(Picture Left: Jewels -- Sensitive little Shepherd mix coming back for what really is incompatibility between romance and pet adoption.)
One of our dogs, adopted last week is being returned this weekend for "housebreaking" issues even though Jewels was housebroken in her foster home with Carrie.
Jewels is a small, older German Shepherd mix and like most Shepherds, she is very sensitive to the people and energy around her.
Although adopted to a single man with good dog experience, his girlfriend gave both Carrie and me pause for thought at the time of the adoption.
Following the completion of the adoption papers last week, "Ray's" gal pal, nagged and complained about "being hungry" and asked where they could stop to get some food.
Carrie suggested a nearby Chinese take-out, but "Helen" didn't seem the type to go for fast take-out. She instead wanted to go to some fancy restaurant in midtown Manhattan, but I told the couple that was not possible with a dog in the car.
Although the couple doesn't live together, this brief incident should have spelled "red flag" to both Carrie and myself.
Both of us found the woman grating and annoying.
Apparently, Jewels is experiencing anxiety around the woman, also.
The complaint is that Jewels is constantly peeing and pooping in the home.
When trying to discuss the problem with Ray the other night and making suggestions (particularly to help Jewels feel secure), I could hear Helen in the background yakking and complaining.
We should have known this adoption wouldn't work.
Not only do adoption shelters or rescues need to screen actual adopters, but we need to also evaluate (when possible) the boyfriend and girlfriends of single adopters. It's not the first time we are having an animal returned because of a troublesome or neurotic love interest.
The question is, how do you turn down a potential adopter who otherwise fits the criteria for adoption because you think their paramour is a nut job?
Can you say, "Ditch the romantic heart trob and we'll adopt to you."?
The return of Jewels isn't the only frustration right now.
I heard again yesterday from the couple who rejected Foxy for adoption.
"Carla" (her real name) told me that the couple couldn't decide on Foxy because he "reminds" her too much of the couple's last dog.
Since the couple's dog of 17 years was also a Pomeranian, I asked Carla why they were seeking the same breed if they don't want to be reminded of the former dog?
"There are 400 dog breeds." I said to Carla. " Surely, you could seek a different breed or mix that wouldn't be similar to your last dog. Even though Foxy is larger than your last dog, the fact he is Pomeranian is going to mean there are going to be similarities. What exactly are you seeking?"
Carla told me she and her husband had been to many shelters and rescues and just couldn't find "the right dog."
The latter is a phrase that truly irks me to no end.
"What the hell is 'the right dog?" I asked. "I am sure some of the dogs you looked at are now dead! Any one of them could have been the right dog if you and your husband are the right people! I don't think you and your husband are ready for a new dog right now. As matters are, you are simply wasting the time of rescues and shelters."
Carla was insulted and hung up on me. "It's a wonder you get any animals adopted!" she angrily snapped.
Well, on that point, I had to agree with Carla. It is a very tough climate for animal adoptions right now. -- Far tougher than what I (who have been in rescue 20 years) am accustomed to.
But, its OK. We are animal rescue and adoptions. And though certain TV shows mislead the public into expecting that animal rescues and shelters should be proficient in everything from behavior modification to life saving surgeries to fortune telling, to carpentry, the fact is, we're not.
We are especially neither baby sitters, hand holders nor grief counselors.
I say to all those people forever seeking "the right dog" (or cat), that if you are the "right people" (i.e. patient, considerate, kind, calm, committed and compassionate) then any animal you bring home will be the "right" one.
The person or people who eventually adopt Foxy (or any of our animals) will hopefully be truly enthusiastic and honored to add this great little dog to their lives. There should not have to be conflict, doubt, confusion, clones or "reminders" of past animals.
In the end, animals are just animals and, like people, possess their individual faults and strengths. They are not symbols for human drives for perfection and/or wish fulfillment.
I just want our animals to be wanted and appreciated for who they are. -- Not for whatever unrealistic demands or expectations people put on them. -- PCA