#AdoptDontShop is the worst. It’s ruining my life. Okay, I’m over-exaggerating. Before you start thinking I’m a horrible person, I’ll retract my previous statement. Whether it’s ruining my life or not…that’s up for debate. Okay, fine. It’s not really ruining my life. Quickest debate ever. In the past few years, #adoptdontshop has been a huge social media campaign to bring awareness to the overpopulation of puppies (and kittens) that are being sold, oftentimes from “mills”, when there are plenty of homeless pets out there who also need homes. Dog shelters, rescues organizations and Adopt Don’t Shop supporters have promoted rescue as well as spaying/neutering pets as soon as possible to avoid overpopulation.
Most of the dogs in my life growing up were rescues. We had incredible luck with these rescues, mostly because my mom has this uncanny ability to pick dogs out a shelter that fit perfectly with our family. One of these dogs, Keiki, had a huge impact on my life. She was a family dog but she was my girl. Whenever I had to step outside at night, I’d call her up from her bed to follow me. She’d groggily get up and stand on the front porch, watching over me, until I came back in. She always greeted you with the most love you could get. She was sweet and silly and one of the most valued members of my family. When she was diagnosed with cancer, I wrote about it in a blog I was required to make for a class. To this day, reading it makes the tears well up.
Now, a little over two years after she passed, I am finally living in a place where having a dog is doable. My boyfriend and I live in a house with a sizeable fenced backyard, and I’ve since graduated and no longer have 14 hour days on my hands. I’m ready for a dog. Or so I thought. The truth of the matter is, shelters have very few dogs these days. At least from what I remember. I attribute this to two things:
1. Adopt Don’t Shop. It really is a great campaign, and I am glad it is helping homeless dogs find safe and happy homes.
2. In Seattle, there are actually more dogs than there are children. We love our dogs (affectionately called fur-babies) and it shows.
It really is a good thing that there are fewer dogs to choose from, but it has made it difficult for me to find the right dog for me. The dogs are either too big or too small, they don’t like children or they don’t get along with cats, they don’t like getting along with other dogs, or they’ve been through such trauma that they’re exceptionally nervous. On the few occasions I’ve been able to meet dogs in shelters, we haven’t “clicked”.
As far as getting a dog from a rescue organization, that’s a whole different ball of wax. In order to even meet the dog, you have to fill out a 6 page application detailing your job, your partner’s job, how long you’ve lived at your residence, your veterinarian’s number for reference, three separate references that can attest to your pet ownership, your training and disciplinary style, pictures of yourself, your house, your yard. I think that if you actually want to adopt the dog you have to submit fingerprints, a vial of blood and your social security number! All the while, someone else could have adopted the dog you want while you’re still writing your whole life story on an application!
Ok. Again, I am over-exaggerating. But it’s an exhausting experience. I spent half a week trying to contact a rescue home only to find out after I finally emailed the director of the organization, that the dog was going through the adoption process with someone else. And for some odd reason, there are tons of rescue orgs from Texas trying to get dogs adopted in the Pacific Northwest. Yes, they’re cute, but how am I supposed to know they’re right for me if I can’t meet them? And is it really okay to put a dog through a flight like that?!
Part of me wonders if I’m also subconsciously holding back because I know they won’t be like my Keiki. I know it’s not fair to compare, but she set the standard high. I also know that in order to find the right one for me, I just have to have patience and deal with rejection when dogs I fall for get adopted.
Has anyone else had a problem finding the right rescue dog, when they didn’t before? Am I just being a high-maintenance dog finder? Am I just being crazy?!
Let me know.