Sunday, January 31, 2010

At Last!

(Picture Left: Daisy -- a long time, coming.)

"At last my love has come along," the famous Etta James song goes.

While we in rescue don't spend nights fretting about either lost or possible loves, we do worry about those animals languishing in boarding too long.

For us, one of those dogs was "Daisy," a beautiful Retriever/Chow mix rescued more than a year ago.

Daisy arrived at the AC&C after her former (elderly) owner fell on hard times. An older woman apparently, Daisy's caregiver suffered major health problems and had to give up the young, vivacious dog.

Daisy was nervous in the shelter and was slated for euthanasia due to "questionable behavior."

When agreeing to take Daisy, I figured due to her looks, age and robust health, she would not be a hard placement. She was also quite friendly and would roll on her back for belly runs.

But, I was wrong about Daisy.

Daisy was a very strong dog and hard to control on the leash (especially when meeting other dogs.) The few people I showed Daisy to shortly after her rescue, rejected her due to the dog's strength and apparent lack of leash manners.

Though originally in Manhattan boarding, about a month after her rescue, one of our other dogs was adopted and the foster person offered to take Daisy.

"Carrie" has a husband, two children, four cats and at the time, she was also fostering an older, male Cocker Spaniel.

Carrie and I both figured Daisy needed more socialization and leash training. Carrie was a very experienced dog walker and fosterer and she was kind enough to take Daisy.

Daisy did well with Carrie and her family. The beautiful Chow mix was even OK around the cats and accepted the other dog.

After having Daisy in foster about a month, a nice family from Connecticut offered to adopt her.

The family consisted of two teenage children, two cats and a mature, female dog.

The adoption seemed perfect: An active family with a house and property.

But, within the first few days of the adoption, I received calls from both the husband and wife.

Though good with all the humans in the family, Daisy was "chasing the cats" and not getting along well with their other dog.

The one thing that had concerned me about the adoption was that the people had a female dog at home. Generally speaking, when adopting a second dog, it is better to adopt an opposite sex dog. Female dogs together can be especially problematic.

Unfortunately, this was the biggest challenge we were running into with the adoption. The two female dogs seemed to battle each other over who was going to be "top dog," the situation got ugly and the family ended up separating them.

I tried to counsel and offer advice which was somewhat difficult considering Daisy had peacefully lived with cats and another (male) dog in the foster home.

So often, it is the way the humans react to and handle the challenges of a newly acquired dog that ultimately determines whether the adoption fails or succeeds. The introduction of new animals to each other usually isn't pretty.

The adults in this family seemed unable to either take control of the situation or even just take matters in stride. Usually, no matter how ugly, most animals eventually work out their differences.

But, within a couple weeks of her adoption, Daisy was returned.

This time, unfortunately, Carrie was unable to take Daisy back a second time because she had taken in a new rescue shortly after Daisy was adopted.

I had to send Daisy to boarding with a trainer in New Jersey.

That was in the early spring of last year.

Daisy has remained in boarding all of this time.

Over the many long months Daisy was in boarding, we heavily advertised her on adoption sites (including Craig's List) and I personally promoted her to those potential and qualified adopters without other pets at home.

But, only two potential adoption parties actually went to see Daisy.

According to both, the potential adopters and Ed (of Working Dogs Canine Academy) Daisy was "aloof and reserved" with the unfamiliar people and they thus rejected her.

Still more months passed and I began to worry if Daisy would ever find a loving, adoptive home.

All of our efforts with her were meeting with repeated failures.

Then, last week, I received a call from a very lovely woman inquiring on another Chow mix dog who had recently been adopted.

I told "Sue" about Daisy.

Sue and her family (husband and three adolescent children) had recently lost their Shih-Tzu of 13 years to terminal illness.

Of course I questioned the choice of a young, active dog over a breed that is not normally particularly active and strong.

But, Sue explained that the Shih-Tzu had been a rescue many years ago (after a neighbor died) and that the family sought a more active dog to run and hike with. They own a townhouse here in the city near Central Park and also have a country home.

Once again, it sounded like a potentially very good situation for Daisy. But after getting my hopes high so many times over the past year with Daisy only to see them dashed, I dared not feel optimistic.

But, yesterday the family drove out to New Jersey to meet with Daisy.

And much to my delight and surprise, they adopted the red Chow/Retriever mix.

When speaking with Ed last night, he told me that Daisy immediately gravitated towards all the members in the family and happily jumped into the car with them!

This had been a far cry from Daisy's formerly cool and cautious greetings to other potential adopters.

It seems the discerning Chow mix chose her own adopters!

Just as importantly, Ed (who does his own rescues and adoptions) felt very good about the people and seemed confident that the adoption would successfully work out.

I was still much more guarded about "assuming" anything. Though the adoption of Daisy represents a possible opening for us to do another rescue, I have to be sure the adoption has actually taken before committing us to another dog.

But, so far, the news is all good.

Sue called this morning to inform me how well things are going so far and how Daisy seems to love everyone in the family and they her.

Perhaps I had so warned Sue to "take things slowly" and to expect all kinds of difficulties and adjustments in the beginning, that she seemed genuinely surprised. Daisy was far exceeding the family's expectations!

Then again, it seems far better (to me) for people to "expect" the worse and be pleasantly surprised than vice versa.

Perhaps that is why we don't get as many adoptions as other rescue groups or shelters.

But, even with all the caution and warnings, we still get more than our share of returns.

I am just hoping that at least for Daisy this time, her need to find her forever loving home has finally come, "at last." -- PCA


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