If you've never tried to adopt a dog from an animal rescue shelter (especially in Southern California), I dare you to try. It's not as easy as it seems. When I adopted my first dog from the Humane Society 17 years ago, it involved little more than tearfully pointing at the most pathetic looking, frightened dog in a cage, writing a check for a small fee and the cost of neutering and I was on my way. Easy.
2 years ago on a whim, my daughter and I went on Petfinder, which is a great way to find a pet that desperately needs a home. It's kind of like a "Match.com" for pets and their new potential owners. We (just for fun) entered in our zip code, the kind of animal we were "looking for" (dog), age (young) etc.... and Petfinder found us a plethora of available animals within a 75 mile perimeter. Within minutes we were introduced to "Charlie" who was available at a local animal shelter. It was love at first site (see picture below and you'll understand):
Even with his wonky, runny eyes, I knew I had to have him. We immediately called and set up an appointment to meet him. My husband was not exactly jumping for joy when I told him of my plan to adopt a new puppy, but he was helpless over my amazing willpower to get what I want.
The next morning the kids and I trekked a whopping 60 miles to meet Charlie. The over zealous animal-shelter representative made it very clear that she needed to meet with us in person and give us the 'once over' before relinquishing custody. He had just had eye surgery (hence the runny eyes) and was approximately the size of a New York City rat. The first thing she asked me when we arrived was "Where's your husband?" When I told crazy dog lady that "dad" was at work (to earn the money for the Kibbles and Bits) she looked at me blankly as if I was insane and said, "I can't adopt him to a family until I have met every member of the household. Meanwhile, my kids were on the floor having a love fest with Charlie and I knew this wouldn't be easy. Honestly, I'm pretty sure Angelina and Brad had an easier time adopting baby Zahara.
My husband works approximately 70 hours a week and getting him to make the pilgrimage to "Crazy Animal Shelter Land" (60 miles away) would be harder than getting him to go to a Spice Girls Reunion concert. I begged the lady to just talk to him on the phone, which she did, grilled him for 20 minutes, hung up and said, "I still need to meet him." Fine.
Day two: the entire family treks another 60 miles for a chance at winning the Charlie lottery. This time Tom and I sat at a table and answered approximately 2000 questions including, "Who will get the dog if you divorce?" (me); "Will you ever under any circumstances put the dog to sleep?" ("Yes, if he's dying" was apparently the wrong answer); and "What kind of food will you feed him?" (Purina dog chow?) Again, Wrong Answer. According to crazy dog lady, Charlie (a mutt who was dropped off in a box in front of the shelter) would have to be fed organic dog food ($20 for a small bag) and could never, under any circumstances be fed table scraps, which are "toxic" for his precious innards. It seemed odd that my family and I were perfectly fine after consuming our weekly Prime New York steaks, yet it was "virtual poison" for a dog. Whatever, I got wind of her game and started to give her the answers I knew she wanted to hear.
Long story short, 2 hours (and $300) later, we were the proud new adoptive family of 8 week old Charlie. He promptly urinated all over the back seat of our car. Within a week, he was off the "organic" stuff (which gave him continual, projectile diarrhea) and happily feasting on the oh-so-deadly Purina Puppy Chow. Within a few months, he was downing table scraps (carrots, hamburger and occasional steak parts) like an old pro. And guess what? Aside from a neurotic fear of balloons and large boxes (and large trucks) Charlie is completely spoiled and doing just fine.