Monday, September 9, 2013

So you want a dog...TODAY!

I am the poster child for poor impulse control. I am a frequent purchaser of grocery checkout-line candy, I can’t shop online without paying through the nose for overnight shipping, and I adopted my first dog on a whim from PetSmart without even asking my husband’s permission. Believe me, I fully understand the notion that when you want something, you want something NOW.

But a lot of times these impulse purchases don’t pan out as well as I had hoped. When I zip up my skinny jeans, it is apparent that my waistline absolutely did not need that package of peanut butter cups. And my newly sprained ankle is living proof that I have no business wearing those 5 inch stiletto ankle booties that looked so incredible online.

Eleanor Rigby ("Ellie"), 2006-2012

The same principle applied to my first dog, Ellie. I was at the store buying cat food when this beautiful, athletic dog ran up to me with a huge smile. She must have sensed I was a total sucker and she wasted no time in throwing herself in my impulsive path.

I left the store that day (sans cat food) dragging a new wire crate, a grossly overpriced dog bed, and a dog that I had met not even 15 minutes earlier. I knew nothing about pit bulls. I was blissfully unaware of the negative perception surrounding the breed and oblivious to the responsibility that my new companion had placed on my shoulders. Don’t get me wrong, Ellie turned out to be a fabulous dog, but a little education could have gone a long way in helping my sanity those first few months.

When it came time to get a second dog, we knew we wanted another pit bull, but we also knew that we needed the right fit for our situation. This time, my husband and I decided to do it his way. This is a man that has never impulsively done anything (I swear, he once spent weeks researching which brand of canned tuna was the best prior to making a tuna salad sandwich). So after much research, we decided upon a local breed specific rescue.

There are lots of benefits to adopting from a smaller rescue group. These groups operate by pulling dogs from overcrowded city shelters and placing them in foster homes where they are treated as members of the family. The foster homes spend time evaluating them, training them, and loving them. They commit an enormous amount of time and emotional energy into rehabilitating these dogs.

The vast majority of these smaller rescue groups are entirely volunteer run. These volunteers have full time jobs, families, and dogs of their own. They dedicate their free time to helping needy dogs find perfect homes. The volunteers divvy up the rescue responsibilities and tackle the necessary tasks when they have a free moment during their day. It is not the most efficient method of rehoming dogs, but it is arguably the best. In my experience, dogs adopted from small group rescues are better equipped to handle life in a loving home. They have worked on housebreaking and basic manners and they are accompanied by a wealth of education from experienced rescue volunteers.

The process of adopting from small rescue groups is arduous and intrusive (a week with your mother in-law can feel less interrogative). They want references, veterinary checks, and home visits. They work very hard to ensure the best fit for each dog they commit to helping, but sometimes it feels excessive.

Why do they need to know all of this? Isn’t enough that you want to give a dog a loving home…why do they have to delve into you personal life and why does it have to take so long? Don’t they know that there are plenty of other places you can get a dog without all of this judgment?!?

The answer is yes; they realize it is intrusive and painstakingly slow. And yes, they are fully aware that you could get a dog elsewhere. But no, they aren’t judging you. They are, however, judging your situation and whether or not that situation is suitable for the dog you are interested in bringing home.

Whenever I get frustrated with the process, I consider the situation from their perspective. They love these dogs. These dogs sleep in their beds, play with their children, and greet them at the door when they come home from work. It must be unbelievably hard to dedicate months of love and affection to a dog; then one day turn around and deliver that dog to their new, permanent home.

So as I sit here on my couch surrounded by my rescued dogs, I have to say that I appreciate the love and care that they received during their transition to my home. And I am very glad that for once, I was patient.

These guys were worth the wait.


  1. Thank you for all you do for these sweet pitties. They deserve nothing but the best! ...Ernie says he agrees with that too ;)

  2. God, I'll never forget visiting you. . .and having you. . .tell Ellie, "Attack."

    It was like she attacked with love, and knew nothing else. I can't describe in words, how much it taught me about Pitbulls and about love.

    Anyone who says pitbulls aren't amazing. . .well they can suck it. Because they have no idea.

  3. God, I miss Ellie. She even taught me a lesson about dogs, at one of my most frustrating times being around dogs. If that makes any sense.