Once again, time passed and we grieved. Once again, we knew we loved and needed a dog in our lives. We were better people in such an arrangement. We went through another rescue organization and the result was different this time.
Our third dog was a combination Pug and Jack Russell terrier. Small (24 pounds), cute, very energetic. He was with us for four weeks. The back story came out slowly …after he was adopted by us. He was 5 years old and had been used as a “breeder” dog. He had no contact with humans (adults or children), or other dogs (except for obvious reasons), was never taken for walks, had no toys or treats, had no idea what a ball was, and knew no commands. He had a physical condition that was not addressed properly and it was assumed we would arrange and pay for its completion. His time with us ended abruptly. During a walk, he tried to bite the face of the friendliest dog in the neighborhood who happened to be three times his size. The quick reflexes of the other dog avoided tragedy. Shortly afterward, while sitting on my lap being petted, he turned his head around and bit my arm.
Numerous calls with the Foster parent and her superiors in the organization resulted in the dog being taken back. We were told he needed 6-12 months more training before being placed. A friend told us the organization made him available for adoption 7 weeks later. We have no idea what happened to him.
We were devastated. We had become emotionally attached to him quickly. We felt betrayed by the organization which gave him to us. More than anything, we felt sorry for him. Five years of an unsatisfactory life followed by inadequate (re)socialization before placement in a new home and a failure experience. What would be his future?
Adding to our difficult situation, we began to hear of similar situations of poor interactions with rescue agencies. Dogs’ lives had been saved, only to have them placed too quickly into an environment for which success was not possible. What were we going to do? Going to a breeder was too expensive an option to consider. We contacted friends and organizations online half-heartedly hoping for a new outcome.
By accident or good fortune, we found an organization that sounded different. Dogs were found or removed from poor situations, just as in other rescues. Their medical issues were addressed completely. Their behavior was evaluated and problems were addressed before placement was considered. That was the description according to the internet.
We found a dog within that organization who we would consider adopting. My wife called the local Foster family who was taking care of her. The telephone call changed everything. The caretaker was sympathetic about our recent experience. We talked about the dog we had seen available online. We were told the dog was considered a “Heinz 57” dog –a combination of many breeds. In this case, part Lab (of course), part pointer, part pit bull. She weighed 47 pounds, was affectionate, liked walking but was not extremely energetic. There was one problem. She was being treated for heart worm. Two months would be necessary for the treatment to be complete. But during that time she would reside with this Foster parent and treatment would be paid for by the rescue. It was agreed we would continue looking for a dog, but we would call back when treatment was completed if our search was unsuccessful. The dog’s name was Luna (pictured below).
We continued our search. Four times we followed up an online lead only to find we were “a day late and a dollar short.” The dogs we found interesting had been placed. Eventually, we realized it had been almost two months since our call to the impressive Foster parent who happened to live a few miles from us. We contacted her again.
Luna had been placed. A couple was willing to assume the final cost of completing heart worm treatment and Luna had gone to live with them. Our reaction, after the telephone call, was sadness, anger, and a sense of defeat. We were tired of trying to find a dog that would fit into our lives only to find we just missed them.
A few days went by and we received a call from Luna’s Foster mother. There were problems with the placement. Twice Luna had gotten out of her new home and was “temporarily” lost. A follow-up on the circumstances of her “escapes” brought conflicting stories. The adopting couple and the Foster mother agreed it would be best if Luna was returned to her Foster mother. That was the “good” news. The “bad” news was that another person was interested in adopting a dog and had narrowed their choice to Luna and another dog. A decision would be made the following day. We said we were still interested and asked that we be called when a decision was made.
Twenty four hours later, we received a call. The interested person had decided to go with the other dog. We were asked: “If you’re still interested, when would you like to meet Luna?” Our answer: “How soon could we see her?” “How would the day after tomorrow be?” “Fine.” A time was arranged and directions to Luna’s Foster home were given.
On the door to Luna’s “temporary” home was a sign: “Ring the bell and a dog will answer.” We rang. When the door was opened by a tall, smiling woman, she was closely followed by two dogs eager to meet visitors. Every ring of the door bell could be “the one” that led a dog to their final home. No ring could be ignored. We entered and began to talk with the Foster mother about the 6 dogs living in her home: 3 were her own, 3 were being fostered.
As the discussion about Luna drew to a close, we became aware of two things. While we did our best to not speak, touch, or look at a specific dog (giving them time to form their own opinion about us), they circled and sniffed us without hesitation. The black one, with white feet and chest, weighing 47 pounds was Luna. And as we three humans moved into the adjoining kitchen to sit down and continue talking, all 6 dogs came in to participate in the discussion. Every dog was interested in visitors. Every dog was quiet, though active. No one barked or fought or tried to monopolize the visitors. They acted as if they knew there would be time for them all to become acquainted. They were correct. Someone had trained these dogs well. Lucky for us, we were talking to that person, as well as meeting every dog. Which were permanent residents and who were being fostered? We could not tell. A good sign we thought.
We were asked a final question: “When would you like to take Luna home?” Our answer: “We’re busy tomorrow making final preparations (eg, buying a crate, food, a few toys and treats). Would the next day fit into your schedule?” It would, and a time for pick up was set.
That was 6 weeks ago. Luna is a part of our family. Her heart worm treatment is over. In five months, she’ll be tested to be certain the problem is permanently eliminated. How are things going? Two observations are obvious just by looking at her –in addition to her being incredibly cute. Her dark coat looks like a black velvet canvas without the prerequisite picture of Elvis or wild horses. Her 47 pounds are pure muscle and produce more pulling power than some cars we have owned. Plus: she and we have worked out the times for meals and snacks, and, of course, walks. She likes car rides, but doesn’t need to have her head out the window. She is affectionate with us and everyone who visits our home. She must meet every human (adults and children) and dog and pulls toward them on sight. She smells and kisses everyone and lets everyone pet her. The whole neighborhood knows her. And likes her. Given her age (between 1 and 2 years), she can be very active in her play with other dogs, but not aggressive.
One piece of the puzzle was missing. She has no idea what to do with a ball. I must remember: she is a pointer, not a retriever. Perhaps I can teach a new dog a new trick. If not, perhaps she will teach me a lesson: there’s more to a dog’s life than playing catch. More to our lives, as well. We smile every time we see her. She always likes to be rubbed. She seldom barks even if the mailman brings a package to our front porch. We seldom raise our voices, except to laugh. Apparently, the saying heard so often is correct: We rescued her, and she rescued us right back.
UPDATE: The vet has cleared Luna of heart worm officially. She celebrated with a walk, followed by a tasty Greenie.