Me and Petfinder are BFFs right now. Except that we’re actually more like frenemies, because I spend hours with it, but really, Petfinder DRIVES ME INSANE. There don’t seem to be any sort of rules or regulations about what information people put out there about the animals. So while one listing will tell you that Riley is precisely two-and-three-quarters-years old and enjoys a nice chicken-smoked rawhide in the late afternoon after a cup of food at breakfast, a nice 47-minutes lunchtime walk (wherein he is a perfect gentleman on the leash) and an afternoon nap curled up in front of a television showing Spanish soap operas, another listing says that Sugar is a dog and she costs $200.
Add to that the fact that entering your zip code seems to have very little influence on how close to you any given listing is (Petfinder is POSITIVE I want to drive to South Carolina for a dog; I have no idea why), and you’ve got a situation where I spend a lot of time on their site, but also a lot of time muttering things that are less than complimentary.
This past weekend I found a dog that looked like a possibility, but given that it was at a rescue about 90 minutes away, I called, first. I had a lovely chat with the woman who runs the place, and after some discussion she said she had another dog whose listing wasn’t up on Petfinder yet that we might want to see. Excellent! I said we’d drive out and have a look at both of them.
Otto and I went for a nice ride in the country and eventually arrived at a house with an electric fence and a small menagerie gathered within its yard. You know a rescue is operating for the love of the animals when the owners have five dogs, themselves, and three of them are the size of small ponies. (Two Irish wolfhounds and a greyhound, all three of whom seemed convinced they were lapdogs.) The owner put her dogs inside and opened the pen with the dogs we’d come to see.
A swarm of dogs swelled towards us, and suddenly Otto and I were being mauled with kisses and scratches and other begging for loving from this tiny army. The dog we’d come to see was nice enough, but not terribly interested in us. The other dog that had been suggested wouldn’t even come near us—she was happy to play with the other dogs, but clearly in need of a LOT of rehabilitation to get to where she’ll trust people.
And all the while as we try to check out these two dogs, three smelly puppies who seemed to understand that I was allergic to them made it their mission to lick me to death or climb inside my purse, whichever came first. They were adorable. And stinky. And not the right dog.
BUT there was also this ADORABLE shih tzu mix who was a total love, and the only dog in the pack who didn’t bark AT ALL, and she would come up to one and then the other of us and wag and nudge and happily flop over as soon as you pet her, and if you stopped to pay attention to another dog she just waited patiently for a bit and finally gave another nudge and then got all happy again as soon as you paid any attention to her.
“I don’t remember seeing the listing for this one,” I said to the owner.
“That’s because she’s not available,” she said. “She’s being picked up tomorrow.”
So then I really TRIED to ignore her. I did. I pointedly focused on the other dogs. I even pet the stinky puppies. But she was always right there by my feet, wagging, looking hopeful and totally adorable.
Finally I cracked. I picked her up and cradled her like a baby in my arms, figuring this would annoy her and after a second I could put her down and she would stop bugging me. Instead she wagged, SMILED AT ME (I swear!) and licked my face. And Otto had to stop me from running for the car with her.
We left our number and asked to be called if the other adoption fell through; it didn’t and although I’m heartbroken I’m sure she’s in a great home living a wonderful life. I mean, she is, right? Surely she is.
Since then I’ve been moaning to Otto about how I met the perfect dog and she went to someone else and I’ll never find our dog and WOE, life is terrible and unfair. I’m surprised he hasn’t taken me down to the pond and drowned me by now. And inbetween mourning and rending my garments I’m all GO TEAM SHIH TZU and searching Petfinder and still hoping against hope that there’s ANOTHER perfect shih tzu out there for us.
This morning a new listing popped up for an adorable little guy over an hour away. After calling the shelter and quizzing them on him, I decided to take the 3ish hours this excursion would require and go check him out. On the phone they were all, “Oh my gosh, he’s SO CUTE, we all just love him!” and I realized he’d probably go quickly if I waited until the weekend. So off I went.
I drove. And drove. And tried not to think about The Perfect Dog Who Got Away. And drove some more. And finally got there. And they brought him out, and lo, he was totally adorable, just like they’d said. He was also NOT the shih tzu poodle mix he was listed as… he was a shih tzu something mix, but no poodle. Hmmm.
I took his leash and went and sat down with him to get acquainted. He bounded around and was happy to be handled and spent a lot of time trying to get at the kitten someone else had out, and then further back inside, a dog started to bark.
And then THIS dog started to bark.
Not even really so much bark, I suppose, as, BLEAT. If someone had crossed a goat and an airhorn and given it just a smidge of helium? That’s the sound this dog made.
Over. And over. And over again.
“Wow, he’s kind of mouthy,” I said to one of the workers there.
“Yeah, he’s always got something to say!” he replied, cheerfully.
“YAP YAP YAP YAP ROWR YAP ROWR ROWR YIP YIP YAP!!” said the dog.
But at least he was straining to get off the leash and foaming at the mouth, while he did it.
I thanked the staff for their time after about ten minutes; in that time, he didn’t calm down at all, and the constant yapping had me wanting to stick a fork in my eardrum. I bid the pup goodbye and got back in my car and drove home.
It’s a process; I can’t think of it as three hours wasted, but as three hours closer to finding our dog.
But the next time I go on such a journey, I’m bringing earplugs. And Excedrin.