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Chloe Chronicles VII: Rejection Blues

“Sure, I think that will be okay.” I wish I hadn’t asked. Once we got inside and Took was released, he began to wreak havoc. First, he peed on my sofa, then he ran into the kitchen and jumped up on all the counters, sweeping his snout across in search of food, knocking over blenders and utensil containers along the way. Finding nothing to eat, he ran into the bathroom, tipping over my little metal trashcan with a sharp rattle and digging around for used tissues. Meanwhile, Chloe followed Took with a rather perplexed look on her face, as if to say: We don’t do that around here.

“I think I’ll put him in the car,” Mr. W said. Back outside, I showed Mr. W the property. As we walked with Chloe across the meadows and around the pond, I pointed out stone walls in the distance that marked the borders, and the mountain that loomed behind us — the beginnings of the great Catskill Park.

“Chloe is boundary trained,” I said. Mr. W had never heard of this, so I explained that I had spent many hours taking Chloe along the property’s perimeter, which I’d marked with light-colored flags on various trees, and used a clicker to teach her that she was not to wander beyond those barriers. “It was time consuming, but it was worth it.”

“My dog could never be trained like that,” he said. I wanted to say, With a clicker, you can do anything, but I held back out of respect for his point of view.

I showed him Chloe’s various skills, cueing her with a mix of hand signals, verbal cues, eye movements, whistles and clicks. It felt like a circus act, but she seemed very pleased with herself, and happy to entertain our guests.

When I told her to “run to the pond,” she ran to the pond, which was quite a distance away. Then I shouted “Come” and blew the whistle, and Chloe returned, bounding happily across the grass, ears flapping.

Mr. W was impressed. He petted Chloe and praised her when she returned. “What a good dog!” he said. “I never knew dogs could do such things.” She beamed.

Then the issue of the fenced-in yard came up. I had a pool, which was fenced, but both of us knew that didn’t really count. I was banking on the fact that this particular rescue group made exceptions to the fence rule for the right candidates.

“Chloe loves to swim,” I said, pushing through the gate into the pool area. “She does laps.”

“Technically, we require six-foot fences,” Mr. W said, looking around, “and I worry about this pool.” Then he turned to me and smiled. “But I think you’re a good candidate. I’ll put in a positive recommendation.”

I was so happy that I hugged him. Chloe, sensing the mood, threw herself on her back and waved her legs in the air. We talked a bit more about bird dogs in general and Setters in particular, and then discussed the logistics of the adoption process. “I submit a report of my home visit,” he said, “and then the board meets to decide.”

All in all, I felt that this home visit had been a pleasant experience, and a successful one. As we parted ways Mr. W emphasized that Chloe seemed to have a good life here.

So imagine my shock when, a few days later, I received an email notifying me that I had been rejected. The reason? Lack of a fenced-in yard. And more: boundary training. “We cannot give our dogs to people who boundary train,” I was told.

I was crestfallen. Rejection never feels good in any situation, but this felt like an emotional, even personal, blow. I cried for days, realizing I had fallen in love with Trinley and lost him before even meeting him. You who have had your applications rejected will know what I mean.

Soon, my sorrow was replaced by anger and indignation. I complained to my off-leash and dog park friends, to my rescue friends, to my dog-writer friends. Everyone had choice things to say about this rescue group’s decision. I am not usually a back-stabber, but it helped to let off some steam.

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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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