by Ryan Jo Summers
I had been dog-less nine months when it came time to adopt again. Before adopting a rescue dog, I needed a close inspection of my expectations of a dog and my ability to meet its needs. My space is limited, so I considered similar, but smaller versions of my preferred breed. I contacted rescues and toured shelters, searching for an emotional connection. Months passed.
I applied to three breed specific rescues, outlining my experience, my time limitations and dreams of having a dog again. Honesty is paramount in this step. The application process for adopting a rescue dog is very similar in any quality breed rescue. Usually it begins with an internet search or word of mouth. Pictures intrigue and an application is started. Only one group required an application fee.
While the questions seem nosy prying, they really are from people who want only to see their animals placed into permanent homes with families that will treasure them. The process for adopting a resuce dog was not unlike applying to purchase a house. I had to provide character references and a vet reference. There were also house inspections with more questions. Why this breed? Where will it be kept when I am out? What would happen to it if something terrible happened to me? Would other family members be supportive? How are other household pets expected to interact? The list is endless, and tailored to each individual applicant, all to make interested parties think about the commitment they are making.
One group called to ask even more questions. What would the deal breaker be? Had I considered this and that? No, they were not implying I was stupid or careless, just foresighted and careful. Another group requested I reinforce part of my fence.
Finally the time came to meet some dogs. I drove four hours to meet one. I wanted him. The choice was mine. I left to think it over and ultimately passed on him because he had special needs I didn’t feel I could provide. I already had a special needs cat and felt it unfair to add a special needs dog. He would find a great home, but not with me. A second group did not have anything matching my goals so I waited, touring the shelters again, watching Petfinder, and waiting.
When word finally came of some possibilities, I drove to meet them. A lovely blue merle collie caught my eye. He came from a hoarding situation, was insecure, unsocialized, had no training, was terribly underweight, matted and neglected. Yet looking into his eyes, I saw the look of intelligence, a heart of loyalty and a soul of desire. I could bond with this dog; we could eventually become best friends. Without even trying him on a leash, four months after my search began, I adopted Ty.
Life with Ty has been challenging and rewarding, progress coming in slow, steady baby steps, sometimes backward. But trust is forming, we’ll get there. One thing I would highly recommend is joining a forum while waiting for the perfect partner to appear. My rescue group has a private Facebook page where Ty has his own fan club. People follow my updates, looking for pictures. Volunteers use the positive progress for fuel to help the next one, readers weigh in with suggestions for our obstacles and those waiting to adopt their own furbaby say they are learning what they can expect.
Ryan Jo Summers is a local author who has adopted several dogs, cats, rabbits and one bird.
Caption: Ty, the adopted one. More at www.collierescue.com