So hard to rescue

So we have been exploring the idea of adding a new dog to the family. It has been almost a year since Smooch died, and this is the longest we have been without a canine family member.

We decided to go the rescue route for an older puppy so we would know about his/her personality, know he/she would not torture the cats, etc. Rescue dogs usually live in a foster family, so you know more about them vs going to the animal shelter and getting a dog who has an unknown background and has been confined to a cage.

We have had a huge range of experiences with the rescue approach, and I have been surprised at how difficult it can be to provide a dog a home when he/she doesn’t have one. This has been our experience without naming any organizations.

Rescue organization #1. I filled out the application, complete with references. One of the references said that after her phone call, not only would we be approved to adopt a rescue, but I also probably have a certain level of FBI clearance based on the in depth questions she was asked. After the reference check was the phone interview. When I explained that I had written a book about our last dog, the interviewer stated that she did not think I was ready for a new dog, maybe we should consider fostering a dog. I quickly responded with a hard no. We have a saying in our house “once in the family, always in the family.” No one comes into the family and then is sent away.

Two weeks later we had a home visit to assess our home and see how we interacted with a large dog. Hello, the smallest dog we have ever owned was a Basset Hound. I made sure the teens were on their best behavior for this visit. At the end of the visit, the assessor said it was nice to meet both of us (me and the husband) and that he asked really good questions and I was “softer in person.” Apparently I was too intense on the phone. She ended the visit with these facts – they place 70-80 dogs a year and have over 300 applications. The husband did the math. This was a popularity contest we were not going to win.

Other rescue things we have learned:

Never call or email about a dog without submitting a full application. No rescue group will even respond to you without the full application.

Give your vet authorization to talk to rescue folks. If they call your vet and you have not given authorization, your application will be thrown away.

So I decided to go with a less judgmental Rescue #2 based on the recommendation from a friend. Filled out the application, found an amazing dog that would be a great addition to our family. After I learned this dog was available, I even shared his picture with my inner circle. I was so excited, and he had a great name. Three hours later I got an email that he had been adopted that day.

Here is how Rescue #2 works. You fill out an application (no vet check or reference check) and then you can visit the available dogs daily from 2-6pm. It is literally first come, first serve. So if I have an appointment to meet Spot at 4pm, but someone comes at 2:30pm and likes him, he is gone by the time I get there. A friend who used this rescue said you have to apply and then be ready to pounce if you see a dog you like.

And that is what I did on Thursday. I grabbed my morning caffeine and went to the rescue website. I saw that there were several new dogs listed, and one in particular caught my eye. This was the description for the dog:

X is as smart as he is handsome, a classic dog in every regard.  Crate and potty training are in the rear view mirror.  He is very even keeled and just as sweet.  X loves attention but is never demanding.  He plays well with our dog and is respectful of our cats and chickens. His hypnotic gaze and constant slow wagging tail are very seductive, no doubt he will soon be able to read your mind. X is a certified all round best in show. Please come meet X and you will find your forever Valentine.

I made an appointment for 3:30pm (the earliest available), grabbed a new leash while picking up dinner items and headed to meet this amazing dog.

Rescue #2 was a total zoo. Only 3 staff to process over 10 adoptions. People coming to visit had to wait until those adoptions were completed before meeting new dogs. I waited over an hour.

The first thing the staff person said when she brought me to meet X was that he was super high energy and had been returned to the rescue because he was “too much to handle.” What? I kept thinking about that description on the website…never demanding, hypnotic gaze, slow wagging tail. And X was super handsome, but he was all over the place in the meeting area. This dog would have tortured my cats. I politely said I thought I should come back with my children to see how they are with him, and the staff person said ok, but she wouldn’t be able to hold him for me and he would probably be gone by then.

That’s when I put it all together. Descriptions of the dog online get you to come and then the possibility of the dog being gone if you don’t adopt right on the spot. Not what I had in mind with a rescue. I was looking for an organization that wanted to find the best fit for our family and our new canine family member.

So for now we are staying put as a cat only family, but I have to say this experience with rescue organizations has left a bad taste in my mouth. I also know that we will have another dog, when the time is right.

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