Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Greatest "High"

(Picture Left: "Goldie" -- Happy at last!)

Goldie, our older and very socialized Cocker Spaniel was finally adopted yesterday morning. As a result of her adoption, in addition to Lady's placement last week, we were able to rescue two new dogs from the shelter yesterday. But, more about that later.......

Despite being a healthy, happy, frisky and extremely loving and gentle purebred dog, Goldie was nevertheless a tough adoption. I had to keep her in boarding for more than three weeks.

What was the "problem?"

Apparently, Goldie's age.

She was somewhere between 7 and 10 years of age. (It said "10 years" on Goldie's shelter record and anything in the double digits represents problems in trying to place.)

In fact, I was speaking with Goldie's ultimate adopter for more than a week. The woman's biggest concern was Goldie's age.

"I would hate to adopt a dog that might get sick or die. That would be devastating to my kids," Donna said to me.

And no, I could not lie to the woman and promise that Goldie would live ten or fifteen years.

But, I could easily see Goldie going another 5 to 8 years.

By that time, Donna's kids would be in college.

Donna and I had several, rather long conversations about Goldie.

The family had been seeking a Cocker Spaniel for some time. (Donna grew up with one.) To their credit, they did not want to purchase a dog, but instead wanted to adopt from a shelter or rescue. They wanted to help save a dog.

But, the reality is, that most smaller dogs that come to shelters or rescues, are, in fact, older.

Like declawed cats, it is rare that people would spend a great deal of money to purchase (or declaw) an animal and then dump the pet a few months or even a couple of years later. That is, unless the animal has very serious medical or behavioral problems. For example, there was an adorable, purebred 4-month-old Shih Tzu puppy at the shelter the other day. The puppy was brought in by people who "couldn't afford" to have their pet treated for a case of Mange. (One wonders of course, how the people could "afford" to buy an expensive Shih-Tzu puppy in the first place -- unless, of course the puppy was a "gift" from someone else.)

Aside from the unwanted "gifts" or people who can't deal with the training or exercise needs of a puppy, most smaller dogs given up to shelters are mature dogs who usually arrive due to some kind of changes to or issues of the owner. In Goldie's case, her former family had "personal problems" -- whatever that means.

At the same time she was speaking with me, Donna was also in contact with another rescue group in Connecticut. They had a two-year-old Cocker Spaniel for adoption, and like us, had the dog in boarding.

While understandably anxious to place their rescued dog, the group's spokesperson was honest with Donna in telling her the young Spaniel had "issues with strangers" and would require adopters with patience and experience and perhaps training help in dealing with the problem.

I told Donna honestly that such problems are not solved overnight and a dog who has fear issues with strangers would not be appropriate for a family with children. Even if the dog learned to love the kids in the home, s/he could represent a liability for other kids (or adults) visiting. Were the dog to bite someone, the family would be looking at a lawsuit.

Donna and her family considered all the matters discussed both, with me and the other rescue organization.

While desire was (understandably) for a younger dog, ultimately Donna's family made (what I am sure is) the right choice for Goldie.

I even truthfully told Donna, "If the situation were reversed and I had the younger, more protective or fearful Cocker and the other rescue group had Goldie, I would still recommend Goldie to you. That's how strongly I feel about this decision."

It was wonderful yesterday, seeing Goldie happily jump into the car of Donna and her very kind, enthusiastic husband. Goldie seemed to "know" that she was going to her new home. She settled down on Donna's lap in the back seat and even played with Donna's husband before he started the car. The couple had already purchased a beautiful leash and collar for Goldie, as well as a bed, treats and toys.

Part of me wanted to cry -- but such would have been tears of joy.

As hard, frustrating and "depressing" as rescue and placement can often be there are those times when you have saved an animal from certain death and are there to see him or her go off to a wonderful and loving home. -- That home you know is going to be forever.

That is the part of rescue that is in some ways, "addicting" and what one can never walk away from.

There is no greater "high" or feeling in the world! -- PCA