Some people need weeks, months, even years after a beloved companion animal dies before they are ready to consider bringing a new one into their hearts and homes. Others, like Marley and I, are pretty much ready right away. It isn’t that we didn’t love our dogs…we did, very much.
Maybe it was because we loved them that we feel ready to love another dog or two that’s ready for a good home, even though Paris and Butterscotch have only been gone a few months.
There are lots of dogs out there that need a safe and loving place to land, so we’ve been looking for the last few weeks, and what an education that has turned out to be.
We’re both in our early sixties, and between pet sitting and the community cat program, we do enough puppies and kittens to satisfy our needs for young, cute things. We’re past wanting to raise the little ones, and happy to let others enjoy the process. We’re looking for middle-aged or senior dogs, the ones lots of others might overlook. A sugar-face, as my sister calls it, (a white muzzle), makes you a great candidate in our book. A dog who has been down on his or her luck is good with us too. Paris was a closed-down, depressed dog when we took him home, and with a little TLC and guidance he turned out great.
First, let me say that anyone who does rescue work with animals gets kudos. Working in any rescue/care situation for animals brings with it great joys, but huge heartache and worry as well. I say this from personal experience the last three years with the TNR/Community Cat program. Those of us who try to provide for the critters of this world end up having to make decisions about whether a community cat might be adoptable, or should go back to live its life outside. We have to decide what can or should be done about the health of an animal, and sometimes whether there is enough health left to try at all, or decide to humanely help an animal across that bridge. We have to decide if a given home is right for a particular individual, so we end up asking lots of personal questions, and – at least to those who are looking to adopt – looking rather nosy and sometimes know-it-all, especially when we’re looking for a kind of care that might be different than the potential adopter has in mind. Rescue work is hard if you truly care about animals.
I have grown even more appreciative of the process and the people who dedicate their lives to the animals over the last few weeks. Some do it well, and others, not so much. Everyone does it because they care deeply for the welfare of dogs and cats (in this case) but unfortunately, making the best decisions requires more than just caring. You have to know to investigate the dog who has suddenly starting nipping whenever you put a collar on him. Is he suddenly turning aggressive, or does he have arthritis along his spine and he’s responding to pain? It takes a village sometimes to evaluate an animal – physically, socially – and not every rescue is equipped to do that.
I respect that. There are so many animals thrown away by unfeeling folks. The numbers are staggering, and doing something is better than doing nothing for all these poor creatures. (Though even then, there are sensible limits if you truly care about animal welfare.) But I have also come to admire the rescues who want to get to know me better, who spend a lot of time getting to know the animals in their care and can provide the medical and other care needed. Marley and I (years ago, when we knew a lot less!) adopted a dog that no one really knew much about and it was a disaster. We had to return the dog to the rescue which was traumatic all the way around. Bless the rescues who have time and resources to try to ensure that the match is perfect. No one succeeds all the time, but bless them for trying.
Marley and I have walked away from a couple dogs already in the process because they weren’t in good situations, hadn’t been in foster care at all, hadn’t received medical evals, and no one knew anything about them in the long run. It breaks my heart to turn away from these poor animals who have usually lost their homes for reasons beyond their control. But we can’t bring a dog we know nothing about into a house with seven cats, not to mention the two of us, and just hope things will be okay.
Monday we’re going to meet a lab, born blind, whose person passed away unexpectedly. We had a great conversation with the person who is fostering him, who is clearly dog-savvy, and it sounds like it could be a match. There has to be a connection, and we won’t know if it exists until we meet the guy, but we’re looking forward to seeing if it feels like a good fit. The organization fostering him is one my group partners with on the cat side, and they have been able to take many of the kittens we pull off the streets, and get them into homes. So they know me, and I know them, and I feel good about that whole piece.
Ultimately, we want two dogs again, and whether or not the lab likes us and vice versa, we’re hoping at least one of the dogs will come from a group I’ve quickly fallen for, Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue. Their application process was detailed, as was the interview with them. But that detailed application is a great way for a potential adopter to really hone in on what they might be looking for. And the conversation with the adoption volunteer – a very lengthy one where we both told stories and exchanged ideas – convinced me that these people are ones after my own heart. They evaluate their dogs socially and medically, and I know that any dog we might adopt from them is likely to be exactly the right fit for us. It might take some time to find that right dog, but we’re willing to wait. If we end up with the lab, we hope to find him a companion dog from DVGGR. If the lab isn’t a good fit, maybe we’ll find two dogs from the place. I haven’t met any of them personally yet, but they feel like family even at this early stage.
While we wait, I check the adoptable dogs page daily, hoping the right one pops up. Stay tuned, and keep your paws crossed that the meeting with this lab goes well on Monday. He sounds like a dog that needs a good place to land. We’re ready to stop being dogless. The house is just too empty. And for those of you who follow me, you know that Hiro, one of our cats, will be glad to have a dog again.
He’s gotten over the worst of his grief, but he would be glad for a new canine companion. With any luck, it will be a dog like Butterscotch, that doesn’t mind that the cat wants to walk him or her. Hiro would be very glad to have a dog to walk again, and so would we.