A few weeks ago, I woke up and realized that I needed another dog. We have a dog--Shelly the World's Most Annoying Dog, a miniature dachshund who's bark has been metered at 129 decibels. Oh and it's a very shrill 129 decibels. Despite this, I felt strongly I needed another dog. A big dog. A thumpable dog. I thought a lot about what kind of dog I wanted. I didn't want to replace my late Golden Retriever because frankly some things are not replaceable. So maybe a different dog. I wanted a smart dog so I thought maybe a standard poodle. I looked at websites for standard poodles and tried to convince myself that if the dog's coat wasn't trimmed to look like topiary it would be okay. I looked at Labradoodles. I looked at lots and lots of dogs.
I finally admitted that I really like Golden Retrievers.
Lawrence Persons had recommended a local rescue group called Gold Ribbon Rescue. I went and filled out an application. I'm a pretty respectable kind of person. I figured it would be no big deal.
Now I have just the smallest sense of what people who adopt children go through.
The application was rather long. It asked what my work hours were. How long I was out of the house each day. If I owned my dwelling and if not, for information to contact my landlord. It asked if I had a vet and could they contact him. Did I have a fenced in yard. Does anyone in the house have asthma. How would I exercise the dog? Did I realize that Goldens are pretty big dogs? What pets did I already have?
Dog Breed rescues are all volunteer operations. They exist to place unwanted dogs with people who want them. They specialize. There are dachshund rescues, doberman rescues, poodle rescues, dalmatian rescues. They often have arrangements with the local animal shelters so that if a dog that looks like it's their breed--a labrador, a collie, or a shih tzu--shows up at a shelter, the shelter calls them and they come and get it. They evaluate the dog for health and temperament. They often have an arrangement with a vet to get services at a discount rate. They check for heartworm (and often find it and then treat for it, an expensive proposition). They foster it with a volunteer. And then they place it.
On December 30, 2007, Gold Ribbon Rescue had 33 dogs in foster care.
This, I figured, would be a slam dunk. I mean, they've got a lot of dogs. I'm a good pet owner. I'll have this dog in a couple of days. I actually applied several weeks ago. After a week, I got a phone call. It was my phone interview. I liked the woman who called me. She had a long list of questions--many of them the same ones that I had answered. But it was a little nerve wracking. Did we have a dog door? No, I said, but we were planning to have one put in. A dog door isn't a good thing. It won't disqualify you, but it does suggest that you don't pay close attention to when your dog goes in and out. She told me she would just put 'no' that I didn't have a dog door.
It turns out I have two things in my favor. 1. I work at home, at least most of the time. 2. We don't have small children. Most people don't work at home. And although small children will not disqualify you from getting a dog, it is assumed that you will pay more attention to your children than to the dog. Which as Adam can tell you, is not true of me.
I did pass my phone interview with flying colors. But next is the in house interview.
A volunteer comes to the house. They bring their Golden Retriever to see how we (and they stress all people and pets should be home) respond. I've heard people who are adopting children talk about when the social worker comes and now I think I understand. I'm worried that my dog food won't be good enough. I'm even more worried about Shelly. Shelly doesn't like other dogs. She liked Smith, the old dog, but that was because she was 4 months old when we brought her home and considered Smith to be her dog. In my mind I see the volunteer come with their perfectly socialized happy Golden. I see Shelly hunker under a chair, hair standing on end.
I imagine the volunteer eying Shelly while we make chipper small talk. I imagine Shelly eying the Golden with loathing. I imagine Bob and I desperately attempting to pretend everything is normal, rather like when your Uncle Oscar gets falling down drunk at a wedding and starts talking about his bitch of an ex-wife, while everyone smiles and hopes the groom doesn't punch him.
And then I imagine Shelly launching herself at the friendly, startled Golden.
Sunday. The house visit is on Sunday. I'll let you know how it goes.