Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dog Owner Audition

The more I look at pre-owned dogs online, the more I see that it's not just a matter of choosing a dog that John, Tuffy and I all consider suitable. That's certainly part of it, but the rescue organizations are mostly interesting in knowing that they and the dog being adopted will find us suitable. Aside from photo, sex, breed, age category and size, one listing I looked at merely said "X is a nice dog," followed by a paragraph that said over and over that an online application was required before they would even discuss the dog with you, let alone set up and appointment to see her. I'm not sure I'm interested enough in that particular dog to initiate this process, but I filled in most of their form anyway, without sending it. Here are some of the questions it asked (paraphrased):
  • Why do you prefer a dog that's female, 6 months to two years old and 18 lbs and up? (This group specializes in smaller dogs.) Explain. Are you flexible? Yes, we're a little flexible. But do they really need me to explain why two working adults don't want to housebreak a dog if there's a choice, or adopt an older dog when we already have one whose further life expectancy is two years at best?
  • Are you willing to adopt a dog that's been abused, is deformed or handicapped, needs ongoing medication, is not good with children, isn't housebroken, or comes only as part of a two-fer? Good grief! Should I feel guilty about saying no to most of these categories? I realize there are lots of "special needs" dogs out there, including one I looked at online tonight that's blind from birth, and another that's deaf and "mostly blind." I sincerely hope they all find good homes. But Tuffy started her life with us by wrecking two couches and some wallpaper, never got over her insecurity from having six owners in her first six weeks of life, and cost us about $3K in medical bills in 2007. After dealing with all that, and bearing in mind that we both work full time, John and I really need a dog who doesn't have "issues." A happy, healthy, mellow, friendly young dog: is that too much to ask?
  • What is the name, species, breed and age of each of your existing pets? What is its personality like? Well, you folks mostly know the answer to this bit. In the form I haven't sent, I wrote: "Tuffy Toro: mixed chow, age 12, has carcinoma on tongue (treated with surgery and radiation) . Tuffy is gentle, skittish, only mildly affectionate, and insecure. In her home she barks at strangers and runs away, but will eventually approach if not pursued, especially outside the home. Will sniff other dogs but doesn't play with them."
  • Exactly what happened to every dog you no longer have? Jenny (aka Princess Guinevere of Westcott St.): euthanized age 12, with Cushing's disease and metastasized cancer. Noodle: euthanized age 15, severe arthritis, dementia, incontinence, cataracts, etc. Will these people disapprove of putting a dog to sleep when all quality of life is gone? I dunno, but it's what we had to do.
  • How often do you have visitors? Um, do trick or treaters count? How about Girl Scouts selling cookies? Other than the guys who delivered the new refrigerator, wired the air conditioner and repaired the dryer, and the friend that looked after Tuffy during our last several trips to Disneyland, I don't think anyone other than John and myself has actually been inside this house since the week of my mom's funeral over four years ago. (That sounds bad, doesn't it? But the house is somewhat overloaded with boxes, and most of our IRL friends and all of our relatives live out of town.)
  • How will you introduce your visitors to the new dog, and what will you teach your kids about approaching a dog? I don't expect anyone else in this house anytime soon, but our experience with Tuffy is that it's best to let her decide whether to approach a visitor and when, and to be very slow and gentle in responding when she does approach.
  • How long will the dog be left alone each day, and where will she sleep? About nine hours, and anywhere she wants.

Tuffy and Noodle circa 1998
Above: Tuffy and Noodle on the couch Tuffy half-
destroyed as a puppy. Photo probably by John Blocher.

So what do you think? Do we pass muster?



barrettmanor said...

Tuffy says: "But what about dogs looking at pre-owned humans?" ;-)

Mike said...

I hope you do. They have real tough standards when it comes to adopting a dog or cat. I understand it, but it seems they lose out on a lot of really good people that way. Good luck! I hope it works out for you.