Puppy Love

I have always loved animals and growing up we always had dogs. The last dog that I had, I got when I was in college. Nica lived with my parents until she died at the age of 12 or 13, about 13 years ago.  Tom and I have taken in a couple of stray cats,  a stray tortoise and  five birds over the last 19 years.  We currently have the tortoise (T-Bone) and 3 Parrots (Valentino, Molly and Cass).  The cats and other two birds have since passed away, each time leaving a tiny hole in our hearts.  I have loved all of these pets, but have missed having a dog.

A couple of months ago we started looking for dogs. Tom visited a greyhound rescue center and we have been searching the internet for standard poodles. These, we thought, were our dogs of choice.  Since Tom plans to retire in early May, the time was right to start the hunt for our dog; however, Tom had started worrying about mixing a dog and birds so I worried that maybe a dog wasn’t in my future after all.

One Saturday, about 10 days ago I saw Tom looking at dogs online.  I decided to act while he seemed open to the possibility and starting looking at poodle rescue services.  I noticed  a posting about a standard poodle at our local animal shelter.  I somehow convinced Tom that this was fate and we needed to go look at him. When we got to the shelter the poodle was gone, but the shelter was full of other dogs.

After looking in all the enclosures a couple of times and talking to a few dogs, we saw a puggle puppy that we thought might be the dog for us.  She seemed very calm and we thought she was older than the 5 months they had listed for her.  I also stopped to talk to a quiet terrier mix with a very sweet face, but was hesitant because she was listed as “returned”.  The puggle was not ready for visits so we decided we would come back when she was.

We returned the next day hoping to see the puggle again and turn in an application to adopt her. She was still not ready for a visit, but I was again drawn to the 2-year-old terrier mix named Ann Marie.  She was sitting calmly in her enclosure while the other dogs jumped and barked.

I asked about Ann Marie and the staff perked up saying she was a great dog and they really hoped she would find a home. She had been rescued from a pet hoarder and had gone home with an elderly lady who decided she was “too big” for her apartment and returned her to the shelter 4 days later.  She had been at the shelter for about four months, except for those 4 days.

I asked to interact with her and we were asked to step outside, someone would bring  her out. While we were waiting for her to come out, we saw the puggle coming back from her walk.  In that setting, it was evident that she was a young puppy – in my mind’s eye all I could see was all of my shoes chewed and my house destroyed. In that moment, I realized that maybe the puggle was not for us.

Ann Marie was led out and timidly greeted us on the way to the dog run. She did not pay much attention to us at first, but gradually warmed up and interacted with us in a shy, but playful manner. After playing with her for a short time and talking to the handler about her, we were hooked.

We told them that we would like to adopt her. We were ready to take her home, but were told that due to her nervousness (?) and circumstance we needed to meet with the trainer before we could be approved to adopt her.    We reluctantly left the shelter without Ann Marie.

I called and left a message on Monday, since I was told that if I did so the trainer may call back to set up an appointment even though the shelter is closed on Mondays.  No answer and no call back on Monday. I called on Tuesday and was told that the trainer would not be back until Thursday, maybe, and that they could not make an appointment nor did they know the trainers schedule.  Not super helpful.

I decided to call back later in the day to see if I could get any more information about the likelihood of an appointment on Thursday.   I explained that since the shelter closes at 4:00 PM and I don’t get off work until 4:30 PM I would need to take time off work and anything they could tell me about the likelihood of an appointment on Thursday afternoon would be very much appreciated. Again, I was told they were very sorry, but that I would have to wait until the trainer came in and that may or may not be on Thursday.  Nobody knew for sure if she would be in and what time it might be.  This did not help my  already less than stellar opinion of the organizational skills of this shelter.  It made me wonder if they wanted to find these dogs homes or not after all, I wanted to give a dog a good home and these people seemed to be reluctant to let Tom and I adopt her.

Tom begin to worry that Ann Marie might have some problems that the shelter had not shared.  I was almost sure that the shelter was either very poorly run or the trainer was extraordinarily controlling and the staff did not want to cross her. Whatever the case, I was feeling negative about the whole situation.  I am also not particularly tolerant of “rules” that don’t seem to make any sense at all.

It is not in my personality to give up so I figured I would just call back on Thursday and see if I could get in touch with the trainer. I was going to stalk this elusive trainer until she agreed to meet with us.  In the meantime, Tom and I planned to visit Ann Marie on Wednesday, the one night a week the shelter is open late.

On Wednesday morning,  I received a call from Jennifer,  one of the managers at the shelter.  She said she had been given my name as being interesting in adopting Ann Marie, had reviewed our application and wanted to know if Tom and I could come in to meet with one of the certified dog walkers.  She was not sure when the trainer would be back and she wanted to place Ann Marie with us if we were a good fit.   Finally, someone who seemed interested in finding homes for dogs!  I was very excited and grateful. I arranged to leave work early and Tom and I went down to the shelter.

We met with a couple of the certified dog walkers who again told us what a wonderful, sweet dog Ann Marie was.  They could not understand why she had not found her forever home (could be that “returned” note on her enclosure information?).  They felt that we were a good match and Jennifer approved the adoption. We could take Ann Marie home!  We filled out the paperwork,  reviewed all of her medical information and paid the associated fees. The people at the shelter cried when we took her.  It was obvious they really liked this dog and were glad she had found a home.

On a rainy Wednesday evening, February 15, 2012, Ann Marie joined the Morse clan. After a not so short stop at Petco to buy all of the necessities and a bunch of stuff she probably didn’t need, we introduced her to our flock and her new home.

Ann Marie fits into our family perfectly. She does not bark or jump around and has not shown any aggression toward the birds. The birds, on the other hand, have not been all that welcoming with Cass (the african grey) growling at her every time she comes near and Valentino (the macaw) trying to bite her nose at every chance he gets, but as the days have gone on, they are getting used to having her around.

In the five or so days since we have had her, she has had many experiences that I imagine are new to her.  She is a bit wary and fearful of some things.  She saw a Pekingese today and about jumped out of her skin, but they are a bit unusual looking so we can’t really hold that against her.

This past weekend she met the family (My mom, dad, sister and nieces). She  played with my Mom’s recently rescued Australian Shepard Brin and greeted all of the people. The dogs got along just fine and playing with Brin  brought out the playful side of the usually very mellow Ann Marie. She has been on several car rides and to all of my favorite haunts – Golden Spoon, the harbor – and even a brief stop at my office.

My husband who “is not really a dog person” is spoiling her rotten and I am wondering why we waited so long to add a furry friend to our nest.

If you are thinking of getting a dog, please consider adopting an adult dog from an animal shelter.  So many dogs like Ann Marie need a good home.  We got her from a humane shelter, but so many dogs are not lucky enough to end up at a humane shelter or to find a home.

While know you and I can’t save them all,  I also know that I will make a difference in one dogs life – maybe you can too.