How did you think your adoption story would go? Did reality meet those expectations? Was it all that you thought it was going to be?
I envisioned finding my own dog as being a ‘love at first sight’ type of encounter. A dog would need rescuing and I would be there to be the hero. He would reach out his paws, my heart would flutter and that would be it. As you may have read previously, that was not how my story went.
A day of looking for a dog during an adopt-a-thon put on by the local humane society, I ran out of dog options. At a staff members' suggestion, I was introduced to Charles. I booked an interview to learn more about him, to meet him and for the humane society to see if I was the right fit. I waited for over an hour to get a turn to meet the dog and for me to get interviewed by the shelter.
A staff member came out to get me and put me into what I would call an interrogation room. We were in there for two hours and I am not exaggerating when I say that. Charles was not there, just me and that staff member. They asked questions about previous experiences with dogs, about my schedule, my belief system about training and the method of training ie: choke collars, etc. They gave me many hypothetical scenarios. It was quickly evident that the staff member did not like my doting attitude towards dogs and quickly reminded me that over loving and coddling dogs without boundaries and training is another form of abuse. That quickly got my back up as I proceeded to explain to her that I am quite capable of maintaining boundaries and correcting negative behaviour despite my doting love of dogs. This swift change in attitude seem to have worked and finally won the staff over, as she allowed me to move to the next portion of the interview; the meet and greet.
My brief encounter with Charles consisted of a quick walk outside with the interviewer. They told me that he needed to always walk on the left side of me, and that I should not interact with him using the high-pitched voice that I was inclined to use. I barely said a word to the dog and touched him minimally, just enough to know that I did not have an initial allergic reaction. He did not sit by me or give any sign of 'meant to be'. I was not allowed to be myself and was basically given a set of rules when interacting with this dog. This strict criteria would make sense if they were actually aware of all of his challenges (reactivity etc.) and I would have of course taken it seriously, but they knew none of that. To this day I am not sure why I was given such strict perimeters and why I was talked out of being myself.
Two-hour interview and a quick meet and greet with Charles, surely I could now take him home? Nope. Since Charles was listed as having a minor but permanent skin issue, they insisted that I take a day to speak to my vet and think about whether I can handle the financial responsibility to provide him with the appropriate life style. They put him on a 24 hour hold and I left. That, my friends, was sign number three and the biggest red flag there was.
I barely slept. My ego was bruised. They made me feel like an incompetent person with an inability to discipline a dog or keep one alive successfully. By morning I was thinking 'eff off', I can do this. Worse people than I, have and had pets successfully. How much worse can I be?! As suggested, I did go to the vet to see how much his skin issues would cost me on a regular basis. However, by the end of asking advice about 'my dog' and discussing a course of action for his skin condition, I knew that I would go back for him. It felt nice to discuss ‘my dog’ even if it was still hypothetical.
I confidentiality marched into a pet store to buy some bowls and treats, and I even got one last self-indulgent pedicure in. I called the shelter to ensure I would be back and that he was still there for me! *bruised egos should never be the reason to get a dog, also good on the shelter for their thorough vetting process! *
Then, with the ridiculous state of tension and anxiety I subway-ed and streetcar-ed to the humane society. They made me wait for about three hours before I had a chance to officially take him home, perhaps another red flag.
In the meantime, I passed the time checking in on him, seeing him bark a few times, and witness the hordes of people stopping to stare at him. Much like a proud parent, I told each of them that he was now mine! I even met a family and another woman who put their names on a list as potential adopter in case things did not work out for me. Did I mention I never told anyone about this? I finally called my parents during the three-hour wait to inform them that they’ll be grandparents. Thus, on February 15th around 5pm, I got in a cab and took Charley home.
Just like that, with all the red flags, hours upon hours to think and a bruised ego, I decided that Charles, now Charley, formerly Coco, would be my dog.
Do you remember those first moments of adoption? Did you record or take photos on that day?