We try to take advantage of area activities on summer weekends, but the problem usually is that we have lousy local news outlets – they seem almost never have notices of events ‘before’ they occur, just afterwards. I suppose it’s possible that no one has ever brought this to the attention of those who run such publications -for instance, myself included- but wouldn’t you think some such things are self evident? But it happens that we have a local “shopper’ type paper -you know, the kind that’s filled with free ads- and while looking through that, we saw an ad for a Canine Adoptathon to be held on Saturday. And so, we decided to go.
Now, we’ve been on the lookout for a dog for sometime. Actually, it’s been almost 5 years since our last dog, Zoe, passed on. I guess the fact that it’s taken this long is due in part to the reality that having a dog actually does hamper a family in what it can freely do – I also remember that we spent quite a bit of money on Zoe’s vet bills in her last year of life – that can also put a damper on future doggie enthusiasm.
Another factor that has kept us from a final decision is that I was waiting for a decision from Sandee, and she from me – and even though we had discussed this fact, it didn’t seem to make the final decision any easier.
But we’ve never shied away from the idea of getting a ‘rescue’ dog from the local pound – but we soon learned that our local pound has a few really dumb policies, one of which is that they do not allow trial visits for prospective adoptions. Frankly, I can’t think of why this policy would serve their purposes, since they remain the county’s last resort option for dogs which are picked up off the streets, or simply dropped off at their door for that matter. But nine out of ten dogs in our county shelter have practically empty data sheets on their kennel – and when you own a cat -as we do- you’d like to know if the dog you’re about to bring home is a cat killer, among other things!
And so, although we saw many nice looking dogs at that shelter, we felt we couldn’t deal with their policies. However, the organization that was running the Adoptathon was a private organization that functioned to serve families who, for one reason or another, could no longer care for their dog – and the organization tries to assist in locating a new family. And not only did they have lots of available info on their dogs, but they also had a trial visit policy.
On the Saturday of our visit, the Adoptathon was set up in an empty storefront at the local mall – as we entered, we first saw lots of cats in a big floor cage – and then a few puppies – and then, toward the rear, a few large cages with mostly small dogs, and a few medium sized ones. This is interesting, because at the county shelter, almost every dog weighs more than 40 lbs, with most well over 50 lbs. But I think the folks at the Adoptathon knew that the smaller a dog is, the easier it is to adopt it out – not only that, but when your space is limited, you can have 2, maybe 3, smaller dogs in the same space it’d take for 1 big one.
We first warmed to a very active beagle type of maybe 20 lbs – as we talked to a staffer at the cage area, she sensed we may be considering this one, and she wisely redirected our attention to an older, less active dachshund type named Henry – I’ve always thought of the dachshund look as so absurd that it made them somehow cute – but this one didn’t look like a pure bred, since it was smaller and had a dappled coat. However, he was short legged, and very long.
Henry had a very friendly disposition, and a very distinctive face – one eye was blue, and the other brown – the staffer explained that most dappled dachshunds have the same bi-colored eyes – we took Henry for a walk, and of course, he was very nervous at being in a strange place with all these new people. I really don’t know what anyone would learn from such a walk with a new pet in such an environment. I guess it allows a couple to discuss the gamut of considerations in the decision to adopt or not to adopt – and we decided that we would take Henry home with us.
It’s been a week now, since Henry has joined our family – we are among those who believe that dogs will always think of humans as simply members of their pack – therefore, the most successful dog households are those where the humans begin to think like dogs, instead of treating the new dog as a baby, which many people do. And we were delighted to learn that Henry was not new to this approach. Within a day or two, Henry was sitting on command, as well as several other basic commands – proper leash walking took an additional day or so to reintroduce, and the most critical of all dog training, housebreaking, was an immediate success. If for no other reason, I will, from this day on, only consider adopting an older dog rather than a puppy – to me, cuteness is not worth going through the agony of having to train a puppy in all the full gamut of rules and skills needed to make a successful family dog. Never again.
And how do Henry and our cat, Muffy, get alone? Well, while Muffy took an active but cautious initial attitude, Henry pretended not even to see Muffy – from my readings, this is a good sign – what it indicates is that Henry must have had some prior experience with cats, enough to know that cats are normal in a new home environment, and that cats are to be respected. Since that initial introduction, it’s obvious that Muffy has accepted Henry as a mutual house-mate, and that Henry would really like a new playmate, but Muffy is not so sure about this idea.
Truth told, Henry is Sandee’s dog, since her ideal has always been toward a smaller, lap dog. And for whatever reason, Henry seems to have bonded with Sandee more so than with me. On the other hand, my ideal dog is a mid sized Lab mix – and I’d lean toward a mutt rather than a purebred, if only because of the health issues that purebreds bring. I’d also like a dog that will chase the deer from my garden, not that a dachshund wouldn’t -they have a fearless disposition- but in my mind, a larger dog may strike more fear in the mind of the deer. I want the deer to cross off my garden from their list of foraging stops. So who knows, Henry may one day have a playmate to enrich his life, and his pack – and I may yet get my perfect deer dog.