Sometimes I think I’m on an involuntary quest to complicate my life but I knew I was ready and so was my family. So I’m happy to announce that it’s official, we are again pet owners! We adopted Crusher, a 10 month old golden retriever. He was an owner surrender, their situation changed so they had to move in with family (and they have 4 kids and another little dog) so they gave up this sweet boy!
But it was lucky for us. He gets along so well with Little Miss and Fussypants and is really well-behaved for a puppy. His personality makes us believe he was treated well in his previous life but we don’t think he had many of his own toys (he’s a bit of a hoarder) and he’s a little shy. We are working on his self-confidence but he’s proved to be such a sweetie. And he loves to swim!
His name was originally Laker, then the rescue group changed it to Parker but Fussypants kept calling him Peter (as in Spiderman) so we knew we needed to find him his own name.
At first Fussypants lobbied for Buster, then Pluty (which Hubs and I vetoed). Hunky hubby and I liked Crash because the pup is all legs and when he hits the tile moving fast he’s all over the place (plus it’s our song) but Fussypants ultimately decided on Crusher (nickname Crush) because Crush is the sea turtle from Finding Nemo and the Hulk (Fussypants still calls him the Incredible Hurk) smashes and crushes things (the inner workings of a 4.5 year old mind). But the name stuck and Crusher is already responding when called.
Since we’ve had him, Little Miss has added two new words to her limited verbal repertoire. She now says doggy and when asked what the doggy says she responds with wooo (which we assume is woof). She also has a partner in crime. Crusher is potty-trained but has had a few accidents, Little Miss is a gal who doesn’t like to wear her diaper. On Sunday, I can honestly say I don’t know who peed on the carpet in the hallway. The kids were playing, I had walked into my room to get a sweatshirt and Fussypants yelled out “There’s pee’! He didn’t see who did it either but both Crusher (with his golden grin) and Little Miss (with her diaper hanging half-way off) were both sitting there, and they both looked guilty. One more thing to add to my growing joys of motherhood list.
The rescue group we worked with, Stella’s Hope, is amazing. If you are in the Southern California area and want to adopt a dog, go there first. They are good people and they do good work.
I mention this for two reasons, the first to get the group some exposure. Seriously, tell a friend about them, donate to them, like their page on facebook, whatever. But associate yourself with them in some way because they are great. The second is because up until we found Stella’s Hope, we had not had a good experience with rescue groups and even one local shelter. So, my blog, my time to rant.
Turns out we were practically blacklisted because we have children under the age of 5, and particularly because we have one under 2. I get why the rescue groups are cautious but one of the reasons we wanted to go with a rescue group is because the dogs are fostered and therefore they tend to know more about the pet’s personality than a shelter does. But we were not even given a chance. We got as far as the home visits (and that’s a $20 donation) and one group rescheduled the home visit three times (I understand that these people volunteer to do this but rescheduling three times is excessive; if you are that busy then hire an assistant).
But after the home visit, we hit the dead zone. One rescue group’s dog placement coordinator called me just to let me know that they very rarely adopt dogs to families with kids under the age of 7. She used all the buzz words…dogs are high-energy, mouthy, they jump up when excited. I tried to explain that both my husband and I understood that, as we had survived our childhood as children who grew up with dogs (and his family had Rottweilers) and that we’d also had 3 dogs of our own that we raised from puppies, and that my folks have a 10 month old goldendoodle and my mom-in-law a large 1 yr old mutt that we spend a lot of time with, but she cut me off. She had only called to give me her your shit out of luck with us spiel, and had nothing more to say.
We had similar disappointing, yet through e-mail, exchanges with three other rescue groups. Even when the description accompanying the dog said “good with kids”, we were still turned down. And not always politely. I felt a little persecuted for being a parent of tots.
And one shelter made it so hard for us to just see the dog out of its cage that we almost left. Just to see the dog we had to fill out a 5 page application, give our driver’s license number and wait almost 40 minutes. Then we were told that if we wanted the dog, we wouldn’t be able to adopt him until we brought our kids back to meet him first.
What irks me the most is that these people are supposed to be in the business of finding homes for these animals yet they act like they’ve never had a dog of their own. As a responsible adult and parent, I understand the dynamic between a pet and small children. I also understand that with love, exercise and training, dogs can be very well-behaved.
We were honestly discussing going through a breeder and getting a puppy but I was still hesitant because there are so many dogs that need homes and puppies don’t sleep through the night. And Little Miss is not consistently sleeping through the night. Seriously, teething sucks (her teeth are coming in all out of order, she just got her bottom molars but is still missing most of her other bottom teeth). Since there is no way to guarantee the puppy and my daughter would be on the same ridiculous up all night schedule, I saw even less sleep in my future.
Then I saw “Parker” on petfinder.com. I called Stella’s Hope and also filled out an application and sent an e-mail. I got an e-mail back within an hour and a phone call a little after that. We were able to meet Crusher and do the home visit at the same time (with no fee) two days later and that’s when Holli suggested we do a foster scenario so that we could get to know Crusher and my husband (who was on a 72-hour work shift) could meet him. That’s all it took. I tried not to get attached but when Crusher got a clean bill of health from the vet and hubs said he liked him, my heart exploded with joy. And Holli was supportive, she provided us with everything we needed for Crusher and even called to follow-up with me. But the best part about the follow-up was that she didn’t call only to inquire about the dog, she also asked if I needed anything and how the kids were liking him.
Stella’s Hope gets that it is about the pet and the person, which is something other rescues need to work on.
Our happy family is now a little bigger, by four feet, actually. And I couldn’t be happier.