Tuesday, August 10, 2010

These Are the Days To Hold Onto

This is where it all began. A few weeks ago we spent some time with friends on Chappaquidick Island off Martha's Vineyard. Our friends had a dog named Chappy and Michael fell head over heels in love. Seeing my oldest son romping in the sand with Chappy made my heart smile. (JOY!!!!) It also made me sad to realize that Michael will be 11 in just a few months. My beautiful son is not going to be a little boy much longer and it just doesn't seem possible. Before our vacation was over, I knew I needed to get him a dog. If nothing else - maybe it would lengthen the time I have him as that little boy? Sniff...

So after much thought, I started my search. The on-line sites really frustrated me. The application process required turning over your first born and it seemed you were really boxed in with respect to making an informed intelligent decision on which dog you would like. Most/many were out of state dogs and the whole ordeal was just THAT - an ordeal.

After questioning a few people who had been through rescue adoptions, I located an organization http://www.companionpetrescue.com/ that rounded up dogs from something called kill shelters. Apparently there are a LOT of homeless dogs in the south of our country and the solution is to euthanize those unlucky enough to be captured and placed in a kill shelter. I found out there was an adoption event in the far Northwest of our state on August 7th and I decided to check it out.

At this point, I had not even told my husband I was thinking of getting a dog. So I had to get past that hurtle first. Surprisingly - that wasn't too difficult. I decided to take only Michael to the adoption site and we set out at 8:50 on Saturday morning. Who knew Northwest Connecticut was so far away!!! Yikes! It was a good hour and 45 minutes. But after only one wrong turn, we arrived at our destination.

Now mind you, I spent a good part of the ride talking to Michael about choosing carefully, the possibility of walking away without a dog, blah, blah, in one ear and out the other...

So we walk into the designated area and Michael makes a beeline to a pen with 2 tiny puppies in it.

"I want THAT one over there!!" "Not yet you don't."
"Yes, I do." "Mike, you haven't even looked at the other puppies!"
"I don't need to. I want the one over there." "NO - we need to look at other dogs. What if there's another one you like better?" "There won't be." "Mikeeeee."
"Okkkkkk." Mom - round one!
"How about this one, Mike?" "No."
"This one's cute, Mike." "I want that one over there."
Sigh, "Let's hold this cute black puppy." "Let's hold that black and white one over there."

And so - we adopted that one over there. Her name is Daisy and you know what? That one over there was the right one. She is an absolute angel and I am MADLY in love. I sense Daisy will be providing me many years of joy. Joy watching my oldest grow up with his dog. Joy because Daisy loves ME!!! Joy because all 3 kids AND Dad love Daisy. Joy because Daisy will be a part of our memories from this moment on. Joy because I am getting the SWEETEST revenge on my cats!!!!! (I did NOT just say that.)

It just occurred to me that dogs can live a long time. At the very least - 10 years! That means that 8 Augusts from now, Michael will be going away to college. And Daisy? She'll be home taking care of Michael's weeping Mom. Thank god for that one over there.

And OHBTW? Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. I LOVE YOU DAISY!


  1. Tears of Joy. Goosebumps too :-)

  2. Hurray for adopting Daisy instead of buying from a breeder, or worse, a pet store (who gets their pups from puppy mills).
    I'm Shelter Manager at a large open admissions shelter in Kentucky, & I can explain what a "kill shelter" is. Part of my job is explaining that very term over & over every day.
    Open admissions facilities ("kill" shelters) take in any companion animal regardless of age, health, temperament or space. They are there for all pet owners, even if it means making difficult decisions once the pet is relinquished, the philosophy being that there is more suffering for unwanted, unloved strays out on the streets than in a sheltering environment. KHS hasn't euthanized an animal due to shelter overcrowding in 1 1/2 years, but we are striving to make that statistic true for our entire community. While our overall euthanasia rate (for all reasons, including health & temperament) is extraordinarily low compared to other open admission shelters like ours, we won't be satisfied until every adoptable pet finds a home.
    "No kill" shelters are also referred to as selective intake or limited admissions facilities. Such agencies typically accept pets only if space is available, if they pass age, health & behavior criteria, & also have a high likelihood of being adopted. So they'll take the 3 yr old Chihuahua, but they'll turn away the 6 yr old black lab. Pets brought to these shelters that don't fit their criteria are declined acceptance, & if their owners have to take them somewhere, they may be referred to an open admissions facility.
    The bottom line is that are too many pets & not enough homes. But, together, we can eradicate this problem in two simple ways:
    First, spay or neuter your pet - & encourage all your friends & family to do the same. According to Spay USA, 1 un-spayed female dog & her offspring can reproduce 67,000 puppies in six years, & 1 un-spayed female cat & her offspring can reproduce up to 11,600,000 kittens in 9 years. Those statistics are staggering, but we can stop this seemingly endless cycle, if more people choose to spay & neuter their pets. Not only will an altered pet live three to five years longer, but more importantly, a spayed or neutered animal will help prevent 1000s of unwanted pets in the future.
    Second, more people need to choose the "adoption option" when looking to add a pet to their family. According to the Humane Society of the United States, less than 20 % of people acquire their pet from a sheltering agency. With 80 % of people going elsewhere, it's obvious that we need to make more people aware of the benefits of adopting a canine or feline friend.
    Last year, our organization set a new record by placing 6,149 dogs & cats in homes. While we are proud of this accomplishment, there is still so much work to be d1. More people need to know that the "adoption option" is not only a great deal financially, but most importantly, it means a homeless pet is getting a second chance at happiness. People who adopt from a shelter help make a difference not just for that 1 animal they adopted, but for the other pets who come to shelters needing help...& a chance at finding a home.
    Finally, if you have a shelter or rescue group in your area, consider volunteering. We couldn't do the amazing, life-saving work we do without the help of our dedicated volunteers. They do everything from special events to clerical work to walking the shelter dogs to fostering newborn kittens. Your local rescue or shelter might need your help, too!
    Sorry for the long comment - can you tell I'm passionate about my work?! Now I think I'm headed out to the hammock to enjoy this beautiful day & my own 6 sweet dogs - all rescues, of course!
    xox, Susan