Archive for February, 2014

WholeDog

February 14, 2014

Where have I been? For the last two months, I’ve been fixated on this little lady:

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Her picture popped up on the  SF Animal Care and Control Facebook page the day before Thanksgiving, and although I don’t put a lot of faith in gut feelings, when I saw her picture, I had a gut feeling that this was our dog.

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Mr. WholeHog and I have wanted a dog for at least a decade now. It was one of the reasons we moved to Oakland, where we soon realized that our new long commutes meant that a dog would be home alone most of the time. And it was also one of the reasons we decided to try to buy a place in SF (few SF rentals allow tenants to have dogs), but the work on our place was so overwhelming that I couldn’t imagine adding anything else to our lives at that point.

We talked more seriously about getting a dog last year, but the timing never seemed right: we were heading to be out of town; it was the middle of apple season at the farmers market; we were getting new windows installed. The right dog never seemed to be available either. There were so many chihuahuas and pit bulls and so few medium-sized lab-mixes.

But when this particular lab-mix showed up on the ACC Facebook page the day before Thanksgiving, we had no excuses: our new windows had been installed just days before; we’d recently come back from a trip to Austin; apple season was nearly over; and we were hosting Thanksgiving this year so we could go to ACC and meet this dog.

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At the shelter that morning, I expected to see a line of people waiting to see this young lab mix, but there was just one person ahead of me in line at ACC and he turned left toward the doors marked “Lost Dogs”, while I turned right toward the doors marked “Available Dogs”.

I open the first “Available Dogs” door not knowing how many dogs are behind the door or how well they’re contained. I walk down the surprisingly narrow corridor saying “Good doggies!” and hoping that the big gray pit bull at the end of the hall won’t lunge at me as I walk by (she doesn’t).

When I open the second “Available Dogs” door, the dog I’d come to see is the first dog on the left, sitting up very tall and pressing up against the gate to her pen. When I stop in front of her, she jumps up and licks my fingers through the chain links.

But I don’t have that same gut feeling that she’s our dog. She’s smaller than I’d pictured, and in the “get acquainted room” she jumps up on me incessantly. And when Mr. WholeHog shows up after work, he feels similarly.

We walk away and decide to look at the SPCA, right across the parking lot, where we meet Stetson, a larger, more classic-looking black lab. But Stetson seems uncontrollable. When the SPCA volunteer tries to put a leash around his head, the leash ends up around Stetson’s waist. And he’s too big: when he jumps up on me, his paws are on my shoulders and he looks me straight in the eyes. I go home that night with scratches on my shoulders. This is a point in the first dog’s favor.

What works against her is that there are many unknowns. After looking at so many rescue websites, I’m expecting to know more about our future dog — if she barks or chases cats or is  house-trained. But this dog was found as a stray in a local park so we can’t know if she’s house-trained or if even she’s ever been in a house before.

But in the end, I feel like it comes down to two simple factors: I think she’ll be a good dog, and I think we can give her a good home.

We go back to ACC the next morning and fill out the paperwork. When the volunteer writes “Adopted” on her pen, everyone around oohs and ahhs. The volunteer brings the dog out to be microchipped — “These are the new parents”, she tells another volunteer — and the dog sits down right between Mr. WholeHog and I, and suddenly, she feels like our dog. It feels like she’s adopted us.