Two weeks ago today, Otto and I brought home the big black dog with the pretty eyes who proceeded to slip out of our yard hours later. He hung around our neighborhood, evading capture, for about a week.
It has now been another week since I’ve seen him, and about five days since anyone else told me they saw him, either. The live trap we borrowed from Animal Control is languishing outside, full of every possible goody a normal dog could want—dry food, wet food, rib bones, pork cutlets, and chicken breast. (Technically we rotated through most of those. It’s not like there’s just a giant cage of MEAT out there, or anything.)
The rescue where we got him has ignored my messages and I have contacted every animal expert in the area, most of whom agree that he’s probably not going to be caught at this point. And so tomorrow we will take the trap back to Animal Control and admit defeat.
But you see, Super is gone but not forgotten. He’s still very much with us.
For me, this experience has completely changed some of my assumptions about animal ownership and the folks who work in pet rescue. Several people I know who either work with or favor purebreeds have tried to gently steer me towards picking a breed and then shelling out a couple thousand dollars to a reputable breeder to “know what I’m getting,” and while I certainly understand the advantages of that (now more than before), I’m still left in a place where I can’t see spending that kind of money to acquire a pet. And the “if you don’t have that money to spend you don’t have the money to properly raise it” argument I’m hearing is, pardon my language, bullshit. I don’t want to spend that kind of money when there are so many unwanted animals who need homes. I’m more than willing and capable of spending money on the gear we’ll need, on food, on vet bills. That’s all fine. But to purchase a show-quality dog when all we want is a family pet? It’s not for me.
All of that is in the back of my mind. In the front of my mind, however, is a newfound wonderment over other dogs.
For example: Otto and I like to pass an hour or two most evenings watching stupid things on television. It’s relaxing. But then there are these commercials where there are dogs. HAPPY dogs. WAGGY dogs who LICK people.
I will blink at the television for a while and then turn to Otto. “I… don’t understand,” I will say, tilting my head a little to try to get a better view. “That dog appears to… LIKE PEOPLE. I don’t see it chewing through the leash or running away or ANYTHING.”
Otto will pat my arm, usually, and murmur comforting noises, and remind me that someday we’ll get our dog.
“I’m pretty sure that’s a ROBOT,” I will whisper to him, eventually, having figured out what the gimmick is. “I mean, if it was a REAL DOG, surely it would’ve stolen an entire bag of Pupperoni by now.”
And then, of course, there’s the time I spend on Petfinder. As if Otto isn’t patient enough with my nighttime television confusion, I also like to send him listings for dogs that intrigue me, usually ones which are located out-of-state because I’m stupid like that.
“Look at this one,” I’ll write, along with the link. “It says she LIKES EVERYONE. They are probably lying liars. But really, I think she’s SMILING in that picture. And she’s only 16 pounds, which seems a good size if I’m just going to put her in my purse so that she can’t run away. Can we go to Florida?”
I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: My husband is a very patient man.
And lord, you are about to understand that statement at a whole new level, because Super left something behind for Otto, too. Remember the chase through the woods? After he escaped? And we went bushwhacking to try to find him?
Otto has a bitching case of poison ivy.
So, no, Super will not be forgotten. Much as we might wish he could.
So sad. And I’m really appalled that the rescue hasn’t called you back — something is really off, there.
I know many people who have gotten wonderful dogs from rescues, so don’t give up hope!
Super was a stupid name for a dog, anyway. Super Stupid. Super Scared. Super Scratchy. Super Annoying.
I don’t care what name the next dog comes with, I am calling him Average. I want a perfectly average dog – average height, average weight, average tolerance for being around people.
searching – but not settling – for Average
You’ll get your dog. A normally, average, sweet dog. And I like your style. There are some great pets to be found at the pound.
The pound is a great place to get a dog, but if you search around you’ll find people who are giving away dogs without having you pay for them – mutts who are absolutely perfect. Our oldest dog, Duke, is a mutt. We got him from a couple who was giving their puppies away to good homes. He has been the BEST DOG EVER. His father is a husky/wolf and his mom is an Australian Shepherd Collie – best dog ever. Seriously. Even people who are scared of dogs love Duke.
While looking at the pound is great, try looking in your local paper, on Craigslist, or having the kids ask around their school if they know anyone whose dog is having puppies. This way you get a great dog from puppy-hood, so that you can ensure that they’re not going to be scared of people simply because of past experiences.
And I’m so sorry about Otto’s poison ivy. I get it regularly, and I find that oral antihistimines help alot with the itching.
OK. Here’s the answer to your problems. Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue (http://www.ygrr.org). This is a rescue organization for Golden Retrievers – the breed that absolutely adores human beings. (Mine is sitting here next to my desk right now with adorable doggie eyes, begging for my french fry!)
We’ve raised five mutts. We kept four of them (the fifth one ended up with friends and was their special perfect dog). And they were all awesome dogs. It is NOT necessary to get a purebred to get a great dog, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You just have to find your special dog. He or she is out there somewhere waiting patiently with big brown (or blue even) eyes for you to love them. And then they will hide under your front porch because they love you. ;) (If you haven’t seen “Up”, you won’t get that reference…hehe!)
Poor Otto! I had my first experience with poison ivy when we moved to our new house a couple years ago and it.is.not.fun.
How about a cat? Waaaaay less maintenance but still very, very lovable!
Our local vet has a bulletin board in his office where people post notices, trying to find homes for suprise litters of puppies or kittens, or asking someone to adopt a pet they can’t care for anymore, for whatever reason. Maybe a vet or two in your area has something similar?
I’ve been perseverating(!) about Super ever since you started detailing his escapades. I keep coming back to the rescue organization — because you said the first thing you did was give him a bath and remove a million ticks. What kind of rescue group doesn’t clean up the dog and check him out before releasing him? Your local Humane Society would do more than that. Wait patiently for your next dog, and if he isn’t the most bouncy, affectionate, desperate-to-please-you conglomeration of hair and tail and tongue, take a pass.
Lord, what mileage that puppy-caper has been. I think if you *really* want Super to come back, you should adopt another dog. Don’t you know he’ll show up on your porch the very next day, docile as can be. (Okay, maybe that’s stretching it a bit, but you know what I mean.)
I’m so sorry that things didn’t work out with Super. And about Otto’s poison ivy — good grief! Good like finding your Average.
My brother-in-law swears by this…he goes camping a lot and poison ivy loves him: http://www.zanfel.com/help/productfaq.html
Our neighbor’s daughter went to camping with her family way out in the woods- CAMPING camping, and walked out to do her business but forgot TP. So she used a couple of leaves to wipe. Poison Ivy leaves.
Poor girl was miserable for quite some time.
I’m sorry about Super, and I know that you can get an awesome dog from a rescue, a breeder or from the pound/humane society whatever it is there :) Don’t give up! The RIGHT dog is waiting for you with sweet soulful eyes. You’ll know when it happens.
Both our dogs are from the animal shelter – one was a very lovable 9 year old (now 13) mutt that thinks the suns rises and sets on us – loves people and general goal in life is to sleep on the floor. The other one adopted as a 4 month old puppy (border collie) would like nothing more than to take out the entire neighborhood especially the other dogs – however will let our 2.5 year old mess with her and has only snapped once. That said according to the day camp she goes to – yes the dog – she is the best and everyone loves her. Every dog is different – just do not give up and hooray for going to a shelter or rescue.
I see pets on freecycle a fair amount now, mostly it seems to be people moving who can’t take their pet with them. You might check it out. (And who knows, maybe you’ll find something else free you can’t live without!)
My first cat (as an adult) I named Tequila, because the damn thing bit me every chance he got. I ended up returning him after he wouldn’t come out from under my bed for a week and I was hospitalized with Cat Bite Syndrome.
Keep trying, my friend.
I’m so sorry Super turned out to be NOT so Super. Please don’t give up. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rescue dog, pound dog or from a breeder, you’ll know when you see him/her.
Oh, and tell Otto I’m sorry about the poison ivy. Maybe he should see Chickie’s doctor?
Pets that bite or run away are not the norm. I’ve owned many pets (and am currently owned by cats) and none of them have ever bitten or been so afraid. Something bad happened to Super that gave him a massive mistrust of anything human. Sad that they considered him ready for adoption.
Have you tried these people? They are in … GEORGIA!! I hav followed their site for a long time, so I know they’ve been around and would probably return your calls promptly. (That’s unreal) http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/angeldogrescue.html
OH.. and for Otto’s PI – Phels Naptha Soap.. at your local grocer in the soap isle..It gets rid of the ooze, the oils from the leaves. It works.
Im meant Fels.. not Phels.. sorry
Well, good luck in your quest for the perfect pooch. And since ‘Super’ has become such a name of contention…allow me a few recommendations (since my kids are never going to build the fence so we get our dog, I have names just atrophying in my brain)
How about…Just Right (JR for short), Good Enough (GEe…)
or maybe…I should stick to kitty-cows.
I’m so sorry it didn’t work out with Super. You will find a dog that luuuuuvs you. I just know it.
And poor Otto – poison ivy is a bitch.
i’m with Walking In My Sleep…breed rescue is fabulous. i think i commented about it earlier, though, so i won’t get on that tired old soapbox about how they are unwanted but also predictable blah blah blah. good luck finding Average.
I think it’s time to abandon the older-dog idea and go for a puppy. Housebreaking and chewing shouldn’t be too bad, as you work from home, and the bonus is they’re so damn cute. Don’t choose the “spunky” one in the litter – find the calm one who still seems to exhibit some brain cell activity. It’s worked for us every time! Good luck!
I was going to suggest the same thing Lylah did — in fact, I was in our vet’s office this afternoon for a toenail trim (no haters – our big dog has giant claws that defy commercially available trimmers) and was looking at their giant billboard of pets lost, pets found, surprise litters, pets needing new homes because their people are moving and can’t take them — you name it. I think there was even a horse.
Anyway, maybe I shouldn’t recommend anything at all because if the local rescue that seems to have royally dropped the ball is the one I suggested using, I am absolutely mortified.
I think your experience with Super speaks more to the shelter than it does to you or dogs in general. Sounds like you are getting some good tips for finding the right dog for your family.
We have a wonderful dog…I hate to say it, but I would go with a puppy. We got a puppy because I wanted to KNOW how it was raised. I have little ones and I wanted to try and eliminate the possibility of a biting dog as much as possible. Our dog was 4 months old when we got her–older than I would have liked, but she’s 3 now and she’s awesome. Very, very gentle; very playful, housebroken, smiley, perfect. Keep trying, it’s worth it.
BTW–she’s a mixed breed puppy. You don’t have to spend big bucks and get a frou frou dog.
Hi, Mir. I don’t comment much, but I wanted to say I’m sorry about Super. It really isn’t your fault, though, and I know you will find the right dog for you.
I have two mutts, and neither one required me to shell out the big bucks to “know what I was getting.” I have a golden retriever/lab mix that my husband and I adopted through the humane society as a puppy and a whippet/lab mix that was free through Craigslist (also puppy). If you met them, you would think they were like those robot dogs in those commercials, but I will say, it has taken a lot of consistency, firmness, and love to shape them into the AWESOME dogs they are today. I am not suggesting that you do anything that isn’t comfortable for you, but I will say that adopting them both as puppies has really made a difference in how well they’ve blended into our family. I know it’s a lot of work those first few months, but the rewards are completely worth it. Plus, puppies are so cute! You could just eat them up. Anyway, good luck in your search. I’d be more than happy to answer any dog related questions you may have or help you look. I’m such a sucker for a furry face :)
I am so sorry about Otto!! Heal Quickly!!
I like your attitude about the rescue dogs. We have had many dogs over the years and currently have 4 – all of which are rescue dogs and only one of them is a purebred. We love them as part of our family and they are well behaved and trained.
You just got a bad rap with Super – hang in there.
Oh no, Otto! I love the comment about wanting Average. I think that’s a good goal! We’ll be starting the dog search soon, too, and I’m going to remember that.
Annette singing, “He’s a SUPER FREAK, SUPER Freaking out!”
It’s been in my head ever since the first post regarding Super. I am afraid if I had a dog named Super, I wouldn’t be able to refrain from singing that, every time I called him. Much to the dismay of my children. And probably that of the neighbors. I sing loud.
I like the name Average. Maybe you coulds pronounce it with a beginning long A and an ending long e :). Just a random thought, lol.
Delurking to tell Otto to run to the pharmacy and get ZANFEL. It’s a little pricey, but will stop the itch and clear it up better than anything else on the market. Loggers use swear by it. I have a tube I bought in 2002 and still hasn’t expired.
And I’m very sorry about your troubles with the dog. It’s too bad he didn’t know how good he could have had it!
Good luck Otto.
People give away purebred dogs as well. There are all kinds of websites devoted to purebred rescue places. That is if it really is what you want. The best dog I ever had was a Heinz 57! When it is time for you have a dog…you will discover your family pet. ;)
Ooops….forgot the “to” there! My bad.
Did that shelter catch and give you a coyote? Because Super sure doesn’t sound like a normal dog. Like many of the other commenters have said, you’re dog will come. My family has never paid for a dog and we’ve had some of the most loving, loyal, intelligent, (if sometimes bratty) dogs the world has ever seen.
My husband and I got our first dog in April from the local Animal Protective league. While this was my first dog ever, I know that I will always look for pets first at shelters. The joy that has overtaken our dog (Moe, named by his previous owners who decided his hypothyroid issues were too much) as he realized that we are His People and that our house is his home is something that I think every dog should have in their lifetime. Keep doing what you are doing Mir and you will find that dog that fits you and family’s life perfectly.
My husband got poison ivy after doing some lawn work. Now he always washes up BEFORE using the bathroom. Otto, it could be much worse.
I suggest calling a vet and getting a suggestion for another rescue organization. If there’s a local pet store nearby, ask there as well.
If there is a particular breed you’re interested in, look for their own rescue organization. We got our last dog from the Boxer rescue group and they were amazing. They foster all their animals in homes for a minimum of 4 weeks to ensure that they know what issue they have and can be sure you are well aware of what you’re getting yourself into. The more times a dog changes homes the harder it is to settle them so they want to ensure they are being placed in their forever home the first try.
I am a dedicated boxer owner, they believe they are lap dogs and I frequently end up with both in my lap when attempting to watch TV. They are a little heavy though :D. They are pretty high energy and need lots of exercise but once they’ve had it will fall asleep with their head on your feet and happily sit until your feet fall off due to lack of circulation. They’re wonderful with kids too, they seem to instinctively know who to be careful with and who to joyfully knock on their butts.
Keep looking – you’ll find the right dog. We found ours on Pet Finder and he was at the Humane Society – they said he was 2, our vet said he was 4. He is as loyal and docile and wonderful as they come. He’s mainly a shepherd-lab mix with a few other breeds in there. We’ve had him for 9 years and he has never so much as growled at anyone/thing or tried to run away. We can let him out in my parent’s unfenced yard and he won’t leave the property. We got lucky – but these dogs do exist.
And for the record, I know 3 people with purebred Goldens and while they are loyal and playful and sweet all 3 (each from different, reputable breeders) are dumb as doornails. And even though all have been through obedience training (one FOUR times – like I said, not too bright) don’t ever open a door without guarding it because outside is where the SQUIRRELS! are and all of these dogs will bolt the first chance they get.
Have you looked for Prison Dog Programs in your area? I’ve known several people who’ve had great luck with dogs from these programs.
I work at my local animal shelter and volunteer for greyhound rescue and own two retired greyhounds. As hard as it is to grasp, Super was indeed one in a million – 99.99999% of dogs are nothing like him. 80% of the dogs that we get at the shelter are brought in because their owners are moving and don’t want to bother to hunt for dog friendly apartments or the dreaded “can’t afford” and except a few very very very rare exceptions, every dog wants NOTHING more than to be petted and played with and touched by a human. I’m so sorry that your first dog experience was such a horrible one, but maybe that means you’ll be rewarded that your next dog will be the best dog that ever lived.
I’m so sorry your first pet experience was so terrible. We got our dog off of petfinder, and it worked out beautifully, so have heart. There are dogs out there who need homes who will be able to adapt to family life. Super was just too scarred to be able to wrap his mind around the concept of love. Wendie’s right – Super is such a rarity in the dog world, please don’t let it discourage you too much. You will still find the perfect puppy, and it will all be worth it.
That totally sucks. Here’s the thing though. I have the WORLD’S! MOST! FRIENDLY! DOG! And this is sad but I don’t love it. He will do anything to get petted. When ordered off the porch, he will wait a few minutes then sneak his way back up. He will then sit with his back to us, pretending to have no interest, then slowly inch his way over to the people. Once he thinks he is in, he will happily slobber over any thing that breathes, nudging and generally worrying the crap out of you until you voluntarily touch him. That would be the ultimate goal and he will actually groan with delight. My issues with Junior probably have less to do with him, though, and more to do with the fact that until yesterday, I had the perfect dog. After 15 years of companionship, I had to have my other dog put down. It was the right decision as she had been sick for some time but she had my heart and Junior needs that from someone. You will find that right dog, I’m sure. And here’s hoping that I will be able to give Junior what he so desperatly needs.
This, I have found, is the problem with trying to adopt a non-shedding dog. A non-shedding dog who loves everyone is the PERFECT PET, so of course everyone wants one, so of course they don’t wind up in rescues all that often. The labradoodles or other similar mixes who DO wind up in rescues are the ones who have serious problems.
There are a *ton* of incredibly friendly, great dogs in rescues and shelters. Our old dog was a pound puppy and she was so loving that we used to warn visitors not to pet her too much or they’d find themselves wearing her like a shawl.
What is sometimes hard is to find a beautiful, friendly rescue dog of a particular specific breed or mix, especially a popular breed mix like labradoodle (if you’re looking for pit bull mix you could have two dozen by sundown). We haven’t solved this problem yet either.
Hate to be the dissenter – but I got 2 dogs from the pound and had problems with each – wound up returning one (biter) and finding a home for another (chronic running away). I now have a shepard/husky mix that I rescued from a crappy owner (paid the guy a six pack of beer!!) and he is the best dog ever (tho will run away if given the change – but always comes home). I love mutts but I think often the mutts at the pound are high strung and hard to train – I second craigslist searching – meeting the animals owners will give you a much better feel for the animal – so will seeing the animal in a house setting instead of a pound… Good luck!
The fact that the rescue organization that you got Super from won’t call you back proves that they are not a reputable rescue organization. We got a Lab from a reputable Lab Rescue in our area and they know hoe to do it right. The director keeps all of the dogs in her house for a minimum of 2 weeks so she can personally learn all about that dogs personality, the dog then goes to foster care with one of their volunteer foster families who has gone through extensive training so more can be learned about the personality and so the foster family can train the dog. Dog can stay in the foster homes for as long as 6 months, they absolutely will not be adopted out if they are not ready. In order to adopt a dog thru their organization we had to go through an extensive application process and 2 interviews. WHen you get a dog from them, there are no secrets. They tell you every aspect of the dogs personality, good & bad. Their goal is to find these dogs a “forever home” and if they aren’t completely honest, that won’t happen. They also checked in after we adopted our dog. They are very possessive of their rescues, we actually had to sign a contract saying we would never get rid of him, if we did, we would have to give him back to them. And did I mention all of this was FREE!! They work purely on donations. We gave them a nice fat donation, of course. We have a purebred lab who we bought from a breeder and @ 10 yrs old is still trouble, she chews, she counter surfs, she is high maintenance. Our purebred lab we got from lab rescue is the best dog EVAH! This dog should star in commercials, he’s just that awesome. Rescue dogs are SPECIAL. You just need to find the right one. Getting a puppy is NOT the solution. Finding a respectable rescue and the right dog is the answer. I just feel very passionate about this. I know you have some allergy issues that make going thru a rescue org. more difficult, but don’t give up. Puppies are cute, but are still high maintenance. Lab rescue will take in the occasional Labradoodle. So keep looking for a rescue dog, pleeeeease! GOOD LUCK, your dog is out there somewhere waiting for your family!
I can’t believe the rescue hasn’t called you back. We were lucky and got our really awesome dog from a great shelter (he was in there for 3 or 4 years. YEARS. And he has none of the problems that people usually associate with shelter dogs), but my sister had problems with the shelter where she got one of her dogs. I guess some shelters assume that if the dog is no longer directly in their care, it’s not their problem anymore?
I agree with Tracy H, you just need to find the right rescue dog. You will find him/her, I know it.
Zeb was a free dog… the hair dresser gave him to me. He is a corgi – the best kind of dog ever! I’ll never ever have anything but a corgi in this house.
As someone who’s participated in a rescue group for almost 20 years, I’m appalled at the lack of response from the group you worked with. Appalled and disgusted. I’ve spent hours on the phone with new owners, fostered dogs for weeks to evaluate them and raised the ire of several families when I insisted that the dog they *wanted* was not right for their situations and steered them toward another. I’ve also driven hours to pick dogs up when it didn’t work out or when circumstances changed.
I’m so sorry for you guys.
If you still would like a dog, try asking around at local vet’s offices and visit the local shelter. I’d be happy to contact my network and ask for some personal recommendations for reputable rescues in your area.
And “non-shedding” dogs still shed…like human hair sheds, which is why they need so much clipping, brushing and grooming. And they still produce dander. My husband is really allergic to dogs, but his reaction varies with the breed. We’ve found he has no discernable reaction to labs, flat-coated retrievers or other water dogs. The oil in their coats keeps the dander from flying around, and frequent swims keeps the dander under control.
I’m so sorry that your family is dealing with this!
Sorry to hear about your dog. I always thought rescue-centres had a program of assessment for the dogs, so that they wouldn’t adopt out dogs with behavioural issues. Yours is the second story I’ve seen in under a week where clearly this didn’t happen.
I admire your stance on getting a rescue dog, too. That’s what I’ll be doing when I’m ready to have a pet.
UrbanCowgirl @ The Women’s Colony
Hey Mir, check out the Homeless Pet’s Foundation over in Atlanta. Instead of living in a pound, these dogs live with foster parents until they find real parents. We got a dog from there and she was a delight (I say was because after a day with the dog, we found out that I’m actually allergic to dogs). They might have just what you’re looking for.
I’m so sorry for all of this, Mir, and wish I could do or say something to make it better for you and your family.
I guess we’ve been lucky with dogs, so I don’t really have any stories that can relate to yours. I have one dog (we adopted her from the shelter) that is absolutely neurotic, but not in a bad way. She’s just weird. And when she runs away (frequently) she gets hot or tired or hungry and comes home.
When I was a little kid we had a terrier mix that just loved to run, and we would chase him for blocks. Later I figured out that if I just didn’t chase him he didn’t love to run at all, he would come right back.
So, ok, I’ve had a lot of weird dogs. But they were all licky.
Your dog will find you, sometime, I’m sure of it.
Don’t give up. There are plenty of dogs out there, loving and wonderful. I actually have a wonderful foster-fog now, but I am in East Texas. Too bad you’re not closer =). The lack of response (and refusal to assist) of the organization you got this dog from is indeed questionable and irresponsible. Hang in there!
PS ~ The shelters also see their fair share of dogs that were paid for so people would “know what they were getting” and also under the assumption that those dogs would have good homes since the people could afford to pay. So you are correct in calling bullshit on that one!
Hi there. Just found your blog via BlogHer. I wanted to comment because I am a new dog owner… but just barely. After having our new greyhound Luke for just five days… we came home from work to an empty house and an open back door. Gone. I felt like someone ripped my heart out. I had suffered through years of rentals that didn’t allow pets and finally owned my own home and DAMMIT I was going to have a dog! Except… he ran away from me. What did I do wrong? Well, for starters I didn’t shut the very tricky back door all of the way–as I thought I had. With my adrenaline rushing through my veins and tears ready to pour, I grabbed my phone and ran out the door to retrieve my dog–who could have been halfway to the next state by that time. (Greyhounds can run 45 mph.)
I found him. After only five minutes of looking, I saw him poking around in my neighbors garage. He seemed just as terrified as I was. I coaxed him to me, threw my arms around him and called my fiance to meet us with his leash, which I had ran out of the house without in my panic.
The moral of the story? While you will still have to worry about one slipping away, especially if you don’t have a fenced in yard, greyhounds are the sweetest dogs I have ever met. They have been deprived of love and attention for so long during their years as racers that once they find their “forever” home, they settle in quick and with much happiness. Our Luke is home for good and he’s not going anywhere. Especially since I finally learned how to lock our back door.
Oh, and for a small adoption fee… usually about $200… you get a purebreed dog with full vet history and a documented family history back into the 1800s. TALK ABOUT KNOWING WHAT YOU ARE GETTING! I don’t even know who my great great grandparents were.
Okay, that was a really longwinded first comment, but that’s what dog people do, right? Ramble on and on about the dogs we love. Good luck to you!