Monday, July 6, 2009

It begins

This will be a long post, because yesterday was a long day, and it really all does go together.

The local 'big city' shelter has events every other week where they host a lot of the smaller rescues and dogs from fosters out on their lawn. It's a nice way to meet dogs since they're already out and relaxed and not 'omigod someone walked past my cage'. Plus, for the smaller rescues that don't have facilities, just fosters, it's the only way to get a casual face-to-face with a dog as opposed to setting up a big 'we choose you' meeting.

We went. There were a lot of dogs. It was pleasant, but nothing really said 'I'm your dog'. In truth, there weren't many dogs there at all which fit what we came in looking for. We always go into these things thinking 'danes, akitas, rotties, chows' and end up looking at GSDs, boxers and pitties because that's the closest thing there is. We do like those breeds, but...not really the same.

So, we were pretty discouraged leaving there. There were a lot of dogs, and no 'clicks' which is depressing. And it's depressing to leave behind the nice dogs that just aren't the one. Really depressing. We want to get into fostering eventually to give those a chance, but for now, for our first dog, I feel pretty strongly that we should be patient and wait for the one.

From there, we went to our local county shelter/pound, which is much smaller and rural-er. Our expectations were pretty low at that point since we'd already been to a big place with no results, and being a rural area, we expected beagles, hounds, and other unsuitably energetic hunting dogs to be prominent, and finally, from the vet care we'd found around here (another entry, later), we didn't expect people to really take dogs seriously.

We were completely surprised.

It was very, very clean. The girl at the desk was very friendly, talked to us about their procedures without being confrontational or brusque about it. The kennel itself was bright, with fresh air from an open door the end. The dogs had large-ish runs with access to an outdoor area, and a bed. It didn't smell dirty or like antiseptic, the barking didn't echo in that incredibly loud way. It was...pleasant, and I mean it. We're probably going to volunteer. They had training classes too, which we're probably going to sign up for.

They also, maybe, had dogs. Yes, plural. There was actually a dane(!) who was giving all the right signals. Standing up, watching us quietly with his tail wagging slowly, but all feet on the floor. He was still waiting on a vet-check, so we will be going back Tuesday to interact with him. They also had an akita/chow out on foster that we gave our number for the fosters to call and set up a meeting time with. Finally, there was the *ugliest* dog I've ever seen. Apparently, a husky type, but stress from a combination of heartworm treatment and being in a shelter she had lost all her hair. Surprisingly, white huskies have red/dark brown skin (at least she did) so, a little, bare, brown dog with white tufts stuck to her, it was rather incredible. On the other hand, she was actually giving the right signs as far as personality too, though it seems that might be stress, since husky was a breed that we wrote off straight out the door as 'nice, but no way we can handle all that energy' so it's probably not a good idea.

So, we're going back Tuesday. This is the point where I start panicking a bit again. I was up intermittently through the night with racing thoughts and a sore back*

I hate the idea of having to bring a dog home in the middle of the week. We'll be going from the shelter to the pet store for supplies (we figure we'll have to go after we get the dog for the collar anyway, so why no do all-in-one?). I have all sorts of worst-case scenarios running through my mind. We won't be able to find a crate big enough. We will put the dog in the crate and leave him (because we have to work the next day) and he will have separation anxiety and hate his crate for the rest of his life. We will leave the dog out of the crate because he hates it and he will eat everything, including the cats. The fence people being around the house will terrify him, and he will hate strangers and bark at them forever. Fuu will pester him while he is in the crate (because Fuu is a jerk) and he will hate her forever, and possibly eat her. I think that's it. I'm not even worried about the real issues (he's poorly bred and will have terrible health issues which we will not be able to resolve because we can't find a good vet) it's all immediate irreversible ruination due to mistakes in the first week. Daylight makes that all seem somewhat less plausible, as does writing it out, but still. I think it actually makes it worse that the shelter is a nice place - we don't have that 'well at least it's better than where he was before' to fall back on, plus the idea of failing and having to return the dog is suddenly much more tangible and therefore terrifying than it was before.

But I suppose what will come will come. I'm counting chickens and all I have is eggs until Tuesday. Maybe all the dogs will end up being jerks, and we'll drive down to another shelter on Wednesday, and another on the weekend. It's strange that in some ways the possibility of not liking the dogs is reassuring? Looking stinks, but it is familiar. Having a dog is something new, and more than a little scary.

*I've no idea what I did to make my back sore. However, the cats react very strangely to you getting out of bed at three am and stretching in the middle of the dining room floor. By strangely, I mean they wake up and try to sit on you. They also seem completely perplexed that someone managed to wake up before they started pestering us for breakfast.

1 comment:

The Homeless Parrot said...

If you're concerned about crate training and the like, I HIGHLY recommend How to be Your Dog's Best Friend.

My sister-in-law/best friend adopted a stray husky cross with an ENORMOUS amount of energy. He had no prior training and she had exactly ZERO prior training with dogs. Using that book, she trained him in 6 weeks.

To this day, he is unquestionably the best behaved dog I have ever seen. She gets requests from strangers at the dog park to train their dogs all the time.