I’ve been searching for a new dog since before Christmas, without success and some painful disappointments. At first it was too hard to look. I was going to go to a shelter with a friend and got sick at the last minute. Eventually I became more able to take on the task. I bookmarked nearby shelters and the Pet search engines: Petfinder and Adopt-a-pet. I applied for more than one dog and was told they already had many applications. I asked about a dog on a poodle rescue site in Massachusetts, and they said they didn’t adopt outside their area because they need to do a home visit.
About three weeks ago I checked Adoptapet and there were no dogs that fit my criteria (female, small, 3-10 years old) within 100 miles. That really cast me down. The pet search sites offer a service: you can save your search criteria and they will let you know when a dog comes in, so I did that on both of them. The first dog that came in I wasn’t interested in.
A week ago Tuesday (April 14) my friend Eve came for the day. I was really glad she came because I didn’t see Erica that Tuesday. She was determined to find me a dog. I showed her how to look on my computer. We looked at lots of dogs (most of them are big and male) and finally I got overwhelmed and backed off. She kept going, bless her, and found a dog, in northern Vermont, that looked like a possible. She was a Shih Tzu mix, something I had tried to find. I looked at the pictures and she certainly looked worth investigating. Eve said “Let’s call them now.” I panicked, so she dialed the phone and got them on the line. After a few sentences she said “It’s really for my friend,” and handed the phone to me. It turned out that they had only had her for four days. She was in Orleans VT, which was about 25 minutes from Hardwick VT, where I was going to see my dentist on Friday. So I made an appointment to see her Friday afternoon. Her name was Falicia.
The next time I checked my email there was one from Adoptapet with a picture of Falicia. Guess the universe was determined I should get her.
The shelter didn’t have an online application. I had first thought I’d just wait til Friday and fill it out there. I would have to wait two days after the application was filed before I could take her away. Then I emailed them to send me a PDF. I printed it out and filled it out, and was going to take it with me on Friday. Wednesday morning, I couldn’t wait, so I went to Pam’s and faxed it. She runs a doggy day care center as well as the Franconia Business Connection.
On Friday I barely felt the cleaning at the dentist. Driving to Orleans I smiled all the way, with occasional jabs of fear that I wouldn’t “pass” their application. The first thing I asked was about the application and they said it was fine, I was acceptable. They put me in a room, and brought her to me. She backed away from me and shivered. They gave me the leash that was attached to her harness, and she wiggled out of her harness and ran to her handler. I asked them to leave me alone with her so they did. Again she slipped out of her harness. I ran her into a corner and sat down to block her in. Then I decided to play Alpha dog and put my hand on her back. She fairly quickly calmed down. I asked if I could take her that day and they said yes. I didn’t know whether to be delighted or terrified. I got her papers, paid the fee, and we went out to my car.
I opened the door and she jumped right in. As I drove home, she kept trying to climb in my lap, and I would push her back. Because we were on the highway, in cruise control, I wasn’t so worried that she would interfere with my driving. I finally let her stay on my lap and put my hand on her for a while. Then I dumped her back on the passenger seat where she stayed. I didn’t think she was a “Falicia” so I called her “Petunia.” She’ll probably acquire a number of names.
It hasn’t taken very long — I’ve had her a week and a day — for her to become very comfortable on the couch next to me. She follows me everywhere, except now she’s started to trust that I’ll come back, so when I get up to make tea she stays on the couch.
What’s been a huge surprise is how quickly I fell in love with her, and how happy I’ve been. It makes a huge difference having a being constantly around who I love, and who is at least attached to me — I’m not quite ready to accept that she loves me, but being a dog, she probably does.