Sometimes life leads you to places that you never dreamed that you would be. It could be a good place or a bad place. Either way, anything in life is possible. If I think back on where I was last year, I would probably be awake checking out websites for dogs that were up for adoption. Now, I am wide awake because of the websites that tell you the dogs that are up for adoption.
We brought Lucky the Beagle home on Jan. 14, 2014 (see ‘Getting Lucky: A Blog with a Dog’) and by early January we just had a hunch that he was not intended to be an only dog. In his shelter picture he has this huge grin on his face and though he seemed content to be settled into his new home with his new people, I was beginning to feel that he needed a little friend.
So started the late night scrolls on social media for a friend for Lucky. When we saw that there was a 2 year old Beagle at a local shelter we jumped. Here stood my family (well 5 out of 6) with dog in tow ready to meet a possible ‘candidate’. Lucky sniffed him out and deemed him worthy. If I would have totally denied having a teenager, we probably would have brought this ‘Snoopy’ home. But, honesty has always been my best policy and because of their policy since my WHOLE family wasn’t there….no dice.
The second possible candidate was a 7 year old Beagle in a shelter 40 minutes out. I took Lucky and my 4yo daughter and we met with a barking, graying, mounting dog that just seemed to ‘not be the best fit’.
Despite having a one week vacation booked, something still stirred within me that said that we should keep looking.
I think there was a brief stop at the local shelter to see a Shih Tzu that was quickly a U turn because of the ‘Shouldn’t be with young children’ warning label.
It was a Saturday in late February. Six out of 6 of my family members were home. I was tired of looking at dog adoption websites. We were going to get that second dog today.
When I saw the shaggy Cocker Spaniels, I was drawn to their subdued demeanor. One was 6 years old, the other was 10, and they had just recently been surrendered.
I would like to take a moment to explain my thought process so that you don’t think that I am a heartless human being.
1. I have one dog.
2. I am a new dog owner.
3. This dog is used to living with another dog.
4. I only want to have two dogs.
5. The 6 year old dog is younger.
6. There is a cost to adopting and taking care of dogs.
7. I have 4 kids and I am a little crazy for even being here looking at a second dog.
We took ‘Bailey’ into the visiting room and he paced the floor with a content, but oblivious disregard for us. Lucky seemed to be at ease with him. The kids thought he looked like a fuzzy teddy bear.
The papers were signed and after a few days of vet visits Bailey would be coming home. I knew that Bailey’s brother Riley was going to be up for adoption, but I knew that he would go quickly. I left my phone number and requested the staff to pass onto the new owners for future reference. I had settled into the thought that the brothers would be starting a new chapter of life. Like when human siblings leave the nest to marry and have their own children, I picture meeting up with some stranger at a park on behalf of a brother reunion where they would ‘catch up on old times’. Riley was older and would be doted on with a new family. It would be fine.
Yep…this is kind of what happens when a naïve new pet owner completely falls into a pet store mentality and has no clue about what it means when dog siblings are ‘bonded’. Here I was with my ‘ooh they are cute, I’ll take one’ hastiness, but it really did have some logic to it.
Bring on the critics.
“Bailey has been adopted!” announces Facebook.
My husband and I quickly became the most loathed people on the internet because clearly we went to the animal shelter to destroy animal psyche. A simple, “I hope they will consider adopting both” would have been suitable or I could even laugh at the response of ‘Who needs a husband?’ to my ‘I’d have to get rid of one husband to get three dogs’ comment, but as with anything on social media, passions soar in somewhat misguided and offensive ways.
By this point in my life, I know that it really doesn’t matter what people really think of you….it’s about learning about you and reconciling that to yourself. My husband was feeling the heat and we really had 3 options.
1. Press on and say ‘Hi’ to the haters.
2. Pass on the adoption and let some nice couple get both dogs.
3. Be the nice couple and get both dogs.
One prayer, two softened hearts, two open minds and a realization that our lives would be chaotic for the next 10 years anyways later, we couldn’t get back to the shelter fast enough to make sure that ‘Old Man Riley’ wasn’t swiped up.
The shelter staff apologized for some of the social media backlash and were able to somewhat condense the fee of the adoption because they were siblings (for which I was grateful).
The dogs had to have their ears cleared up before they came home. They were not in good shape (as depicted on social media). I suddenly realized that I could be bringing home 2 deaf dogs. Dear Lord, what have I gotten myself into? Again came some social media critics and I was surprised to see one commenter quietly defending the owner who had surrendered the dogs. “I know the owner of these dogs and she loved them, it must have been really hard for her to surrender them”.
I would soon get an inbox message from a friend of the past owner of ‘Bailey’ and ‘Riley’, which would lead me to a phone call with their previous owner. A treasured series of exchanges of information, heart pouring, and pictures throughout the year would follow. I would learn about their birthdays, their love of tennis balls, the quirky way Riley would eat corn on the cob, their sleeping arrangements. I learned that they had the same father, but different mother, but mostly I learned that they were loved.
People have to surrender their dogs for so many different reasons. This person had to do what was best for the dogs. She had been working two jobs, had lost a house, had to move elsewhere, couldn’t bring the dogs. One bonus life lesson that I would learn is compassion for people who need to surrender their beloved pets. When they would snuggle on the couch with me I would feel some melancholy that they were not there to help comfort their previous owner who was going through some tough times. I would also look at Lucky who I have no background information about, and wonder what kind of family he came from.
Ironically, but completely expected, we brought Bailey and Riley home on my son’s 10th birthday. I picked Joey up early from school, bought him a video game, and we went to pick up our new furry bundles of joy. We had done it, we had actually gone from 0 to 3 dogs in 41 days…who knew? They are family dogs, but clearly they are Mama’s boys…..but more on that with an upcoming ‘Dog Ma’ blog post.