Saturday, October 07, 2017

A Dog of a Situation

A few months ago, my daughter moved out of the house and took our dog Julio with her. There was not a whole lot I could do about it. She wanted a dog for years, and one birthday we relented and got one. I hadn't had a dog since I was a kid. I was very surprised about how quickly and thoroughly I bonded with him. I never knew how much I missed having a dog until we got one.

I spend a lot of time writing at home. That's what I'm doing right now, as a matter of fact. It's not spectacularly fun to hang out with someone who's writing, but Julio sat by my side every moment. Sometimes he would look at me imploringly with those big brown eyes, and that meant it was time to go out. I would stop whatever I was doing and oblige.

Julio spent a lot of his time on top of a love seat, zealously guarding our home. Whenever a squirrel ran by, he'd dutifully report. I'd ask him what it was, and he'd look at me just like in the picture above. I'd walk to the window and check it out. He was usually gratified that I did so, and calmed down. The only thing that really bothered him was big dogs. For reasons I can't fathom, big dogs required intense barking that didn't stop until they were a block away. I'm sure his bark was worse than his bite, because he never bit anyone.

I waited a few months before contemplating getting another dog. After all, you never know when a kid will turn around and come home. I took Julio's loss pretty hard and didn't want to go through it again anytime soon, so I decided to try to get a younger dog or a puppy. But I wasn't going to just go to a store like my daughter did.

Right after we got Julio, a friend of mine asked why I didn't go to a rescue. There are all these dogs wanting for homes, and I just went where my daughter found the dog, took out a credit card, and brought him home. I told her I had no idea about rescues, and that Julio needed us just as much as those rescue dogs did. But I also promised her that the next time I sought a dog I'd try to get a rescue.

Julio is a morkie, half Maltese and half Yorkie. Neither of these breeds sheds much, if at all, so they're considered hypoallergenic. My daughter has bad reactions to cats and some dogs, but she's fine with Julio. So we need another dog with that quality. In addition to Yorkies and Maltese, Schnauzers, Havanese, and Poodles have this quality. We want our daughter to be able to visit us without having an allergy attack.

The first place I looked was at a shelter five minutes from my house. There's a puppy we liked there, and I applied. I had to give references. They also wanted to do a home inspection. I told them fine, filled out a long application, and left. They said they would call the next day. I made a donation to them on line. Several weeks later, they haven't called us, and they haven't called our references.

A Facebook friend told me to use Petfinder. About a week after not hearing from the local rescue, I did. I've applied to four or five places. The last application I filled out was eight pages long. Yes we have an enclosed yard with a six foot fence. Yes our dog was neutered. No we won't leave the dog alone for long periods of time. No we won't leave the dog chained up outside. Yes you can come and do a surprise inspection. No we've never surrendered a dog before. No I can't think of a reason we'd surrender a dog. Yes we'll bring the dog back to you if we ever do that. No we've never had a dog hit by a car. Yes you can call our vet. What if I drop dead tomorrow? The dog goes to my wife and then my daughter.

So far, only one of the places has called our references. As it happens, it's the only place that hasn't got a dog we're interested in. I've got a line on a dog we like but this place doesn't have an online application. I printed it out and completed it, but thus far I have no idea where to bring it. Yes I've asked, and yes I will follow up. This place has actually gone to the trouble of contacting me via email, and that's more than any other place has done.

I worked for years as a musician. I can't remember the last time I did an audition, but I remember I hated them and they were not often productive. Very early we decided to make recordings so as to avoid them. You don't like the recording? Then you won't like us either and no we're not playing for free so you can make sure.  I feel like I've spent the last month in a perpetual audition.

I've read about puppy mills and I'm not going to the puppy store five minutes from my house, even though it would be very easy. I've also read about breeders who raise dogs in their homes and I've located one upstate New York that raises Yorkies. There seem to be a lot of them in Pennsylvania. I've traveled to Pennsylvania to play gigs that barely covered my expenses. I'd certainly go there to get a dog.

I'll keep trying the rescue route, but I won't wait forever. I kind of feel like bringing animals into your home and caring for them is a win-win. I won't patronize a puppy mill, but I can certainly understand why other people are driven to do so. It seems to me that some rescues, by blatantly ignoring those who reach out to them, have to be driving a whole lot of pet enthusiasts over to Puppy Palace. That's exactly what they're in business to avoid.
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