Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hunt for Red Retriever

Ok, I know I'm gonna step on some toes here (and some of those toes are very close to me) but I just have to vent a little.

Ever since we lost our beautiful Golden Retriever a little over 2 years ago, our house has seemed a bit empty (even with 2 pre-schoolers running around). When we got him it was by accident. We didn't plan to get a dog then, and it certainly wasn't the right time to get a dog, but he picked us. Us. There was an instant bond that told us we couldn't let him slip through our fingers. He immediately became a part of our family, sleeping on our bed, cuddling with us, following me around everywhere, and doing all he could to please us. In return we did all we could to keep him happy, we fed him, loved him, and really believed he was a child to us. He was not your average dog. I could lay a stick across a doorway and tell him not to cross it, and he wouldn't. For the first 2 years of his life we didn't even have a fence in the backyard and yet he never left. And all he asked in return was a tummy rub and an ear scritch. I could go on and on about him, but I'm tearing up already.

Shortly after he died I felt his presence in the house. I felt that if I could just turn around fast enough I'd see him standing there. I felt this was his way of telling us to give that same love to another dog. Maybe it was just my way of grieving, I don't know. In any case we went and checked out many dogs but none of them, none of them made us feel warm and fuzzy and instantly connected like our big boy did. That feeling was/is very important to me. Being busy with 6 month old twins we decided to give up the search until now.

We've recently started talking about a dog again. The girls are big enough, and are starting to build up a fear of dogs, so we feel we need to get one sooner rather than later. I want my girls to grow up with a love of dogs. We talked about a puppy, but finally decided we would go with a rescue dog, so Bill contacted the local group and their response shocked me.

According to them we can't begin to think about adopting a rescue dog until we fill out an application, have an interview, and get this...a home inspection and then they'll decide if we would be a fitting adoptive family. Oh yeah, and it will cost us $400 for the privilege. I was stunned, but some good friends told me this is fairly standard. To me it is punishing the many for the fault of the one or few and doesn't really address the issue. It's suppose to avoid bad placements, but I've heard from more than one person that these still happen and it's sad when a dog has to be put down.

To me, if a person is an experienced dog owner, comes with good references on said topic, is willing to take on a rescue dog, and pay the fee, then the home visit is ridiculous. I'm told it's to insure the dogs will be safe, that there is a solid fence so the dog can't get out. I have a solid fence. What's to say that just because I have that fence that I will be vigilant about closing the gate? Or the front door to the house when I'm inside. I don't see where an invasion of my house is going to make any dog any safer. And what if I had a hole in my fence? All I'd have to do is promise to fix it.

I really think it should be more about the connection between the dog and the prospective family. If the connection is there, the dog is going to be safe.

Also, we're rescuing a dog for $400 for Pete's sake. Most people I know are not going to throw away that kind of money.

Lastly, it is a dog (and don't think for one minute I really believe that part) in most peoples eyes. I could go buy one, or pick one up at the pound with little to no scrutiny. I think this practice probably turns away more good families than they think and causes another possibly unforeseen problem. If we (or anyone else) doesn't feel like going through these hoops, and buys a dog, this dog may or may not be neutered/spayed and may end up producing a litter (or more) of puppies which could potentially be a larger problem.

I think the home scrutiny should be saved for those people who appear to be really shady after the application and interview, or even after they meet a dog. How is a home inspection going to tell them or us if we will be a good match for a dog. Short answer is, it won't.


At 30 November, 2006 10:13, Blogger wen said...

a couple of things...

i'd say just put it out there to the universe 'Hey, please send us the right dog at the right time, and in a way that is best for all involved and with harm to no one.' Keep looking but know you've put the cosmic wheels in motion. :)

And if you want a little doggie (or two) my housemate has two she is trying to place. They are small, about a year old, one male one female. Some kind of 7-12 lb black chiuauau mix kinds. She found them running on the freeway down south and caught them, is getting them fixed, and set up for a good home. I realize you might be the big dog type, but thought I'd offer the wee ones just in case (one boy, one girl).

At 30 November, 2006 14:18, Blogger heather said...

i understand why you're upset, but as an animal lover i think it's fabulous that they do home visitation. your points about home condition are valid but the fact is, it's just one more way to *try to* make sure these dogs are being put in a safe space. there are no guarantees, but in a scenario that's really all about the well being of the dogs, i can't fault them for attempting due dilligence.

At 30 November, 2006 14:32, Blogger Liz said...

It's hard when someone you care about as much as we care about you get so worked up about something that seems, to us, just a normal thing that happens in rescue.

In the end you have two choices:
-follow their process and have the homecheck done
-or don't. And don't get a dog through them.

They aren't going to change their process because you don't like it.

At 30 November, 2006 14:53, Anonymous Shadow said...

Have you thought about pound puppies, it's a rescue of a different sort. Not sure what they do nowadays, but the ones I've helped friends with involved interviews and a commitment to the animal's health and safety. And all of them turned out to be pretty darn special animals.

At 30 November, 2006 15:49, Blogger Jennie said...

I know it is so hard to be scrutinized when you know in your heart of hearts that yours is a great home for a dog, esp. when compared to other potential homes.

But as a former Rescue volunteer, I have to say that vetting homes is a really hard process. And if they have the manpower and time to vet every home, that is, honestly, awesome. We only interviewed by phone and there was always the niggling doubt that someone put up a good front but would end up ignoring the dog, making them sleep outside, or sequester them to a small part of the home because of unforeseen challenges with training and/or their kids.

One red flag your post puts up for me is that your last dog was an awesome, amazing dog. I don't think your next dog will be anything like that. I've certainly seen folks expect that a new dog of the same breed will be as smart/trainable/easy (or even half as smart etc.) and they are so disappointed that they give up training etc. I tend to suggest they switch breeds to avoid that expectation!

Finally, I did want to say that with Lab Rescue, we charged the fee up front ($150) and never guaranteed you'd get a dog at all. I'm a little surprised Golden Rescue does all that work for no donation. Interesting!

Best of luck--I'm happy to answer any questions...

At 30 November, 2006 21:07, Blogger snarfdog said...

Wen, I'm with you on the cosmic wheels of the universe. I believe we will find the right dog for us, and be the right family for him.

And you're right. We are big dog people. But I might know someone who would make an excellent home for your little friends.

Liz, you're right. I wouldn't expect them to change the process just for us. Just irritates me and made me want to vent. And nope, we won't be going through them.

Shadow, we have considered pound adoption as those animals need just as much if not more saving. We are definitely looking there as well, just haven't found "that" dog yet.

Jennie, you kind of make my point. Whether it's by phone or home visit, you have no way of really knowing what a family is going to do. I could have the home visit, and still choose to sequester him to a small section of the backyard. (I wouldn't cuz I'm not that kind of person, but home visit or no, they don't know that.)

As of the greatness of our last dog, no worries there. We know he can't be replaced and that not every dog is like him. I've had dogs my whole life and some as dumb as bricks, but I've loved them all the same. I'm interested in a bond with the dog, not a replacement.

As for the fee, you might have missed that in my post, or maybe I wasn't clear, but it's $400, so definitely nothing to sneeze at.

For all,

I guess my post can be summed up in that they make what should be a loving, happy decision so difficult that I think they are turning away good families such as ourselves. Not that I don't think due diligence is necessary, just that I think it can 1. be too much, and 2. not be achieving what they think it is.

I know we'll find our dog, it just won't be through the rescue folks.

Thank you for all your comments, and yes I truly read them, contemplated them, and got some wisdom out of them. Don't feel I didn't hear you.

At 08 December, 2006 18:46, Blogger seajade said...

This is amazing. I didn't realize that rescue was all that and that the cost was so high. $400 is a lot. I would think that alone would turn away most "unworthy" types. Wouldn't mind the home visit too much but would wonder what it is that they are looking for. My home is not big and maybe I shouldn't have two big dogs here but can say that they are loved and, at least one of them, would probably have never found a home if I hadn't taken him in. And he is the most loving, cuddly dog of all. He was a pound puppy and I did have to answer a lot of questions about lifestyle, living conditions, etc. along with having him meet all other pets and people living in my home before I could adopt him. Glad to know that a home inspection didn't deter them from letting me adopt.

Anyway, cosmically or however, you know that the right dog will find you. Its just a matter of time. My best wishes.


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