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…?”
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.
“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.
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?