While the adoption prospects for animals in long-time boarding or foster situations appear to become dimmer with time, they are not entirely hopeless.
Over the past few weeks, two of our dogs have been adopted.
This may not seem like a big deal compared to shelters or rescues that do high volume adoptions, but for us these two adoptions were like small miracles.
You see, both dogs had been in boarding for almost a year.
The first dog was "Daisy."
This is her personal story:
Daisy is a young, vivacious and beautiful Retriever/Chow mix.
Daisy arrived at Animal Control after her elderly owner suffered health problems, had to go into senior housing and was forced to give up her beloved dog.
Daisy was nervous in the shelter, did not do well on her Behavior Tests and ended up on the Euth list.
That is when we took her.
Because she was young (only a couple of years), healthy and quite beautiful, I thought Daisy would be a fairly quick adoption.
But, I was totally wrong.
Daisy was very strong and pulled wildly on the leash. She was hard to control. Moreover, it didn't seem Daisy was well socialized with other dogs.
Initially, I boarded Daisy at a dog spa in Manhattan. Although I and others walked her everyday, Daisy seemed to become frustrated with the confinement in a boarding facility.
About a month after her rescue, one of my experienced foster homes opened up and Carrie was kind enough to take Daisy even though the young mother already had a couple of cats and one other dog in her home.
At first, Daisy chased the cats, but when one of the felines hauled off and swatted the excited Retriever mix in the snout, Daisy quickly learned to leave the cats alone.
Daisy was however, wonderful with Carrie's two children and accepting of the family's other foster dog -- an older, neutered, male Cocker Spaniel.
The Spaniel was eventually adopted. And about a month after being with Carrie and her family, Daisy too, was adopted.
It seemed like the perfect adoption situation.
A lovely family with two adolescent kids, a home in Connecticut with several acres of land and other pets, including two cats and a dog.
The only thing that concerned me a little was that the other dog in the home was an older, spayed female who had previously not lived with a second dog.
Generally, when adopting a second dog, opposite sex is more compatible. Two females together can be especially problematic.
I tried to dismiss my concerns with the hope that the two dogs would get along. After all, Daisy had been accepting of the foster Cocker Spaniel and was compatible with him.
But, the compatibility between the two newly acquainted female dogs never occurred in the adoptive home. In fact, the longer they were together, the more Daisy and the family's other dog seemed to hate each other. Neither dog was willing to play "second fiddle" to the other. The family felt forced to separate the two dogs and quite predictably, ended up returning Daisy to us a few weeks following the adoption.
Only this time, Carrie's apartment building had initiated a new rule that no dogs over 30 lbs would be allowed.
Daisy could not go back to her foster home. I had to send her to boarding once again.
And in a very reputable boarding/training facility in New Jersey is where Daisy stayed -- until about three weeks ago.
While there had been a hand-full of adoption calls on Daisy over the many months she was in boarding they either lacked dog experience, had other female dogs at home or simply failed to follow-up or go to see Daisy. There was only one older couple who actually went to meet Daisy. But, the apparently discriminating Chow/Retriever mix had been "cool, indifferent and aloof" to the man and his wife of many years. They obviously did not adopt her.
I therefore, almost fell over the day, three weeks ago, I finally received a very promising adoption inquiry on Daisy.
Not wanting to get my hopes too high, I spoke matter-of-factly with the potential adoptive parents and told them Daisy's entire history from previously living with an elderly owner, to her stint at the pound, to foster, to failed and rejected adoption and finally, to her many long months in boarding.
But, the married couple with two teenage children and no other pets at home, were not deterred by any of it.
The family had a good history with dogs, a car, a townhouse in the city that was near Central Park and considered themselves to be "quite active." The mother was especially seeking a companion dog to take long walks in the park with.
I warned "Lisa" that Daisy might be a little "aloof" with her family the fist time meeting them.
"She's been with Ed (the trainer) in boarding a long time now. Sometimes dogs get attached to their environments and people they are with a long time."
But, Lisa was very understanding. She wasn't expecting Daisy to immediately run up to and lick everyone's face.
"I understand that it takes time to develop a relationship with animals." Lisa told me. "Our first dog was generally aloof with new people until she got to know them."
But, all my cautions turned out to be for naught as surprisingly, Daisy responded very positively and immediately to the family from the very instant she met them!
It was mutual "love at first sight!"
Needless to say, Lisa and her family adopted Daisy. And three weeks later, the news has been nothing but positive. They are entirely happy with Daisy and she with them. In fact, all that "aloofness" and even wildness from Daisy's past seems to be gone. She has settled in beautifully.
Perhaps it just took time with Daisy. She needed to settle down, get consistent exposure and socialization with other dogs and learn to be a bit more open with people she didn't know well. She needed to be with somebody who knew how to achieve these things humanely and compassionately and Ed seems to have been the right person for that.
Or, perhaps, like so many other dogs we have rescued and eventually placed, Daisy simply had to wait a long time for the right family and situation to finally come along.
As has often been said in this journal, sometimes it is simply better to "Let the dogs choose their own adopters."