Thursday, April 5, 2012

The trouble with the dog adoption process

Our last photo of Jake.
Last summer, our dog Jake passed away. My husband and I adopted Jake from the Redlands Animal Shelter back before we had kids; he was our first baby and an amazing dog with an old soul. Our neighbors always referred to him as "the gentleman." He was in bad shape when we adopted him--covered in sores from head to toe and so matted that they thought he was a terrier. After a major grooming, we discovered he was a Lhasa Apso who had suffered at least two broken legs that were never tended too.

We adopted Jake knowing that he was an "older" dog whose paper work said he was 6+ years. In doggy adoption language, I'm guessing he was more like 8 or ten years old. It is often difficult for shelters to find homes for older dogs and figured they were a bit "generous" on his age.

In the last year of his life, Jake went down hill fast. He could no longer jump up on the couch so that he could watch for us out the front window. He developed severed doggy dementia and slept most days and nights. It was heartbreaking to put him down; we made and canceled the appointment more times than I can count. We kept holding on for hope that he would improve. He was our companion for ten year. TEN years! When we put him down, the vet was so wonderful and really helped us through the worst moments a pet owner has to endure. He reassured us that if we had not adopted Jake that day, it was pretty unlikely that anyone would have because of his age and the fact that we had him for ten years shows that we are wonderful pet owners.

It's been hard getting over the passing of my beloved pooch, but now that it has been about nine months, I think I may be ready to adopt another dog. I know I can't fill Jake's void, but I do feel that the next dog has some big paws to fill. This time we have three little boys to think about. We know we want another dog like Jake that sheds very little or not at all. I know that with small children, a puppy is not our speed and that we want a dog that is at least 2 years old and has already been housebroken. And of course, the dog has to love kids. These are things that can be tough to find at a shelter and thus we are turning to rescue groups for our search--like those found on

Because we adopted our last dog from the shelter, we simply paid the fee and bailed him out. The rescue group route is a whole new ball game for us. I am completely blown away by the processes adopters have to go through. As a life-long dog owner, I feel like I have a lot to offer a dog and that adoption agencies should be beating down MY door! Instead, there's a lengthy application process, home visits, contracts, etc. It's enough to make a gal crazy. I know these folks are passionate about what they do, which I respect and appreciate. Without their hard work, thousands of dogs would be destroyed each year. I also respect the fees they charge and will happily pay up, as I know they have many expenses in rescuing animals.

I do feel, however, it would be great if there was a way for me to fill out a little application online somewhere and tell my doggy story and let the shelters and rescue groups read it and let me know what they have. I'm not being lazy--perhaps just practical. If the rescue groups are so set on finding homes for their dogs, please consider making it a little easier and a little less crazy. Take into consideration who a family is and realize we don't have hours on end to fill out adoption applications. Oh, and when it comes to my kids, they are wonderful with animals. I am mystified by the rescue organizations who refuse to ever adopt out to families with children. How do they ever expect parents to raise the next generation of animal adoption advocates if they won't allow families to adopt?!

I am committed to only adopting animals and would never purchase a puppy, but for heaven's sake, it sure would be nice if there was an easier way to go about it!