Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Exploring the Dog Shelter

I couldn't stand seeing how listless Midge has been since Monty died, so I went outside and asked Gabbrielle if we should get another dog. She perked her ears forward and nodded her massive, yet dainty horse head. Of course Gabbrielle would say yes. She adores dogs.

I told my husband I was willing to go see what they had at the animal shelter since they hadn't updated their website since mid-June. My husband, son and I all piled into the car and headed out. I didn't have high expectations, because the last time I visited the animal shelter I found a bunch of dogs I was interested in, but the volunteers wouldn't let me consider any of them for one reason or another. All I heard was, "That dog wouldn't work for you because..."

They kept pushing this one dog on me (and everyone else who came in) that was not in line with what I was hoping for. I left empty-handed. This time all the employees and volunteers we spoke with were very helpful and open-minded. They let us look and didn't force us to only consider a subset of dogs.

I was hoping to find a small, short-haired older dog who wasn't a heavy barker. My only rule on breeds beyond that was no Pit Bulls. Of course, 75% of the dogs in the shelter either were Pit Bulls or Pit Bull mixes. My husband was attracted to a Border Collie mix, but it's hair was too long for me, and each time it ran outside it barked at everything that moved. It was hard for me dealing with Monty while working from home, because he barked every time I let him outside, so I had to keep leaving my desk to supervise him outside, and then bring him back in right away.

There was a really pretty white medium-haired Shepard, a senior dog that had just had surgery to remove a fatty tumor. We both liked her a lot, but we were looking for a male dog. I don't know if it's true, but I've been told by animal shelter volunteers that female dogs don't get along well. It's better to have one female and several males. I'm sure there are exceptions. However, my other concern was that this white Shepard probably didn't have more than a couple of years left in her life and I didn't want Midge to lose another buddy right away. I wanted a dog closer to Midge's age.

The Chiweenie, as Lisa called it, that I saw on the website had already been adopted... three times. Apparently, he kept having accidents on the carpet, so people kept bringing him back. A lady with a doggie door in her house finally adopted him and the problem was solved. I guess little dogs have little bladders and must be let outside often.

The nicest, quietest, most well behaved dog in the bunch was this huge Bloodhound / Bull Mastiff mix that was 10 years old. He connected with me and wagged his tail when I spoke to him. We took him out on a leash to the play area, ran around with him, gave him commands like "sit", "shake" and "come", and he was very well trained. His history was that his owners left him with a dog sitter while they went on vacation, and they never came back. He had only been in the shelter a few days.

There was absolutely nothing negative about this dog other than that he was huge, and I really want a little dog. Our house isn't terribly spacious, and one of the problems I had with Monty was that he always laid across doorways and refused to move when people needed to walk through. However, as soon as we tried to step over him, he'd start to stand up and trip us. One time he tripped me while I was carrying a laundry basket, and I thought I cracked my kneecap when I fell. Little dogs are good about avoiding people's feet. I can walk when Midge is close by, and she understands that it is her responsibility to avoid getting stepped on.

On the other hand, a dog as big as this Bloodhound / Bull Mastiff would make a great guard dog to intimidate trespassers. They did tell us he's an indoor dog, though.

The only little short-haired dog they had was a Pug mix that was morbidly overweight. I could deal with helping the dog lose weight, but my husband wouldn't have anything to do with the dog because it growled at us each time we came near it. He didn't want a territorial dog who was going to be over-protective of its people and space.

So, we left empty-handed again, but at least this time we have a better idea of what will and won't work for us. Plus we know we can keep going back to look at new dogs without being pressured into getting a dog we don't want. However, next time I go, I'm taking an antihistamine ahead of time. I'm very allergic to cats, and though we didn't go into the cat section of the shelter, all that animal dander floating around in the air did a number on my sinuses. My head was throbbing and I felt nauseated by the time I got home.

I suspect it will be a long wait until an older short-haired small dog shows up at the shelter. The most common breed the you find in shelters in my area that fits that description is the Chihuahua. I keep seeing the same story over and over in which the Chihuahua attaches itself to one person in the family and bites everyone else, so the owners have to find it a new home. Though this seems to be a common problem, I'm sure it isn't the rule with all Chihuahuas, and for those that do have this problem, I'm sure there are training methods to overcome it.

Of course, I'll be keeping my eye out for Corgi mixes. Since purebred Corgis are so expensive, I doubt I'll ever see one of those in my local shelter. It's hard enough to find a Corgi breeder in my area. Then when you do get a purebred dog, it has all these health problems because of inbreeding. Yup. I think I'll wait for the right mutt.


fernvalley01 said...

The ginormous MAstiff blood hound sounds sweet , but huge! . Good luck in your search. Good that you didn't settle for what was not quite right, there is time

Jeni said...

Our "pound puppy" is Libby. She is a dashound and springer spaniel mix. Smartest little dog I've ever known. New trick every week, barks when ppl come to the door but never any other time unless I ask her to "sing for her dinner".

Stick with it you will eventually find the perfect pal for midge

Breathe said...

I vote for the Mastiff. Yes, it's big, but it's well behaved and will know to stay out of the way.

Plus you need some muscle with the neighbors.

Have you tried Petfinder? Its got dogs from rescues and many rescues prefer the kind of home you offer - where the dog won't be alone all day.

Reddunappy said...

Good luck finding a new pet. We have yet to figure out what we are going to do. Dublin goes back to Guide dogs probably by Oct. so we will be without a dog, I dont know if I can handle that!! I want my foot warmer and my alarm!!

Leah Fry said...

You'll find the right one, or it will find you.

I'm sure the big dog was nice, but they don't live as long as smaller ones. 10 years old is ancient for a giant breed.

Stacey said...

Good luck in the dog search. Have you tried Craigslist for your area?

Anonymous said...

The right dog will find you. A few years ago I spent months looking for "the right dog" without success. I saw her standing in an intersection near my home. She jumped in my truck and refused to get out. I drove home with her and she hopped right out and went straight to the (hidden) back door. How weird is that? No response to ads, reports to animal cobtrol, law enforcement, etc., so she was mine, or I was hers. And she was perfect!

Anna said...

Pit bulls are remarkable dogs. I have never had a negative experience with one. It all depends on how they are raised. To give you an idea of how AWESOME these dogs are, 98% of the pits at Micheal Vick's house have been adopted out and a fair amount have gone on to be therapy dogs!
That mastiff sounds like a DREAM. I had a English Mastiff who I miss every day. She was a doll baby. The good thing about Mastiffs is they generally move out of your way and don't get into much. Granted, MINE was also a inside/outside dog.

Katharine Swan said...

I saw someone mentioned Craigslist, so I just wanted to say be careful if you go that route. For one thing, you don't know anything about the dog, or if they have any communicable diseases, where at least a dog from a shelter has had shots and a vet check. But also, there are a lot of crappy backyard breeders who sell on Craigslist -- at least, in Denver there are -- and in addition to concerns about supporting their "business," you also have to worry about whether they are breeding severe genetic problems into the line and that kind of thing.

I'd just recommend, if you are going to look on Craigslist, to browse for a few days without the intention of buying, so that you can get a feel for the legitimate rehoming ads versus the BYB ads. I browse the site quite often, and believe me, you'll quickly be able to tell the difference!

Katharine Swan said...

I'm so sorry people weren't being nice on the other blog post. At first I was confused because I hadn't seen any nasty comments, but then I realized you wouldn't have approved them, of course. I hope, even though you had to take the post down, that you'll let us know if you find out anything. There are those of us who genuinely care about you and your horses, and are hoping that Gabbrielle is okay.

Anonymous said...

Ah, you took it down? I haven't lost my marbles?

I was thinking maybe her turning under saddle difficulties are related to the other.

ms martyr said...

I missed the post concerning Gabbrielle but I too hope she is okay.
I was going to suggest Petfinders also. I have no personal experience but read a lot of happy stories about them on the Animal Rescue site.

Anonymous said...

On second thought, the giant dog would be a hoot interacting with your window peeping, eavesdropping, and trespassing neighbors. I got a real kick out of the way my theiving neighbor levitated when my watchdog popped out of the long grass and caught him where he shouldn't have been. But I'm evil like that, LOL!

Crystal said...

I had a white german shepard and she was an awesome dog, i also got her from the shelter and later found the breeder (total fluke) she never barked much except at night, but she didnt live that old, only about 8.
Good luck on a new dog.

ryde2rop3 said...

Why not check out your local Corgi Rescues.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I live in the country. No local Corgi Rescues here. No time to travel.