The Guilt of the (Dog) Adoption Process


Earlier last week, as you may have gathered from my previous post, I was having a tough go of things in the dog-search. Though I’ve spent most days searching and perusing through city and county animal shelters online, I had decided to slow down to keep from overwhelming myself.

Then on Tuesday afternoon, out of morbid curiosity, I decided to check out the website of the shelter near my home. That’s when I saw Mercedes for the first time. The info sheet described her as a hound mix but she had the features of a taller and larger terrier. Red fawn and white coloring, a nervous look on her face, but adorable. I decided after work I’d go visit her.

On Tuesday I stopped by and found her kennel. She wasn’t timid to approach the kennel door, her tail wagged, but there was a faint whine in her exhales. I looked at her age and at 7 years old, realized she was a bit older than I had expected and wanted.  Based on her age and her reaction to being in there, it seemed like she hadn’t been in this spot before.

I went back out to the front desk and asked if I could meet her. The girl at the desk told me they were closing shortly, and closed on Wednesday, so I’d have to return on Thursday to meet her. I did find out while chatting with the desk person that her owners were homeless, and had to surrender her.

She was a little older than what I was looking for, but I thought it wouldn’t do any harm to visit her and see if we “clicked”. I decided to come back Thursday.

I rushed down on Thursday afternoon to meet her, and was promptly told she was just spayed and was recovering, so I’d have to wait to see her tomorrow.

On the third night, I came back to see her once again. My mom, who also lives close and shares my affinity for dogs, met me there. That was when we found out that she was actually about 9 years old, and was already showing some foggy vision according to her vet check sheet. 7 years old was already a stretch, but 9? That made it tough. The employee mentioned that she was more on the aloof side and a “hang out” dog. I was fine with that, but then said she because of her age, she was a little more selective with other dogs. She claimed that Mercedes was probably not a “dog park” dog. Okay, a little older, and not a dog to take to dog parks. A social dog is important to me, so this was another hit. Still, I felt compelled to meet her.

The shelter adviser took her out of her kennel and left her alone with my mom and I in a secured area. Sure enough, she was aloof. She cared more about sniffing around the secured area than she did with us, or toys. But once in a while, I could get her to come to me. She’d mosey over slowly, tail wagging, and greet me. And in the same amount of time she’d move on to smell something else. As time went on, she’d come to me more often and spend a little more time with me. She started to hook me.

When the adviser came back in and asked me what I thought, I was speechless. I told her that I didn’t know, and I actually didn’t know. Mercedes tugged on my heart strings in a weird way.  Maybe it was the fact that any interest in people that she did show, it was in me. Or the fact that I knew she would be a really “chill” dog — a perfect introduction dog to my boyfriend who had never owned (and never cared to own) a dog. But I knew there were a couple things against her.  I put her on hold so that I could think about her, and talk to my boyfriend about her.

Once I left the shelter I felt the most torn I have in a while. When I got home and my boyfriend asked about her, I explained the internal debate going on in my head. He immediately vetoed her based on age, and I burst into tears.

I can’t tell if it was because he told me no, and I had gotten attached to her in our short visit or that I knew she wasn’t the right dog for us but again, I had found myself attached.  By the end of the night, I realized it wasn’t a right fit and I was going to have to release the hold on her, but it wasn’t without sadness. I shed tears both that night and the next morning. Even last night when I thought I had it under control, I was overcome with emotion again.

Now I’ve committed myself to waiting a month or two to try to find another dog again. The emotional rollercoaster I went through just for this one dog will kill me if I have to do it again, or too soon. I also don’t think I can go to that shelter or visit their website while she is still there. It will break my heart too much.

Because of her age, I know that it will be more difficult for her to find a home than it is the other dogs that are nowhere near as easygoing as she was. And I hate that I am one of those people passing her up based on her age. The guilt is immeasurable.

Have you ever been attached to a dog and logic (or partners) overruled it? How did you handle it? Do you think it happened for a reason?

Let me know.


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