I am an animal lover. There have been few times in my life when I didn’t have an animal of some sort. I love them, madly. I love the unconditional affection that they give. I’m in desperate need for that kind of connection at the moment, so I recently started the process of looking for a new fur baby.
I’ve made a point to choose a pup from a shelter or rescue organization. I have narrowed down my search in terms of breed, size, personality, history of abuse, housebroken status, and location. I guess it’s like my own little matching tool.
And that’s when the parallel world of child and animal adoption began to collide, and well, make me feel all kinds of icky.
We found two pups that seemed to be good fits, but they were both adopted by others before we could make a real move.
I’m the hang up. Every time I read the requirements for adopting an animal from a local rescue organization I just have to close my web browser. The forms can be as long as 10 pages, ask for references, previous pet ownership and a bunch of other information. Most stunningly, they all expect to conduct at least one home visit.
Yeah, a home visit.
You read that right.
Hope’s and my last home visit was about 5 months ago. We had a great, great, great social worker. She has been a dream, so supportive, encouraging and a great resource. That said, I was glad when she stopped visiting officially. Prepping for her visits was a bit stressful. Actually really stressful.
So, here I am again, looking at home visits…for a dog.
Can I just give you a copy of my home study? A letter from my social worker? How about my adoption decree? They let me have a kid and I can assure you they crawled right up the crack of my fanny to make sure I was good enough, so will you let me have a dog? Please?
I mean really. REALLY. This has me all in my feels.
Oh and I asked one of the places about it. I did. The answer they gave me let me know that 1) This rescuer is kind hearted but a cuckoo, nutter full of foolishness and 2) they actually find Hope and future pup so equal that perhaps their adoption process wasn’t stringent enough.
Scratch that rescue group from the list. Whackadoos. Harrumph.
Do I really have to mimic a process that allowed me to have a daughter in order to get a pet? It feels really, really extra.
It’s extra for a couple of reasons I guess. First the adoption process, now looking back, was incredibly stressful. Laying your life bare, even when you have nothing to hide, is tough. It’s just hard to subject yourself to judgment and possible rejection. Actually, I am still emotionally drained from it; it’s like a happy ending to a really crazy drama. I didn’t realize how much I still needed to recover from the process until I initiated the “process” of looking for a new fur baby.
Second, the idea of mimicking the human adoption process in order to adopt an animal…Oy. I get it. I do on some weird level. But multiple home visits? That’s just so stunning and so very extra to me.
I need a dog. I will take care of a dog very well. But all of this is just very upsetting and just a little too reminiscent of the process I just completed to get a teenager.
December 1st, 2014 at 4:34 pm
To adopt our rescue dog from an agency it required 1 very long form, 1 hour long telephone interview, 1 supervised visit at the foster home, 1 inspection of our home, 1 day long visit at our home, and 2 follow up telephone interviews. I didn’t realize at the time the irony of the whole process. At least they didn’t ask for proof of our income and investments to prove that we can afford to feed the dog?
December 1st, 2014 at 5:53 pm
Seriously, just reading this made my heart race. It really did. 😦 I get it, I do, but it’s triggering all kinds of icky feelings. 😦
December 1st, 2014 at 5:57 pm
Maybe adopting from a rescue agency isn’t the best idea then? There are lots of amazing breeders out there that could result in a much better fit for you and Hope?
I love my rescue pup, but I can honestly say we probably wouldn’t adopt from a rescue agency again for a number of reasons including the process, the fact that what we expected to be a 50lbs dog turned out to be 90lbs full grown, and she has some issues that require a lot of time and effort. Maybe a well socialized dog from a breeder may be an all around better option? Just a thought.
December 1st, 2014 at 6:03 pm
Yeah, I think you’re right. I’ve got a couple of inquiries in with breeders in the region. 50lbs turned into 90lbs??? Holy moly! 😦
December 1st, 2014 at 6:06 pm
Yup she’s like a small horse, who is afraid of her own tail! 🙂
December 1st, 2014 at 4:45 pm
I find the whole animal rescue/foster/adopt situation disturbing because more people take action to help animals than children. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE DOGS…we have 2 incredibly spoiled boxers. BUT I love humans more.
December 1st, 2014 at 5:07 pm
To offer some perspective from the Other Side … My husband and I started a dog rescue organization and ran it for a little over five years. (We retired and handed it over to a new team in January.) Our process was every bit as stringent as you describe. The reason? MOST people – especially people who seriously want to adopt a rescue dog – are wonderful, caring, committed – all good stuff. But some of them weren’t. And some of them had all the right intentions, but not much of a clue. Our adoption process grew organically to accommodate a wide variety of concerns. Some lived near busy roads without fences, but planned to let the dog out in the yard to potty. There were the creepy ones, like the guy who wanted “another doberman for his pack” – and all his dogs had names like “Killer” and “Rogue” (there was more but I’ll spare you the details). Or the ones who wanted short-haired dogs, and expected them to live outdoors in the snow. Or the people who wanted a cute young puppy, even though they were (a) seniors who lacked the energy or even the physical ability to cope with an energetic young dog, (b) people working long business hours who expected to leave a puppy in a crate for 10 hours a day and still have it grow up house-broken and well-trained. Or the people with clumsy young children who wanted tiny dogs. Or … you get the idea. The list really is endless.
I don’t want to suggest that a dog is worth as much as a child, or is as big a commitment, or that the terrible things that happen to dogs are as terrible as when they happen to a child. But rescue is still heartbreaking work. It is enormously stressful, and we pour our hearts into every single dog. We don’t WANT to entrust them to people who might treat them carelessly, or fail to meet their basic needs, or even be cruel. We don’t want challenging dogs to go to people who will first not train them, and then get fed up and dump them.
I had people get frustrated with our process, and when I looked at them as individuals I could say yes, you probably didn’t need to go through all this. But when you’re dealing with a constant stream of dogs and applications and appeals for help, you can’t treat each person as an individual from the get-go. There isn’t time, or energy. So everyone goes through the gloppety-glop machine, and sometimes one can make a judgment call and skip a part of the process (for instance, if I got fabulous references and the interview was good, I often passed on the home visit).
The thing I would ask you to remember is, when you take home a rescue dog, you’re taking a piece of the rescuer’s heart. That dog is going to be a member of your family for a long, long time. Speaking as someone who gave away about 600 pieces of my heart until I had to stop because I no longer had the emotional capacity to carry on, if I can put hours and energy and money into saving a dog, getting it healthy, socializing it, cleaning up after it, and all the MANY other aspects of running a rescue … if I can do that, seems to me it’s not so much to ask you to put in a few hours of jumping through hoops before I cut out a piece of my heart and let you take it home…:)
December 1st, 2014 at 5:26 pm
Bella- I actually work in the animal industry so I get it on both professional and personal levels; I really do. I know why it has evolved the way it has. And losing my dog this past summer was like losing a part of my heart.
I’m still a fan of rescue, but none of that changes the icky feels I’m feeling. Because of the industry I work in I anticipated it to some degree, but I underestimated my own emotional response to such a process, having gone through the process of adopting my daughter. I recognize that is also “a few hours” of process for us, but it does trigger feelings about a much longer justifiably, invasive process that it mimics in some ways, and those feelings are valid too. So much so that I may have to consider sourcing my new pet elsewhere because it is painful. I get the why; I do. But it is still revealing about my own feelings going through the last two years.
December 1st, 2014 at 6:57 pm
I can certainly understand that – and I’m glad you understand where I’m coming from. I hope it isn’t too long before you find a dog who is a great fit for your little family…:)
December 1st, 2014 at 5:08 pm
I’m sure it brought back many similarities and feelings – mom and dad didn’t have to go through the HS again, it was waived for me (guess I was ultra special or they just wanted to get me into a home)…
You’ll find a wonderful friend – can’t imagine my life without at least one, and yes, I have the adoption papers of my current buddy who is laying on her doggie bed by my side as I write this…
No idea what kind of dog you are looking for but leaving this link in case you are interested.
December 1st, 2014 at 5:57 pm
I love beagles! Actually we could’ve adopted one from the county shelter this weekend as they had a litter of 2 month olds available–so cute! But we’re condo-dwellers and beagles are too close to our max size and they need more room than we have to offer. I”m looking at maltese, shih tzu, yorkie type mixes for now. 🙂
December 1st, 2014 at 8:56 pm
*reads post, nods head, slowly backs out of comment section*
December 2nd, 2014 at 12:42 pm
Oh I hear you. I have lots to say about it, but let me just affirm your feelings. Also, we have rescue groups that allow you to walk in to the pet store with no intention of bringing home a pet and 30 minutes later have a new doggie in your car. I know this from personal experience. Come visit and take home a pet 😉
December 2nd, 2014 at 7:15 pm
Listen…I thought I was the only one. I got my Boston Terrier from a rescue group and I had a phone interview, 2 visits with the ‘foster family’ and a home visit. I was side-eyeing the whole process but I ended up with the laziest dog on earth which worked out perfectly. My sister told me the other day that Toby is more like a cat and I shamefully had to agree, lol.