Friday, October 11, 2019

Third Time the Charm?

I didn't wait to start looking at dogs again. As a matter of fact, I went to the local shelter in Wisconsin just in case the perfect dog happened to live there. And I scanned our local shelter each day to make sure no perfect dogs slipped through my fingers. On the day before I was to return home, one popped up on the shelter website. I sent Gregg the link along with the message that maybe we could stop at the shelter on the way home from the airport and take a look. But by the time I had deplaned, all I wanted to do was go home. So we skipped the shelter and by the end of the day the dog had been adopted.

I had been looking for a dog at the county shelter for months but any suitable dogs were adopted quite quickly. The same 10 dogs had been there all summer long; the 10 were pitbulls, elderly dogs, a "nippy" dog, a couple that were dog (and cat) aggressive, and one "escape artist." So I decided to expand my search. I looked at dogs in other counties, the more rural ones that were about an hour's drive away.

Almost immediately I found a dog that spoke to me. He was a stray that had been quite emaciated when found, was timid, and afraid of cats. He was at an SPCA but there was no online application. I called them and was informed that they required adopters to come to their location to fill out the application and then they had to wait 48 hours while the application was processed. I asked if they had any restrictions on crates and dog doors but they assured me that they did not. I decided to give it a shot.

I drove the hour or so to the site and asked to see the inappropriately named "Valor". (I'd call him Val I decided in my head). The employee brought me to his cage and tried to coax him out. Poor Val was terrified. He cringed past the cages and outside to the run. The handler turned him loose. Val ran back and forth across the field, giddy with freedom. He stayed well out of our way, and finally stopped for a snack at a lush patch of grass on the opposite side of the chain link fence. He bent his neck to try to grab a bite but the grass was just out of reach. Val craned his neck farther and farther. Soon he was standing on his head quite determined to get some grass. I was entranced by his goofiness. I asked where to get an application and went to fill it out. The handler stayed behind trying to catch a hound that was joyfully zooming around her. I grinned.

There were no other applicants for Val when I submitted my application and I was told that there had been only one in the three weeks that he was there. That one had been rejected. I felt somewhat confident that he would be ours.

Forty-eight hours later, I called the shelter. Val had been adopted already. I was stunned. I asked why my application had been rejected. The woman who answered the phone didn't know, she transferred me to another person who could give me an answer. I asked again why my application had been rejected. I needed to know in case it was a booby trap that I hadn't thought about. It wasn't that my application had been rejected, it was because someone had come in to adopt a dog and had brought their own dog along with them. Their dog and Val had gotten along so well that the SPCA had given Val to them. No 48 hour waiting period required. They thought that the people were a "better fit" for Val. I asked how she could possibly know if they were a better fit. No one had talked to me or asked me any questions. How could they possibly know? Why was I rejected? She had no answer. I asked if I could adopt one of their other dogs, an elderly one with a large open wound on his leg.

"Of course you can!" the woman replied happily.
"So, I'm not good enough for the dog that I want," I replied. "But I'm good enough for the one you want me to have." She was incoherently trying to respond  when I hung up on her.

I cried the rest of the day (I cry every time I think about it). Since I now needed to own a dog in order to adopt a dog, my chances of adopting seemed even more remote than before.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Second Try

I waited two months after being rejected by the dog "rescue" before trying to adopt again. I talked to everyone I could about "rescues" in our area and soon realized that each "rescue" had their own ideas about what was acceptable and what wasn't and since there was no way to tell which was which, I wouldn't even be able to lie appropriately.

I spent a lot of time looking at dogs online and scanning adoption applications for potential booby-trap questions. I realized pretty quickly that I was so scarred from my experience that I started to think ALL questions were booby-traps.

"Have you ever used a retractable leash?" (Well, yeah. Ray tripped me all the time when I was using a short one. He liked to be way out front. Or way out back sniffing something while I walked on. Is a retractable leash a deal-breaker? Is it like the Dog Door of Death, as my BFF sarcastically calls it now?)
"Will you take your dog to a dog park?" (Depends on if he/she gets along with other dogs. Ray LOVED the dog park right up until the moment that he didn't. Are you a "rescue" that thinks dog parks are the root of all evil?)
"Would you hire a dog walker?" (Probably, if I were incapacitated and couldn't walk and Gregg couldn't do it and I couldn't rope one of my neighbors into doing it. Is that the right answer? Are dog walkers a BAD thing? I don't know.)
"What kind of dog behavior concerns you?" (How do I even know until something happens that is concerning. Should I admit that I'm concerned or pretend that dogs never do anything that concern a person? What is the right answer to this?)
"Why do you want a dog?" (So many reasons, but not for dog fighting. Is that what you really want to know?)
"Where will your dog sleep?" (Wherever he/she wants as long as it's not with us, unless it's a tiny dog, that might be okay. Am I supposed to say that they will only sleep in a crate behind a locked Dog Door of Death?)

Some applications I rejected immediately because of the length (6-8 pages was a bit much) or because of the intrusive nature of their questions.
"What is your annual income?" (Really??????)
"Occupation." (I can't even begin to know why they need this info unless maybe I sell dogs to labs for evil experimentation or run a dog-fighting ring, in which cases I wouldn't be likely to tell them)
"Name of your employer and how long you have worked for them." (sigh)
"How long will you go on vacation each year." (This one really raised a red flag for me. Once they know your yearly income, your address, what kind of house you live in - another of their questions - "Check one: Area around your home: Rural, Suburban, Urban," you're really a sitting duck for thieves.)

Some of the questions were scientific:
"What causes heartworm in dogs?" (I know it's transmitted by mosquitos but do they want more detailed info than that? Because I don't really know.)

One of the questions kind of stumped me:
"Do you or your home have a weight limit?" (ummmm, yes? Is that the right answer? I don't want to become overweight so I set myself a limit. Not sure about my house though. As far as I know it's not sentient. Is that what you want to know?)

Finally, I searched on "Special Needs Dogs." Maybe "rescues" trying to find homes for "Special Needs Dogs" didn't care if my home had a weight limit. I almost immediately found the perfect dog. It was an actual person trying to rehome their perfect dog that loved kids, cats, people, and other dogs. I read the description and found that her owner loved her dog but didn't have enough time to give the "coonhound mix" the exercise she needed. Nowhere was there a mention of the "Special Need." So I sent an email.

The "Special Need" turned out to be exercise. Dog was between two and three years of age, and like Ray at that age, could go and go. Her mom was a nurse who worked long days. We set up a time for Dog's mom to bring her by for a meet-and-greet.

Both Gregg and I loved the little (compared to Ray) dog. She was charming. The one big problem was, I could tell that her mom loved Dog. Despite the fact that I had told myself I wouldn't try to talk her out of it, I found myself giving advice to Dog's mom. I told her that Ray became a different dog between the age of two and three. He really calmed down. He still needed exercise but maybe she could hire a dog walker (are they bad things? I'm still uncertain.) for an hour a day. That would really help. Dog's mom's circumstances were going to change in the next year? A year goes by really fast. Maybe the dog walker could take up the slack for the year. Then I asked her, "If you decide to give her to me and I'm standing on the curb holding her leash and you drive away and look in the rearview mirror and see her straining at the leash to go home with you, will you be able to pull the trigger and drive away?" She admitted that she didn't know. I had an upcoming short trip to Wisconsin. I'd be back the week after next, she could think about it and let us know after I got back.

I got the email while I was still in Wisconsin. Dog's mom couldn't pull the trigger. She was keeping Dog. Gregg and I were both disappointed and happy at the same time.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Post Script

A few weeks ago I tried to adopt a dog from a local rescue - I've always felt that it's important to honor a past pet by rescuing another. After sending in the application, I was given a phone interview and quizzed about my answers. We didn't make it all the way through the questions before I was told rather tartly that it wasn't going to work out. I could feel it coming in the lectures I was given. I was considered an irresponsible pet owner for not agreeing to crate my dog and keep him in a locked cage behind a locked dog door while I was out of the house.

I was stunned and angry. And then I was depressed. So I went back and read Ray's old blogs. And I cried and cried. But I laughed even more. I read about all the stuff that Ray got up to and into when he was a youngster (the shoe tassels, the yarn, the toilet bowl brush and other miscellanies) and all the adventures we had together. I probably was irresponsible in some cases (walking him off a cliff was not a shining moment), but I did my best for my blind hound, despite the fact that I knew nothing about dogs, and quite frankly, I wouldn't change a thing. If I had crated him, as lectured, he wouldn't have had the opportunity to steal the prosciutto/mozzarella log at every party or do so many of the things that made his dark existence interesting.

Ray had fun. And I had fun watching him as he showed the world how to tackle life and live it to the fullest, despite the danger of an unlocked dog door and a non-existent crate.

Jan 21, 2019. Ray's last day on this earth

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


I think Ray has been reincarnated as a female crow.

A couple of weeks ago Crow landed on the front porch while Gregg and I were chillin'. I could tell by the way she tilted her head to the side while I chatted with her that she was very interested in all that I had to say. And although she looks nothing like him, the head tilt reminded me of Ray. A few days later Crow returned. I put a few pieces of cat food on the porch railing and while Crow didn't let me get too near, neither did she take flight. She waited until I had taken my seat a few feet away before she hopped to the food and picked up each piece, obviously saving it in her crop. As soon as she had it all, Crow flew. She returned a few minutes later with her significant other. I fed them both. One day she stopped by with her gigantic baby, furiously fluttering its wings wanting to be fed. Crow obliged with the pieces of cat food and I felt a bit bad knowing that I had created a welfare state.

Now, Crow stops by several times each day. I  feed her some cat food pieces and, for dessert, a piece of apple. As soon as she gets the apple, knowing that no more food is coming her way, she takes flight. When I leave the house, if she is nearby, she follows me around the yard flying from tree to tree. If I'm inside and she can't see me, she sits on the pergola or the porch railing and calls me. Sometimes she'll fly from one to the other to look in the windows to see where I am.

Crow has a lot in common with Ray. She's really smart, there's the head-tilt thing when I talk, and she loves cat food. The only thing they don't share is Crow comes when I call. Something Ray would never do unless I told him he was "going to miss it." Ray never wanted to miss anything, even if he didn't know what "it" was.

I just love the thought of Ray as a crow soaring above the trees with a bird's eye view of everything. I hope it's him, flying free.


Hangin' out on the porch