations about how Pete needed to stop drinking. Nothing changed.
But then, everything did. MacKenzie found her soulmate: Morty, a one-and-a-half-year-old dachshund-beagle mix.
“I rescued him from PAWS Atlanta,” she says. “They are a great rescue around here. I got him, and three weeks later, kicked out my ex and turned my life around.”
MacKenzie says she was putting up with the abuse from Pete, at the time, because she wasn’t in a good place. When Morty entered the picture, she had a low-tolerance policy for any kind of mistreatment — especially when it came to Morty.
“I rescued Morty,” she says. “My whole life and priorities changed. It’s like having a kid. I took on that priority so I could focus on Morty. If he couldn’t come out with me, I wouldn’t go because he was freshly rescued and had separation anxiety. He came from a really hard background.”
Morty was abused in his last home. His previous owners had moved and left him in a cage for three weeks by himself. When PAWS found him, after someone called because they heard howling, he had a broken paw and both of his eyes were infected.
“After I’d get off work, I’d want to go home right to my dog,” MacKenzie says. “I wanted to make it all about Morty, his training and making him comfortable. He needed a lot of time at first to learn how to be a dog.”
Pete didn’t like that MacKenzie’s attention was focused on Morty. It made their relationship, which was already suffering, go even further downhill.
“The person I was dating was jealous of a dog,” says MacKenzie.
She described how there was one night when Pete expressed he didn’t care whatsoever about Morty. MacKenzie already knew she had to leave and started to tolerate less and less of the abusive behavior.
“He brought a presence of negativity around the house and Morty could feel that,” she says. “He was never comfortable around Pete.”
A few weeks later, MacKenzie kicked Pete out of her home and started on her own road to recovery. She did it with Morty by her side.
“He’s like my best friend,” she says. “I literally look forward every single day to going home to him.”
For a while, she struggled to leave the house due to serious depression.
“When you live in an apartment with a dog, you have to get up and walk and get those endorphins going,” she says. “He’s made me exercise. We also sleep together every single night.”
Love at first sight
When MacKenzie went to PAWS, she initially wanted an older dog, knowing it’s harder for them to get adopted. She walked several of them but nothing really clicked.
“I walked through the puppy room and there were so many puppies going crazy in their kennels,” she says.
Morty had on a cone because he had just had eye surgery. He was sitting very calmly, unlike the other puppies, but was shaking ever so slightly.
“We made eye contact and I just knew,” she says.
MacKenzie took him for a walk and into another room, where Morty hopped up in her lap.
“I originally couldn’t adopt him for two days because I had to clear it with my landlord,” she says. “I went back each of those days to make sure no one else was going to take him and we formed a bond. I adopted him that week.”
Morty needed a lot of training. MacKenzie put in the work. Both she and Morty have changed a lot since they initially met.
“When I really prioritized Morty, it made me stop going out to bars as much,” she explains. “It helped me get my life together. I’m way more comfortable being alone. When you’re in a low spot and you just have the cutest little guy there, just to love you, it really helps with your healing. It’s corny, but he rescued me.”
*name has been changed