It’s been more than a decade since I have had a dog in the house. In that time, my wife and I got married and had two great girls (age 7 and 2), and though we have talked about getting a dog, my wife, who grew up with a cat, was hesitant. To make matters more challenging, my seven year old, Elena, began to exhibit some nervousness around larger dogs when she was four years old (so much for my desire for a Great Dane). Luckily, from the moment my two year old could walk she exhibited absolute love and fearlessness around all dogs. In fact, once Ariella could talk she began to call out to every dog in our neighborhood, but she somehow transposed the “d” and “g” so she called all dogs, or deified them, by calling them “god”. At about the same time, Elena became very enthusiastic about adopting a dog, but she wanted to adopt a small dog. Think Shih Tzu, Poodle, yorkie, westie, etc. My wife became more enthusiastic once her girls and her husband all began to push for rescuing a dog.
So, about five months ago, I logged onto Petfinder and Petango and began visiting the local rescue groups. I was amazed by the sheer number of dogs and cats that need a good home. I suppose I knew intellectually that the need existed, but it’s different when you are confronted with an avalanche of pictures of these creatures looking longingly at you through the computer screen. I discovered that much like the veterinary world, the world of animal rescues is highly fragmented and each rescue has its own specific rules. Because we live in a brownstone in Philadelphia and we have little kids at home, and we as a family did not have another dog, we were immediately ruled out for certain dogs and certain rescue groups.
After a few phone calls and email exchanges I determined a few different shelters that we ought to visit. And then, in December, my daughter Elena and I visited our first shelter and my daughter Elena fell in love with a six-year-old Beagle named Tandy. Unfortunately, several other families had already submitted forms to adopt Tandy, and we left knowing that Tandy was unlikely to join our family. On the drive home Elena told me that she had decided that we should adopt an older Beagle. Elena’s thinking was that older dogs needed nice homes and would not be as “jumpy” as a puppy. I listened to my daughter and agreed.
Over the next six weeks I scoured the Internet for Beagles that needed rescuing. For a variety of reasons, a few of the beagles I had identified did not work out. More than anything else I wanted to know that we were adopting a dog from someone who loved his or her Beagle. So, I was excited when I saw a photo of Sally and found out that her foster parent Val was really dedicated to finding Sally a good home. Sally is a seven-year-old Beagle/Corgi mix (more Beagle than Corgi) who had been abandoned in West Philadelphia in 2008. She was found and brought to PAWS — Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society — a great rescue organization and no-kill shelter. PAWS paid for Sally’s grooming and veterinary care, which included treatment for heartworm, and found her a foster home through the Burlington County Animal Alliance, another terrific non-profit organization. Sally was placed with her foster mom almost two years ago and was one of five dogs taken in by Val. After a few interactions with Val by email we arranged to meet Sally at a Petsmart in New Jersey where BCAA brings dogs available for rescue every Saturday. I knew we were going to adopt Sally the minute I saw my daughter Elena pet Sally. On the way home, Elena told me that she loved Sally more than she had liked Tandy. A couple of weeks later, we went back to Petsmart so that my wife and two year old daughter Ariella could meet Sally. Ariella practically smothered Sally with kisses and Sally loved it. She kept rolling over for Ariella to give her a belly rub. Finally, two weeks later, Val brought Sally to our house for a home visit. We spent about two hours with Sally and Val and the deal was done. It’s worth saying that Val is great and is an incredibly loving and responsible foster mom. When we picked Sally up from her at Petsmart a few weeks later to take her home, Val was in tears. One of the consequences of Val’s love and Sally’s age and breed is that she is overweight. Val’s house has a large fenced in yard and while Val’s other dogs got good exercise by running in the yard, Sally liked to go outside find a nice sunny patch and lie down for a nap. We agreed with Val that we could help Sally lose some weight by getting Sally on Science Diet and getting her out for regular walks (not to mention having two little girls playing with her).
Sally has now been a member of our family for almost one month but it seems like we have had her for years. She is definitely feeling like part of the family. The other day, the girls were jumping on me and tackling me in the living room and Sally came right up and lay down right next to me as if to say, “Hey I am part of this pack and I want in on the fun.” I am happy to report that Sally has dropped more than a pound off her weight since we have had her and is becoming quite the active senior citizen. Sal Pal or Silly Sally (her two nicknames which we use depending on her behavior) has bonded with the whole family. I knew that my wife was fully in love when one morning I received two voicemails, a text, and an email asking and reminding me to call a veterinarian since Sally looked lethargic (she is fine).
All in all we feel really lucky to have adopted Sally.