Saturday, October 27, 2012


It was completely and totally an accident. My first dog as an adult was the perfect dog for me, or really, for anyone. Adding a new dog or cat, puppy or kitten, is a major step for any family. Finding exactly the right new feline or canine companion for you can take some work. A million questions begin to run through your mind: breed, age, gender, activity level, personality, background, and more and more. Many people don’t even consider rescue, they just immediately seek out a breeder. It is too bad that people don’t realize that rescues like Planned Pethood can provide the ideal partner for almost everyone. I always tell people, if you don’t see the right dog on the website today, wait a couple of weeks and your lifelong mate will show up.

I was a clueless rookie when I rescued my first dog, Lucy, a stunningly beautiful five year old yellow lab. The only factor I considered was getting her out of the hellhole she was calling home. She belonged to a very troubled family who lived next door to my sister. She was kept in a confined area with absolutely no shelter in the snow or blistering heat. She was given water only sporadically. It is very cruel to isolate any dog but Lu was the most social dog I have ever met and this was tantamount to torture. My sister, Janet, used to go to the vet to get meds and treat her nasty ear infections over the fence. Thankfully for Lucy, the whole neighborhood took her under their wing. After way too long of an awful existence, we finally convinced the owners to surrender her to us. The man actually had the nerve to ask me to pay him $500 because that was what he paid the breeder. If I spent $500 on anything, even an inanimate object, I would at least take care of it.

So overnight I was a proud dog owner. Luckily for me, Lucy trained me. Our first order of business was to introduce the new dog to the cats and life in a house. I needn’t have worried. The first time Lucy entered the house and spied the cats, she dropped down and did a belly crawl over to meet them on their level. It was the damnedest thing I had ever seen. Her previous landlord told me she did not like to be in the house. He couldn’t have been more wrong. From day one, she slept in bed with me and made herself at home. She was a true ambassadog. She loved every living creature she ever met. Too bad they don’t hire dogs as greeters at Meijer, she would have fit the bill.

Rescue is in my blood so it wasn’t long before a tiny kitten arrived. Lucille was never spayed until she came to me but she, by some miracle, never had pups. But she became a mom to little Joan. She snuggled, cleaned, and nurtured her. They were inseparable until the day Lu died. Lucy greeted me every day at the door with a toy in her mouth and a tail wagging so hard it could clear a table in one sweep. When she became ill, and we had to let Lucy Lu go, it ripped my heart out. No one could ever replace this perfect dog.

Now let’s examine the other side of the coin, adopting the exact wrong dog. A dear friend and colleague went the shelter route to find her new companion. Ruth is a school librarian who was on the verge of retirement. We affectionately call her Ruthless, all 4’8” of her. She was searching for a small dog who would fit into her condo lifestyle in which fences are forbidden. She ended up adopting a puppy who is a hunting breed, probably a pointer. Ruth was going to name her “Friend” but cooler heads prevailed and the puppy became Rosie. I told Ruth her neighbors would think she had become a Quaker hearing her hollering, "Friend, Friend" out her back door. This baby whirlwind of terror was THE most hyperactive youngster I have ever seen.

There are a million Ruth and Rosie stories. One day Ruth came to work and looked like she was a victim of severe domestic abuse. Her eyes were blackened and she had scrapes and scratches all over. Rosie had pulled her over while on a walk. To Ruth’s credit, she never gave up on her unruly pup. As a matter of fact, the wild child had to repeat her obedience classes (to raise her GPA according to Ruthless). The two R’s are still a happy couple. After discovering Doggie Daycare and a loving dog walker, Miss Rosalita is a happy, healthy 60 pounder hanging out on the condo scene with the senior citizens and their miniature pets.

If you are searching for your perfect pet, Planned Pethood does a super job supplying all the pertinent information a prospective adopter needs. The beauty of the program allows the foster families to get to know the dog or cat in a home setting including the good, the bad, and the ugly. You will know in advance if they are housebroken, good with other dogs and cats and kids, their activity level, and so many other factors. Plus they are all spayed and neutered, vaccinated and in proper good health.

A few people complain about the process being too cumbersome including a lengthy application, a vet check, and a home visit. The organization tries to do everything possible to make your match perfect. Even with all of this, pets do get returned for a variety of reasons. However, not to fear for their safety, any dog or cat goes back into foster care until they can be adopted again. Finally, if Ruth decides she wants to find a companion for Rosie, she has promised me that she will begin her search with Planned Pethood and will use me as her guide.

--Judy S