My sister Karen said she could get us a dog.
“There are three labradoodles on my street. I’ll just leave my front door open and one will find its way inside.”
It was a good plan. The neighborhood was probably fifteen years old, the kids around the same age, which meant any dogs were around 8 years old. Getting a house trained, older dog was one of my husband’s requirements. His theory was the dog would be dead by the time our nine year old son went to college. Our son Shawn was the only reason we were even considering getting a dog.
“The problem is those labradoodles are probably micro-chipped so they’d locate and find them at my house,” I speculated.
Karen, a retired podiatrist was undeterred, “Nothing a scalpel couldn’t remove.”
I wanted to help Karen get the neighbors’ dogs off her lawn for good, but I knew I needed another option.
For the last couple of months my son and I have visited The Dog House which sells puppies as well as rescue dogs from a kill shelter in Tennessee. We’ve met Aspen, Bambi, Gonzo, and Happy. Shawn even volunteered to walk them during our visits. It seemed pretty easy to pick and buy a dog. No references, no home visits, just $300 and you had a dog. Of course you knew nothing about the dogs and what kind of trauma was inflicted on them at the kill shelters in Tennessee.
Then we saw Cadence at the Connecticut Humane Society, a Pitbull mix who was crate trained and four years old. She was a pretty girl whose owners were a single parent with a six year old daughter who had given her up because their new apartment didn’t allow dogs. We planned to meet Cadence on a Saturday, but she was adopted within hours and her photo deleted from the online post.
A work colleague clued me into an adoption event scheduled at a Chevrolet dealership the following weekend and we attended. There were some beautiful black labs, Frazier, Frankie, Sadie but my husband vetoed, “Too big.” There was a blind pit bull, a shaved cockapoo and a three legged dog with a wheel for one leg.
My husband started to laugh, “we are at a car dealership window shopping for a dog!”
Then we saw Gillis. He was a six month old stray mutt walking the streets of Memphis when he was scooped up and rescued. For most of his life he lived with a foster family that owned seven dogs. When we met Gillis five days ago he seemed cute, a little cautious, but eager to strut around on a leash and sniff me, my husband and son. According to his profile he liked to play and wanted a family with kids.
The foster mom wondered if Shawn was too energetic for Gillis. She didn’t like that Shawn was happy to meet Gillis, kissing him on the head as a greeting.
“Shawn can be coached,” we said, “he’ll be patient with Gillis,” we assured.
We talked about our home’s bucolic setting, apple trees, woods to hike in and how we had no dogs or any other humans other than the three of us. We submitted an application including three references, then scheduled a home visit, even bought a few pet supplies to impress the animal expert that would visit us. I even sent the adoption agency photos of Shawn with all the various dogs he had befriended in his life.
As the days droned on, my son asking me daily if I heard anything, I tried to envision Gillis’ tapping paws on our hardwood floors, taking him for walks, bathing him in the bath tub weekly because I never want to smell dog in my house. I really tried to rally around this new pet not yet bequeathed to us.
Outside my window I watched two of our neighbors’ dogs on a play date. They were like the Martha Stewart’s of dogs. Still puppies, the shiny black lab and fluffy English Setter frolicked and mocked me. They had owners that knew they wanted a dog, knew how to train them and knew how to not have their lives turned upside down with the furry, additions.
“Look at us running and leaping so nice. Look at this added quality of life we are bringing to our owners while your son salivates wishing we were his. ”
Then we got the email. Not a good fit. You will not be Gillis’ forever home. Maybe we’d be interested in Toby a dachshund/pinscher mix who likes to jump on her kids’ laps while they do their homework. I returned her email and told her Toby wasn’t a good fit.
Our son took the news in stride and we are back to scrolling through humane society websites. My husband wipes his brow and declares victory, “Aren’t you glad that dog isn’t sitting here now,” he laughed pointing to the shag carpet in our family room.
As the rescue adoption agencies like to say, “Someday you will find your forever pup,” and maybe that is true. But I can’t help but feel sorry for little Gillis. He would have soon learned he hit the jackpot with the most loving little boy.