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Adoption Process (the long version)

April 15, 2011

I am allergic to dogs, we live in a small urban apartment, and….I hate white dogs because they look dirty and toys because they remind me of rats, and puppies. I just wanted an old mutt that shed less than average and did not have skin allergies itself. Most rescue dogs are adults and complete mixes, so figured with some time I would find one.

I did. We were wait listed for dogs that fit the bill at more than 10 rescues. Month after month…New application for each dog. After 8mos I had enough of the ridiculous prescreening and wait lists that go nowhere. We were never going to move up  the list. Each application was separately considered and a new pool of candidates. We live in a city one block from a dog park and they wanted us to have our own six foot fenced yard….rescues are only for the elites who can afford mansions with acreage in the city?

After a trip to our local shelter and we learned they only have large pit bulls because rescues pull the others. I raced to see one the first day listed and it was already scooped. I could not even meet a contender at the shelter. Once contenders are in secret foster homes, they can only to be seen if you are the “best” of the “best”. I started feeling like a second class citizen who was only good enough for a backyard breeders.

At my wits end, I call some breeders to learn about this world. The responsible breeders put you on a list for a dog that will be bred for you….argh another list. So, I called a rescue an hour from the city and had a heart-to-heart with them. They had a rescue dog who was pregnant that fit the bill. We elected to wait for her while she nursed her young. Heartbreakingly she contracted distemper while breastfeeding and died along with all 8 pups a month later.

At this point I felt broken, and decided to foster a dog that needed recooperation. I could not adopt him because he was half lab and had minor skin allergies. I had runny eyes, aches and sneezing while we was with us. His first 3 years were spent in a family where everyone was gone all day. There were other pets, but he not get enough structured attention to learn and became fearful to the point of aggression when punished or left alone. I worked with a personal behaviorist to exercise the demons out of this fearful creature. Heavy exercise and obedience seems to be most of what he needed. Then after being gone for a weekend, we returned home and our dog sitter refused to return the dog – adopted!!

I knew after fostering that we could take on the worst of a rescue dogs easily, but my allergies were truly a serious concern. A month later we I saw a mug shot of scruffy beauty, not yet on the adoption website and pounced.  I met her and fell in love. Then I looked at my lap covered in fur, she was not as poodle as we hoped. The rescue was also very concerned, so they introduced me to a puppy, understanding that I am not a puppy fan…..I had a hard time connecting to this black mini schnauzer, but I had zero reaction to him and he fit all the criteria outside of age. On the way home I was in a highway accident on a Bridge. The car was totaled and I spent weeks in bed thinking about it all. Lord….What does it all all mean?

With all that had happened, Mike decided a small puppy was what I needed to pour energy into. The insurance company gave Mike a rental car and with a lot of medication I got in the car again to visit the rescue. We took country roads and avoided the bridge.

I could not pick things up, hold a leash, or walk much. I followed Mike around as he gave the puppy a stress test. This pup passed with flying colors. Then a giant deerhound walked behind me, lifted his leg, and peed gallons of urine on me.  I was soaked from the waist down. My leather boots and skirt drenched…..lord….Am I jinxed?

The rescue helped me clean up and put my wet things in the dryer. We ended up being there 4 hours. I sat in the puppy pen where it was more safe and was there so long that I could see that our little guy was a match personality wise. When there was an adult dog fight that he shrugged, he dug a den under a rosemary bush with 3 other pups and was the last to come out, and he rolled in leaf clippings and didn’t bother to shake them off. When I pushed him over, he just laid upside down squinting at the sun.

In conclusion it is all connected. No car, so I walk more. Puppy, so I can prepare for having toddlers in my life at some point. Wait listing, so I could learn how insane and different the urban dog culture is from rural dog culture and get prepared. Fostering, so I could be confident that I can reform a dog that doesn’t cope with city life.

ASIDE:

Mostly I have been most depressed about loosing our car. I was seriously attached to this pearl blue hunk of steel. Its last week was spent in the redwoods, on the coastline watching the sunset, taking me to meet our new dog, and saving my life. The spooky things is that I took a photo of it that week thinking that I would be upset not to have a photo to remember it always. I will mourn our trusty Subaru Impreza Outback for a long while still.

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From → Firsts

One Comment
  1. Mike permalink

    This post is so beautiful.

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