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Chloe Chronicles VII: Rejection Blues

• What is your income? (Enough to keep the dogs, and myself, well fed, comfortably housed, healthy, impeccably groomed, constantly entertained, etc.)

• What will you feed your dog? (Bones and raw food and homemade meat/vegetable/supplement mixtures.)

• What sort of training methods will you use? (Clicker.)

• Do you have a fenced-in yard? (Um … kind of … but we have many acres of land in a low-population area with no cars.)

When I expressed concern to the volunteer about my lack of a fenced-in yard, she said that this group often made exceptions for “the right candidates.”

Can you blame me if I thought I was a shoo-in? After my application was approved (with flying colors, I might add), we arranged for a home visit. One of the volunteers from the rescue group would come the following Saturday to meet me and my dog and check out our digs.

Gleefully, I started to prepare — mentally and literally — for the arrival of my new puppy. I bought cute little toys and a memory-foam bed. I read up on puppy-specific training, and on the body language of puppies and mother dogs/ female dogs. I even picked out a name: Trinley, in honor of a Tibetan monk of whom I am particularly fond. (He said it would be all right to name a dog after him.) “Trinley’s coming,” I’d say to Chloe in a sing-song voice. “Your new little brother Trinley!” One night, I even dreamed about him; in the dream, he snuggled and squirmed in a way that seemed incredibly real. Trinley was so excited to be with us and we were so excited to be with him. When I woke, I was convinced that the dream was prophetic — that Trinley was meant to be my second dog.

Yes, the thought sometimes crossed my mind that I would not be approved, but those thoughts were fleeting. After all, I had adopted Chloe without any trouble. Millions of dogs in this country needed homes. Surely my offer to provide a home for an unwanted dog would be granted.

My evaluator, Mr. W, arrived at my house on a sunny Saturday. An older man, he was wearing khakis and a polo shirt of a distinctive color that we in the know call “Nantucket Red.” He drove a silver Volvo with a Connecticut license plate, and had a gorgeous Belton-type English Setter in tow. The dog had one of those long names I can no longer remember. “Constantine’s Westchester Amblefoot Toucan Pie” or some such thing, with the call name “Took.”

“Took,” I repeated happily, and reached into the car window to pet him. “Would you like to come meet Chloe, Took?”

The man seemed uncertain. “He doesn’t really play with other dogs. I’m not sure I should let him out of the car.” I must have looked at him perplexedly, because he added, “He’s a show dog.”

Took was now barking madly and scratching at the car window, trying to wedge his body through the small crack.

“Well, I suppose I could take him out,” Mr. W said. He then strung Took up on a choke chain and let him out of the car.

I should point out here that I Iived on 16 acres of land, much of it bordering thousands of acres of state land. Chloe is never on a leash because she does not need to be: (a) she is not a roamer, and (b) she is, as we have seen, well trained and has perfect recall. For recall, I use hand signals in addition to verbal cues, and a special whistle she can hear at great distances. She’s a terrific dog who has earned her freedom.

Now, Chloe waited for my “okay” command before she said hello to Took. She play-bowed and he play-bowed back, then he leapt forward for a romp, only to be yanked back rather cruelly by Mr. W, who had pulled sharply on the choke collar.

I winced. I hate to see dogs yelping in pain. “Do you want to let him off-leash and watch them interact?” I said. “We can watch their body language and signals, to see how Chloe interacts with other dogs.”

“I never let him off-leash,” he said. “He hasn’t been off-leash since he was six weeks old, straight from the litter. If I let him go, he’d never come back.” Do you know that for certain? I wanted to ask. But I held my tongue.

“Will you let him off leash inside the house?” I asked.

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Submitted by Karen | November 6 2012 |

I remember when we were looking for first family dog, my husband and I wanted to extend our family, so we started the hunt for the perfect dog. Our children were very young at the time, but my husband and I are experienced dog owners, we knew what we were getting into. We scoured all sources, probably 6 or 7 months, and turned down nearly every time, it was heartbreaking and frustrating. No one, not Rescue groups, not shelters, would let us adopt because our children were so young. Some would literally freeze when we walked through the door. They were, however, willing to let us interview baby puppies, as puppies were less likely to hurt a child. OK we got that, but we didn't want a baby puppy, we had two toddlers, I didn't want to be in the midst of potty training everyone under the age of 3. Finally after nearly giving up, we found Claire on Petfinder, a dog in Mexico being fostered with children the same age as ours. We filled in the paperwork, and the Rescue group, gave us a chance. It was the chance of a lifetime. Claire has been with us 5 years now and she's not going anywhere.

Now we foster for dogs for that Rescue group, because we have always been so thankful to them for giving us that chance. You may have your heart set on one kind of breed or mixed breed, but you need to look all options, there are so many good ones waiting to be with you.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 25 2012 |

What you described is why my dog is a pure breed. It never occurred to me that I would do anything other than adopt until I started researching rescue organizations. I am a single person living in a studio apartment with no yard. I live about a mile from an excellent off-leash area, but while it is removed from traffic it isn't fenced in. I'm also a first time dog owner, although we had dogs when I was a kid. So it quickly became clear that filling out applications at most rescue organizations would be a complete waste of time and energy. Unless I wanted to adopt a tiny dog that required minimal exercise (I didn't), I wasn't going to be approved on multiple fronts. One organization flat out stated it only placed dogs with couples in which one person didn't work outside the home. I do work from home, but that wasn't considered good enough. I could have gone with a public shelter, but given my small, urban living space, it seemed like too much of a gamble. The breeder, by contrast, was comfortable enough with my plan for dog ownership to place one of her puppies with me. My dog is now well trained and socialized and has passed the AKC Good Citizen Test. He gets plenty of exercise and has, I think, a really good life. I understand the interest in being cautious, but I think good adopters are being turned away because we don't fit the checklist.

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