Tanya’s first adoption event went better than I expected. She wasn’t as reactive as I feared she might be though she did lunge at a brindle once. This was at an inopportune time as there was someone asking about her as she did. I haven’t had a dog with this much energy in a while and it’s wearing me out. It’s like some sort of bizarre video game where I have to guard against the aliens destroying everyday items. I’ve lost three pairs of reading glasses in three days, three rolls of toilet paper, totally shredded and scattered on the floor, three candles, and I’ve found a glass candle holder in her mouth, and now Tanya is beginning to stalk power cords, which will end poorly for her.
Tanya has learned how to jump up and grab things out of the sink which forces me to do the dishes when I should, but still…
When we arrived at the adoption event Tanya pulled on the leash and I had visions of her popping out of her collar and me having to chase her down one of the busiest main roads in Valdosta. She did manage to remember her training and she did potty in the grass so we went inside. There were two dogs really making a lot of racket and Tanya is a little on the vocal side herself. One of the dogs was a large black border collie and I wonder why someone would leave one of this breed unattended. If adoption events have a weak point it’s there are sometimes too many dogs and it’s like having fifty kids in a room up for adoption. True enough, out of the fifty dogs eleven found homes so that’s twenty percent. But the noise and the crowded conditions took a toll on both Tanya and myself.
Dog Rescue is an odd community. We know one another by our current fosters, our past fosters, the events we’re going to attend, and by what’s happening with dogs. I’ve never seen some of these people except at adoption events and likely wouldn’t recognizer others without their event tee shirts. I finally bought a tee shirt so I could look like I belong there instead of like an adoption event groupie or something like that.
As much chaos as there seems to be in each event these things are actually ran very smoothly by a very small group of volunteers who do two or more events each week. First the crates are set up, dogs are brought in, fosters come in with their crates and their dogs, things are shifted around, dogs are barking, volunteers are walking dogs, cleaning up messes, trying to calm the vocal ones, and it goes on. Lives are saved, families are united by the presence of unconditional love, and every week the same small group of people keep on keeping on.
So there was a really nice woman and her mother who came over and spoke to Tanya. They wanted a dog that would make some noise if someone came to the door. Oh, this one can hammer down when she wants to, I assured them. We talked about how adoption happens and I told them that after two weeks, if they didn’t want Tanya anymore I would take her back, no questions asked. I can’t stand the thought of a dog I love being dropped off at the shelter and I love every dog that has ever lived with me. Everything was looking good, all the lights were green, but then the woman told me Tanya would have to be an outside dog. They had a small pen, but it was under a tree, and Tanya would stay there.
Things went from good to bad and from bad to worse and they got there in a hurry.
The mother explained to me that once they bought the dog they would do what they damn well pleased with her. I explained to her that she was adopting, not buying, and there were conditions to be met before we could allow her to adopt any of our dogs. One of these would be that the dog was an inside dog. Tanya was not to be caged or tethered but kept inside with people, as a family member.
The woman seemed to think she was buying a potted plant from Wal-Mart. She asked who was in charge and I told her there were at least three rescue groups present, but Tanya wasn’t a part of a group. She was my dog. I was fronting her for the Echols County shelter but at the end of the day, Tanya belonged to me.
And here’s the thing: Foster parents have a lot to say about who can or cannot adopt an animal. We can refuse someone because we have the feeling it isn’t right. We’re not trying to find just any home for a dog but the right home, the right family, and if it isn’t right we’ll load the dog up and try again tomorrow, or next week or next month. I will not condemn Tanya to be kept in a small pen for the rest of her life, in rain and cold and heat and alone.
I will not adopt out any dog to those conditions, ever.
Dog Rescue isn’t about just getting them out of the shelter as fast as we can and getting them adopted out to just anyone. It’s about raising the bar for how pets are treated. It’s about spay and neutering, and getting people to take their pets’ health seriously. This is about we, as a species, becoming more compassionate and more empathetic when it comes to companion animals and if we have to keep a foster for a week, or two weeks, or a month, it doesn’t matter. The right home for the right dog under the right conditions or not at all.
The more I am around Rescue the more I see the same few people doing most of the work. The whole of Rescue in this area is supported on the shoulders of individuals who give up their free time and home space to save lives. As a species, as a community, as individuals, we have to understand our obligation to our companion animals is just as large and just as important as it is for those few.
We have to do better by our animals. We have to do better by those who rescue.