Monday, July 7, 2014

In Search of The Perfect Dog

This is the third installment in a series about the loss of our dog and our search for a new one. 

Our dog Pepper was killed a few weeks ago and word has gotten out that she is gone. The wildlife have been peering in our windows at night, taunting us. If you have not yet read the story of the evening we lost Pepper, here is the link: Saying Goodbye to PepperIn our search for another dog we’ve had some real adventures. I’ve talked to a lot of folks, visited a lot of websites, driven a lot of miles, sent a lot of emails and texts, and learned a lot about dogs and people. Many of the shelters and animal rescue organizations have adoption fees that are as high or higher than the puppy breeders they seem to have such a low opinion of. The people who work at the shelters where I have made inquiries have been intimidating. They have interviewed me, almost suspiciously, like I am there to steal a dog and mistreat it, instead of rescue it and give it a home. The whole experience has been nothing like I thought it would be. These dogs need homes but the screening process to get one is ridiculous. Keep in mind I have been through the international adoption process for a HUMAN baby.

Last Saturday, shortly after returning the two dogs that murdered our cat, caused our rabbit a nervous breakdown, and got sprayed by a skunk, I visited a shelter in Kansas City. The reason that I went to this particular shelter was because they were advertising a no fee day. I saw the ad on Craig’s List and heard it advertised on the radio as well. They claimed they had over a hundred dogs to choose from. Upon arrival, I explained that I was there because I had seen their ad for the free adoptions. The employee I was with had not heard of this “no fee day.” She said they took donations and I would be expected to give a donation. She explained that their suggested donation was $350 but they never expected less than $100. I nicely asked her to make sure that the ad got taken off Craig’s List and I moved to leave. She asked me to wait while she went to talk to the manager. She came back and said that if I did not want to leave a donation then I would still be able to adopt. So…. I was “interviewed.” I told her we wanted a mid to large sized dog, NOT a puppy, good with kids and cats. The first two dogs she showed me were one-year-old pups with way too much energy. The third dog was a shepherd-mix that I really liked. He was eight-years-old and so calm. Calm is right up my ally. I had just spent two nights with those two hyper dogs I had “borrowed.” (link to "Stinkin' Dogs and A Traumatized Rabbit") The third dog was the kind of dog who would lie on the porch all day. Did I mention he was calm? I was pretty sure this dog was the one I wanted but the family at home had been watching on Facetime. They were not so sure. I was open to look a little longer. After all, the shelter advertised that they had at least 100 dogs up for adoption. The girl left the room and came back saying I had seen them all. All three. They had three dogs that met my criteria. Three. I asked her to check again. She brought in a two year old female Golden Retriever mix. The family on the phone said THIS dog was the one. You know what I saw? I saw Trooper, the Yellow Lab that I described to you in a previous post, the dog that shredded the kids’ trampoline and anything else he was able to sink his teeth into, the dog that made my life miserable for over two years. I let those kids and my husband talk me into saying, “yes” to that Golden Retriever. So… Did I bring home a dog? No. Let me explain…

AFTER I looked at those 100, I mean four dogs, and picked out the dog we wanted, I had to fill out a lengthy application that would need to be approved. I was honest. We wanted an outside dog. This caused the girl who was helping us to raise her eyebrows. Apparently, people who do not allow their dogs into their living rooms are not worthy of owning a pet. We could not adopt a pet from this shelter unless we were going to have it inside our house as “part of our family.” What I wanted to scream as I left? “IT’S A DOG!!!!  GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!” What I quietly said instead? “Thanks for your time.”

Back to square one I went. I saw an ad from a very large shelter in Kansas City, Missouri that claimed they had 900 dogs. The ad said they had “farm dogs” and had no requirements about inside/outside pets. Adoptions were only $25 for the time being due to their over crowding. They claimed all pets were already spayed or neutered and if they were in need of any vet care in the first 30 days it was covered. THIS sounded like the perfect place to find a new dog! So… two of my girls and I made the trip over to see these 900 dogs. I am starting to wonder if these people can count. They had eighty or ninety dogs in pens, almost all of them were Pitbulls. Some had been there for months, even years. Some were lying in their own urine and feces. The place reeked and as I wandered through the aisles I marveled at the cruelty that was being called “humane treatment” here. Sure all these dogs were spared at this no-kill shelter, but is it really better to keep all these Pitbulls and Pitbull mixes for long periods of time in these small cages? I believe the humane thing to do would be to put them down. THAT, however, is NOT the politically correct way of thinking in this day and age. Unborn humans are aborted and it is a mother’s “right” while our society protests loudly at the idea of euthanizing an animal.

This particular organization had two other locations and we were told there were some great dogs there suitable for farm life. At the second location all of the dogs had kennel cough. They sounded horrible. We really liked three of the dogs at the second location and expressed interest in bringing one, or even two, home. Our favorite was a very calm Australian Cattle Dog. He was so calm he was almost lethargic and I questioned them about his demeanor and his health. I even joked that he seemed “depressed.” I do not know much about dogs but I knew something was not right. They claimed he was just new to them and scared. He did not appear scared to me, but ill. We asked for permission to adopt more than one dog. We were denied the other two dogs we liked because, despite the claim that they had no “indoor” requirements, they did not like the idea of these two dogs being outside animals. They claimed their hair was too long for the heat. They had both been strays and both were old. One was a Lab and one was a shepherd mix and neither had very long hair. I wanted to say, “You have got to be kidding me! My grandparents had many longhaired dogs when I was growing up and no air conditioning for them OR their dogs. None of them died of heatstroke!” What I quietly said instead? “OK. You know more about dogs than I do.”

As I was signing the final paper on the shorthaired cattle dog they WOULD allow us to have, it was revealed to me that the dog had a bad case of heartworms and I would have to return to Kansas City, Missouri for the free treatments. I had asked them more than once if there was something wrong with that dog and they said there was not. We left without a dog. Again.

We did not give up though! We drove to the third location. These folks were from the same organization as the other two locations but seemed much more motivated to send us home with a dog. There were only eight dogs to choose from but we found one that the girls and I really liked. They cat tested him for us and he seemed a little “iffy” but it looked do-able. I filled out form after form and we walked out of there with our new friend. I had dog-shopped for seven and a half hours. We got home and played out in the yard for the rest of the evening. We carefully introduced the dog to our kittens. It looked like he was going to be fine…. And then SNAP. Shawn had to dig another hole and Sydney cried another bucketful of tears. The next morning, it was back to the shelter for our new friend and I was out a $25 adoption fee and one more nights sleep. At least there was no incident with a skunk at 2:00 AM. Returning the dog to the shelter was very humbling and I hated to do it. I thought he was a perfect fit before he killed the cat. My oldest son has teased that I should stop consider any animals from very far away because I always have to make the trip twice, once to pick the dog up and once to return it. Sad, but true


After I returned that dog I went to yet another shelter. Compared to the other places I’d been this shelter was like a doggie spa and the prices reflected it. I left there with empty arms, discouraged, and determined that I was finished with shelters. From there I visited a veterinary office where I had been told there was a free five-year-old English Setter. She was beautiful but was said to have the tendency to wander and I sure do not want a dog that I have to keep on a chain. THAT is what I consider inhumane. I have spent the last three days making phone inquiries, answering ads, and even considering some puppies in need of a new home. Puppies? I must be getting desperate! There are quite a few people seeking homes for their dogs right now. I was offered a black Lab with high energy through a Facebook message. I talked to a woman about a large Boxer mix that is used to being inside most of his day. I got excited about a lead on an Australian Shepherd but he hates cats. I talked to another lady through Facebook who has three dogs she’d like to stay together but three is probably one too many. I made arrangements to meet a woman in Kansas City with a mixed breed dog and she stood me up. I was offered an Australian Shepherd who has a bad case of heartworms and has a history of running away. I was offered an elderly dog with arthritis, a one-year-old hound that is covered in ticks and afraid of people, a three-legged dog, and a dog that has to be rehomed because he barks all night and day and his neighbors are complaining. I suppose if you think about it people do not try to find a new home for many “perfect” dogs like our dogs Red or Pepper so I will have to be patient I suppose. It is hard to be patient and I have been thinking that maybe I should give up, put a collar on one of the raccoons that like to dump over my trashcan and name him Rex. This whole dog hunt has been frustrating but I am determined to keep my sense of humor. I have walked away from animal shelters shaking my head because I was approved to adopt a child but I cannot be approved for a dog at many of these places. I guess the difference is that I did not say my daughter would be an “outside” child. HA. I never knew how “mistreated” out past dogs have been because they slept outside. And our dogs certainly had no clue. The last two were miserable when we insisted they come inside the heated garage in extreme cold weather or snowstorms. Pepper shredded the sheet rock around two of our garage doors trying to get back out when we brought her in. Tomorrow I hear back from a family who has puppies that are Australian Shepherd mixes and the next day another family is bringing their Doberman over for us to meet. Someday, eventually, I will post a picture below I hope!
Sydney and Murphy
July, 2014

And here it is.... Our puppy Murphy. She is an Australian Shepherd mix, only eight weeks old and even I am head over heals in love with her. After having her one night Sydney asked me, "Are you gonna take her back?"  Poor Sydney. She thinks we only have dogs here for one or two nights now and they have to be returned. I told her that this one is here to stay. 

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