There is no other one who can take your place
I feel happy inside when I see your face
I hope you believe me
‘Cause I speak sincerely
and I mean it when I tell you that I need you
You’re my best friend
and I love you, and I love you
Yes I do
Weezer, My Best Friend
So I have decided to get myself a new dog. It’s been far too long since I had an animal companion in my life and it just feels right to correct that, now. Probably partly because I am living alone, and partly because I feel like I am starting a new phase of life. In any case, I’m looking around for a golden retriever because I simply adore that particular breed.
So, first step, I check the local paper. So far, nothing.
Next, I look online at Craig’s List (I don’t think they allow animals to be posted, so there is nothing) and then search for Goldens in Colorado. I find a number of breeders and a number of Retriever Rescue organizations.
So, I ponder this: I really want to get a puppy, because living in a small apartment and living my lifestyle, I need to know that I have a well trained, well behaved animal. I prefer crate training, so I cannot take in an animal that has been locked up and abused (at least in that particular way), and I can’t have an animal that is excessively skittish around strangers. But, just the same, I decide to check out the rescue’s thinking they may occasionally have puppies, even if they are a little older than most breeder animals.
So what do I find? Every single one of these organizations requires an application – okay; a phone interview – I suppose to make sure people are taking in a dog for the right reasons, fine; and an at home inspection. Hmmm. Turns out, they all require a yard, durably and functionally fenced. Now, I understand the reasoning, but it still seems strange to me as an absolute rule. But then I recall my previous adoption experience.
Years ago, when my son was still a toddler, we decided to get a dog. He was at the perfect age to start learning how to interact with an animal. I didn’t want him to grow up afraid of dogs, nor did I want him to become ambivalent of worse toward other animals. So we decided to go to the local animal shelter and find a dog.
We went over to check it out and were first surprised at the cost: it was almost as costly as buying a purebreed. But we decided that we would be okay with that. At least we knew the money was going to a good cause. Next, we were again surprised by the application process. We filled out this detailed application questioning everything about our life and, if I recall correctly, something on the order of a personality test as well. But hey, we were good sports, we filled it all out and continued on through the awkward discussion with one of their volunteers. Awkward is the “nice” way to put it: we were grilled and inspected and made to feel very much like we were assumed to be sadistic animal torturers.
But we got through it and finally went back to see the animals they had available for adoption. Ended the day picking a young middle aged Siberian Husky named Nome. He was beautiful and he was comfortable around my son without being too frisky (after all he outweighed my kid by at least two to one. We took him home, made him comfortable and figured we were all set.
Then we went over the fence for the first time. We chased him down and finally got him home again. Then he went over the fence a second time at two in the morning. We wandered, calling for him until almost four am without a sighting. Gave up and went to bed, only to get an angry call from the shelter at nine am: the police had found him and brought him in. We told them about our midnight adventure, but obviously we were lying and totally negligent.
Brought him home again, with advice from the shelter to put in a contraption that would prevent him from jumping the fence. It sounded cruel and restrictive to me, so we opted out, but we did stop letting him go into the yard by himself… so we spent a lot more time monitoring him. Then one day, I ran out to the store and came home to find the front window screen busted out. He went straight through it. So now we had to keep the house closed up so that he couldn’t charge through the windows (with a horrible thought in the back of my head that he might try going through an actual window.)
Of course, he did get out again, and the police did pick him up again, and the shelter did call and harangue me about our horrible record of dog ownership. And then she told me that, turns out, Nome had heartworm – they had not yet gotten the test results when we adopted him, but now they had. They were willing to take him and treat him, but they could not guarantee that he would survive. At this point, I was at my wits end. I told them to take him back and treat him, and if he was okay, then they would have to find him new owners. I couldn’t take it any more. This, of course, just confirmed to them that they never should have let us have an animal in the first place because we were bad people.
Later, I found out more information about beautiful Nome. Turns out the shelter got him because the farmer that owned him previously, couldn’t keep him from running off. Apparently 100 acres wasn’t enough room for him. But the shelter people, while making us out to be horrible, and questioning everything, never once questioned placing him in a 700 square foot house with a small yard in the suburbs. And never ever considered the possibility that no one, under those circumstances, could keep that dog from running.
Needless to say, that left a really bad taste in my mouth.
So now, once more, it looks like I will finding my dog through a breeder, not because I wouldn’t like to take in a dog that is otherwise unwanted, but simply because I refuse to be treated like a monster just because I’m willing. And the worst part: all of the bs they put people through in the adoption process doesn’t actually protect the animals. It just makes the people doing the work feel like they are protecting them… and backs that feeling up with a bunch of bureaucratic paperwork. If they really wanted to make sure that these animals were going to good homes, they’d skip all of the bs they do now, and spend that money on follow up visits. And make sure people know that follow ups will occur and neglect or abuse will be prosecuted.
But that’ll never happen. It makes entirely too much sense.