We Are Unfit To Adopt A Dog

When the lady told me on the phone that we cannot adopt a dog, because we don’t fulfill the shelter’s requirements, I was stunned. Sometimes the past comes back with a vengeance, this was one of the times. We have fought so hard to keep our dogs. It hurt me. It also showed me once again how much bureaucracy and strict rules can hurt the actual cause.

Deep in my heart, I know they mean well. They protect the rescue dogs from abuse and negligence, and they are trying to find good new families. In her eyes we are not a good home, we neglected our dogs. It hurt to hear her say that.

Perhaps I should have shared parts of our history, but that evening on the phone, I didn’t feel like it. Instinctively I knew I would only humiliate myself and it wouldn’t change a thing. When I hung up I felt wounded.

Was she right? Am I right? What’s in the dog’s best interest? Are we bad dog owners? Goodness, I worked as a volunteer for animal rescue for over twenty years -it’s almost comical to be denied.

We had been honest when we filled out the application. We had named our past dogs by name, breed (breed mix), and the age when they died. RIP 14, 10, 14, 17, and of course, we listed our Patches, a spoiled 6-years-old pitbull mix. All but one of our dogs are/were rescued pets, adopted or foster-adopted by us in the last twenty years -that’s the time frame they asked for.

I had written down the name and phone numbers of all the veterinarians and clinics we go to now, or have used in the last twenty years. Of course, there was a two-year gap between 2011 and 2013, the time when we couldn’t afford a vet or vaccinations, a time in our past when I bought flea medication at eBay and got the heartworm medications from a friend who knew I couldn’t afford it.

Sadly, that’s all the lady noticed, the two years of NOT CARING that happened ten years ago. If she would only know how much we cared!

Maybe taking in a new dog at this time in our life was not a good idea, to begin with. To be honest, we are not ready for a new dog, we lost our pitbull mix Norman this year, and we still talk about him every day, but it’s not us who needs another companion, it’s our Patches, who has never been an only dog. While she enjoys the attention and the treats, we can tell she feels lost at times. She goes outsides and looks around like she hopes our Norman would still run toward her for their daily playtime. She often turns around and looks at me like she is saying, “What now…?”

Patches, meeting her new ‘Mom and Dad’ in 2016.

I haven’t dared to shampoo our living room carpet since Norman left us. He had a spot in front of our TV stand, where he lay down at night, so he could have an eye on all of us. Now every night, Patches goes there and rubs her face in it. Then her tail starts wagging, she rests at the same place for about five minutes and it looks like she is at peace. I learned about grieving when I watched my dog mourn but that’s food for thought for another post. Every time I want to give the carpet a good cleaning, I postpone it for another week.

Not being able to adopt would force us to buy a dog, which is against my beliefs, because so many dogs are waiting to find a home. Buying a puppy? Aren’t we too old for a puppy?

I went into the living room and shared the bad news with my husband, who didn’t seem to care at all.

“The right dog will find us,” is all he said. (So typical man isn’t it?)

I felt shocked and still in disbelief. I thought about all the cats and dogs we had helped throughout the years. The kittens we took in when the neighbor kids were cruel, the stray animals that somehow found the entry to our garage or yard. “We are unfit,” it echoed in my head. Where were we bad dog owners back then? Once or twice I mixed ground beef with rice or noodles and even made pancakes for them when money was tight. They were never hungry, never hurt, never thirsty, and always loved. We couldn’t prove the purchase of the Heartguard, nor the vaccination I bought from a farmer, who knew a vet, who had no problem selling us the vaccines much cheaper.

We cared, we tried. Did we not try hard enough? We smoked and even had beer and wine in the house when we moved to Memphis. Don’t go there Bridget, we lived, thought we were doing the right thing.

Yet, we were denied to adopt of an adult pitbull mix or the older Doberman girl we had applied for.

The right dog will find us!

Two days later one of my young helpers called me in the morning.

“Are you still looking for a dog?”
“Not really,” I heard myself say, still sulking over the fact that we were considered unfit dog owners.
“We found a puppy today in the morning in a sink.”
“What do you mean in a sink?” (I am not very smart first thing in the morning)

Turns out one of the tenants had left a puppy in the sink in the building’s maintenance room. A woman had moved out that night, and the empty apartment had fresh pee stains on the carpet. For whatever reason, she had decided to leave the puppy behind and left it at a place where it could be found.

“What breed is it?” And he didn’t answer but sent a picture.

The Sink Puppy

“Awe,” because that’s sometimes all I can say, and from there it went.

I called my husband, sent him the picture, and talked back and forth with him and my helper.

When I looked at my calendar I knew we couldn’t take him. With two deadlines (behind on both) and a short out-of-town trip, we just couldn’t swing it. Also, we were not prepared to take a puppy in.

“I call you back,” my helper said and he did.

“We can take him for a couple of days,” he informed me and before I knew what hit me, we had agreed to take in the abandoned puppy. It’s funny how it works sometimes, isn’t it? First, we are declared to be unfit, then we become rescuers again -just in a different way.

We had three days to get ready. We bought a used medium-size crate because the giant one we have would be too much. We purchased puppy pads, a collar, a fluffy blanket (because every dog needs its own blanket), and a playpen for the inside, so he can play and enjoy life in my workroom or in the house with us until he is older to roam free and unsupervised.

And so the puppy was on its way to spend a few nights at my helper’s house and a few GREAT dogs.

The introduction went well. The puppy is friendly and fearless.

He chased the Great Danes around for a couple of days, barked, and whined in his crate -succeeded and made it in my helper’s bed.

Thursday the night he arrived at our home. He barked up a storm a Patches -it made my ears hurt- he peed on my already dirty carpet, and he whined in the kennel. Oh, how wonderful it is to have a puppy!

It all has changed.

We named him Vader, this time it was my turn to come up with a name and when I threw “Charlie” in the room because I adore Charlie Chaplin, nobody seemed impressed.

“How about “Vader” like Darth Vader from Star Wars?” It was a hit. The young man, a friend, and my husband instantly liked it and so the puppy’s faith was sealed. Vader it is!

The puppy has calmed down a lot. He knows how to sit, barks only when he needs to go outside and he goes in his crate during the day and visits his heartbeat puppy-toy, for which I paid $29 because you can’t find an old ticking alarm clock anywhere these days. A stuffed animal, with a battery-operated heart that makes a silent heartbeat noise. What a genius idea -money well spent. He had no more accidents in the house, the whining and barking have stopped.

Lots of tail wagging going on. Lots of new moments with a new four-legged family member. Maybe we needed the puppy too but didn’t realize it. He has a paint stain on his nose from his maintenance room, we are trying to get rid of it -haven’t succeeded so far.

It took our dog Patches 24 hrs to adjust, it’s now HER PUPPY. They are playing hard, she goes with him outside each and every time, and they even lie down on the same bed, sleeping together. She gave me THE LOOK when I scolded him, and they eat out of one bowl.

It’s time to shampoo the carpet, time to add new memories to the old and cherished ones we already have. A new puppy is perhaps the best medicine to enter a new stage of remembrance, the time when we will smile and laugh when we talk about Norman, Leia, and all the other dogs-the granddogs our new puppy will never meet but hear about.

Still a paint stain on his nose.

Vader is a Doberman mix, he has the Doberman bell-marking on his behind. The other part is unknown, it’s going to be fun to watch. An abandoned puppy found a home and the senior dogs we were applying for, will hopefully find a new family soon as well.

Would I change a thing if I could go back in time?


20 thoughts on “We Are Unfit To Adopt A Dog

  1. I’m so excited and happy for you guys and for Vader! I think many rescue organizations are overly selective. It’s like they don’t want to give up any of the dogs they’ve got. We can’t do rescue because the place we live doesn’t allow fences. We live on 1.5 acres, and have had 3 shelties over our 32 years of marriage. The first one came with my husband and I like to tell him she was the best part of the package. She died at age 10 from some sort of blood disease. Her name was Daisy and she was a very good girl. The second one we got as a puppy from a back yard breeder (we didn’t know better back then) two weeks after Daisy died. She lived to be almost 14, died of a seizure. She’d had seizures and a heart murmur her whole life and was on meds for it. She was a very good girl. And then came Katie-girl. We got her from a breeder who called US because she needed a home and had been rejected by the person she’d been sold to. (That woman was crazy!) She died when she was 15.5 of kidney disease, though we spent thousands getting her meds and surgury to extend her life…and several hundred to release her when she began to be sad at the end. Yet we are deemed unfit to give a shelter dog a forever home too. I miss every one of our 3 dogs and think they all lived their best life with us. I think the same about your dogs, they all lived their best lives with you. I’m so happy the right little (soon to be big) guy came to you. Enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Keep your eyes open, there are many dog who are looking for a good home. We call them “Covid-dogs” they have been taken in during the lockdown, and know, people get back to ‘normal’ or the move job-wise and the dogs (and cats) need a new owner because of it.

      As for needing a fence, I think that’s nonesense. I think certain breeds might need one, or it’s good to have one when it pours outside and you don’t want to go outside, but it should not be a requirement.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had an old beloved dog once. Got him when he was 8 weeks old. Had him till he was 15 1/2 years and loved him very much. Went everywhere with me. Like my right arm. He was the very definition of good. Very gentle, super intelligent.

    So I took him to a kennel once because I was going somewhere that didn’t allow dogs, I think (it was a long time ago). It was only for a few days while I travelled. Then I came back to get him. I discovered immediately when his eyes were glued shut that the kennel had pepper sprayed him, a 10 year old at that time, to shut him up because he barked for me. This was confirmed a bit later by a vet. I was irate, but the lady running the joint was vicious. Not when she was taking my money though.

    He wasn’t licensed. I don’t believe in renting family members from the state. So what did this lady do when I complained to the Department of Animal Regulation? She told them that my dog was not licensed, and that’s all the lady who ran the department was interested in. I told her what the kennel had done, but she only cared that I hadn’t paid the fees to have him. Period. It’s eaten at me for years. There’s WAY too many of these self-important creepers around in my opinion.

    I’m glad your dog found it’s way to you after that officious lady denied you. I can tell you’ll take care of him.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m so delighted to meet Vader. What a precious dog! And so fortunate to have found your loving home. I sincerely mean that. I have heard stories among friends of their disappointment in being told they, too, were not deemed worthy of both cat and dog adoptions. It’s always just made me crazy. We euthanize pets because there aren’t enough homes, and people are turned down for not meeting at times very unrealistic expectations. But as your husband predicted, it did wor k out in the end. You have a wonderfully pet-centric home. Sounds like everyone is happy now. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Debra. I feel exactly the same way. It doesn’t feel good to be rejected and knowing that this rejection could ultimately be the reason that another shelter dog could be euthanized, makes me very angry. I understand that they have to be selective, but this box-thinking is terrible and hurtful -not just for the humans. Vader is thriving!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think somehow the person or organization you worked with lost sight of the main purpose, which is finding a good home for a dog. No home is perfect 100% of the time. I’m just glad Vader found you! 🙂


  4. So your husband was right and you two, well three with Patches, have a new love in your lives. What an adorable pup Vader is. And I love the name! It seems to suit him (as far as I could tell from his pictures).
    Wishing you many happy years together, making new and wonderful memories 🐾 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bridget, you gripped my heart with your rejection story. Rejections hurt. Worse yet, when they are undeserved. I agreed with your husband when he said that the right dog would find you. And he was right. Oh, what a joy! How amazing that Patches has found a new playmate and companion in Vader!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This just goes to show a dog did find you, just as your husband thought. When it comes to rescues, it is rather like that. Rescues here are getting very picky about who they give dogs too. I guess they don’t want the dog to be returned but sometimes the shelters do decide incorrectly and are really harsh in their decisions. It happened like that with a very experienced pet owning friend of mine who was also rejected by a rescue. Why – because she worked too much. But like you, it worked out and another dog found its way into her heart and home. This little Vader looks adorable and will never replace your old dog, but will soften and dilute the pain of losing him. I still miss my dog I lost 6 years ago. I think of her every day.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Wow – what an adventure! 🙂
    It seems the big pictured unfolded as it ought. I love it when the ‘right’ thing happens while we are trying to ‘make’ things happen. Vader, I’m sure, found his rightful home, mistress, master, and doggy friend. A great end, or should I say, beginning!?

    Liked by 2 people

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