I’d intended to back-burner the search for a second dog as I tackle other issues in life. But I couldn’t resist. I found a potential candidate in a high-kill pound of a huge city. Unfortunately, the staff were too “overwhelmed” to answer the phone and field questions about individual dogs.
There are several city operated facilities and all insist potential adopters actually drive to their locations. They claim people have driven from as far as Canada. Phone calls elicit automated menus. Emails elicit automatic responses and, if you’re profoundly lucky, an impersonal email reiterates the party line.
Yesterday, I drove 400+ miles to ask questions about a hapless pooch who was temporarily given a stay of execution because of my interest. That’s like traveling hours to see if a car dealer has the vehicle in silver… because the dealership is “overwhelmed.” Prefacing the trip required involving a third party rescue, drumming up multiple references, phone calls literally from coast to coast, submitting a training plan to the city to explain how I was prepared to address the dog’s aggression issues, scheduling an operation at my vet’s office to address the serious injury this dog was suffering from, and prepping for a 2+ week quarantine in my basement. The potential quarantine also involved changing the lock on my basement door.
Mind you, all these hoops were just to ask a few simple questions.
To fulfill the requirements, I spent all morning on the phone and emailing. At 13:45 I was in the car. My trunk held various muzzles, chains of all length, a breaking stick, multiple bull snaps, various ultra duty collars and choke chains. The 3+ hour drive to the city was so daunting I’d never driven there. I was told by the third party rescue there might be parking for me, as I was picking up a dog. “Looking at a dog,” I corrected.
Using GPS, I arrived at the facility at 17:35. I pulled into a loading zone and called the rescue-provided contact person inside. She had all wit and charm of a registry of motor vehicle staff. It was clear from her tone of voice that she couldn’t care less who I was and when I asked for assistance parking in this totally unfamiliar city comprised almost entirely of one-way streets, she essentially told me, “You’ll have to figure it out, I don’t drive.”
I came close to leaving right then and there.
But I’d come this far, and it was for the dog, right? So I found a spot with less effort than expected. Inside the facility no one knew who I was and thanks to in-house lack of communication, incompetence and utter uninterest, they shuttled me back and forth between floors and desks. Finally, they connected the dots and I had to wait for the charming princess I’d spoken to on the phone.
She appeared complete with her schizoid affect. “Oh, your here to pick up the dog,” she said. I kept my mouth shut but really wanted to say, “No I’m here to ask questions and see the dog ’cause you lazy fuckin’ assholes are so fuckin’ overburdened you can’t pickup the fuckin’ phone to talk for two minutes to a prospective adopter, you fuck.”
She told me to follow her and I asked who might provide more information about the dog. She answered that I needed to refer questions to the third party rescue. This was the same rescue woman who’d told me she hadn’t actually been to the pound in quite some time.
Beyond double doors, I had to remain while my “adoption counselor” went behind a steel door down another hall. I waited. After some time she reappeared and said she needed help from an “animal officer.” Her recruit was a aged and frail Hispanic woman, their challenge: leash a purported 72 pound, highly aggressive, Chow/shepherd mix. As I waited for this “crocodile hunter team” to round up their charge, I captured the barely concealed rage on my face. The hallway behind me is the end of the line for countless dogs, in this era mostly pit bulls.I waited. After some time the door began to open. I stepped back expecting a lunging, snapping, saliva spraying, 70 pound, black juggernaut. When you handle an aggressive pooch, you grab the leash down by the collar, or the collar itself, right? Better yet, use a snare pole. You can see them on the wall behind my head. She held her hand three to four feet up the leash with her hand above the level of her shoulders. Maybe she was afraid the dog would spin and bite her arm?
And there he was… a generously over-weight dog whose frame would ideally support 45, maybe 50 pounds. Not a drop of shepherd blood, I’d venture. He looked at me, showed no emotion, and I did likewise. By now three or four staff had congregated and my dearest princess said, “We can take you to our enclosed outdoor area so you can interact with him.”
Cold weather camp dog? Protection dog? I think not. Ty at, 42 pounds, was a potentially far tougher deterrent. “Nah,” I said, “You can put him back. He’s not the dog I’m looking for.”
They all looked at each other. Speechless. Clearly they’d never seen anyone react the way I had. My quick assessment stupefied them much as their coldness, apathy and vacant work ethic had stupefied me.
Princess disappeared with the dog and I went to another desk to ask about the 122 pound Rottweiler who’d been my Plan B. “He had pneumonia and was moved to another facility,” I was told. I then walked three short hallways to see who else might be available. Having seen the dogs online, I knew chances were slim unless there’d been an owner surrender that afternoon.
It was heart breaking to see all those sweet pitties with one foot in the grave. Me, a pit bull rescue person! But despite the wooing look I received from a particular 35 pound female that almost made me succumb, I knew I had to stick to my principles. ‘Cause once I find our new family member, it’s likely she or he too will be heavily courted by the Reaper.
I spoke with a young man who’d initially been dismissive of me. Putting on the Heroes ‘N Pirates charm, I probed for sympatico spirit, an inside connection at the facility, someone I might in the future call personally. He did soften a bit but stopped far short of recognizing me as a potential resource. When he heard what I was looking for, he said, “This is the city, we don’t get dogs like that.”
My waiting car was, thankfully, not yet smashed, stripped and burned. (The two only other times I’d been to this city, I’d been the tangential victim of crime. First, my father had professional equipment stolen, the next time my brother’s car was stolen. It was later found stripped and was crushed by the sanitation department.) Why people would choose to live here is beyond me. Then began the ninety minute pleasure of bumper to bumper followed by a three hour drive.
Back home at 22:23, I stripped in the dark driveway, placed my clothes in a plastic bag and hustled past Mak to put potentially infected clothes and sneakers in the washing machine.
As I prepared my first meal of the day, I called a dog friend and vented about the current state of dogs in the U.S. She listened, sympathized, laughed, suggested and concurred – all the things good friends do! 🙂
Mak’s day took a sudden turn for the better as I loosened his Elizabethan collar, stuffed him with BBQ chicken scraps and let him lick the grill tongs. Even an aggravating day can end with a smile.
Would I do it all again for another dog? In an instant!