Monday, April 14, 2008

Feeling Groovy

Adopting a dog is proving to be harder than getting pregnant as a 40 year old lesbian. Here in Boston people will cut you down in order to beat you to the small dog that's up for adoption. They'll run you off the road, force your car into a ditch, elbow you in the ribs.

"It's my bichon poodle mix, mine!"

I'm just trying to rescue a damn dog. Trying to avoid a puppy mill. But it's like the vitamin aisle at Whole Foods where a woman once literally shoved me out of the way to get to the wheat-free/soy-free/dairy-free/all vegan multi-vitamins: do-gooders out for bear, or dog, as the case may be.

A friend of mine used the phrase "fascist hippies" to describe a family we knew who lived in this huge rambling Victorian house in a funkadelic part of town. One was an artist, the other some kind of world-saver. Their two kids ran naked around the house, pooped in the back yard, nursed until they were seventeen. But dinners were communal damnit and if you weren't there on time or didn't take your clothes off in the hot tub you were berated.

These are the vegetarians we are up against in this dog rescue mission, well-meaning liberals in tattered old Volvos who opted out of the rat race but are still racing. Granted every day we don't find a dog is one more day without one which is fine by me.

Meanwhile, Bets has been practicing her lines for the kindergarten play which is about the cutest thing in the world. She's as excited by the prospect of being on stage in a costume as she is about walking around the house saying, "I have to practice my lines."

She's invited Faith and I of course and Lucy and Phoebe. We all went to the circus together yesterday. What is more unlikely: a man on stilts being catapulted into the air onto the shoulders of another man, or a woman and her ex-partner, her girlfriend, and all their children sharing cotton candy?

The fascist hippies would have approved. They would have insisted we embrace and then take our clothes off and jump in a hot tub. Damnit.

The dog of my dreams likely lives in Arkansas. There's a freedom train (no offense, no offense) carrying stray dogs from Arkansas to New England. Actually it's a bus. And it's our only hope. You pick a dog online from just a few questions asked of its foster family and then it's put in a crate to journey several days to New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, or New Hampshire. At each stop someone who has been trying to adopt a dog in the northeast but has not been able to because every time they get to the shelter all that's left are ferrets, rats, and pit bulls that bark loudly enough to rattle the fillings in their teeth, stand waiting, groovy leather-free leashes in hand. Dog is released and hopefully not too traumatized by its journey. Family takes dog home. And then everyone takes off their clothes and jumps into a hot tub.

Something about the whole process makes me want to eat red meat, let the water run while I brush, ask for plastic instead of paper or a reusable bag. It makes me want to drop cash at a breeder so I can bring a puppy home for my child already.

Oh but I won't.

I'll adopt a dog for crying out loud. Not because I'm a fascist hippy. But because I need a dog who is housebroken.

But I'll take the kudos. A girl's got to wrap herself in something when she's naked in a hot tub.


word to your mother(s) said...

After spending months searching for the “right” dog for our family, we adopted a five-year-old Labrador Retriever, LP, from a local craigslist posting in the pets section. Due to family illness, the previous owners were on the verge of taking her to a local shelter, but were hesitant to do so for obvious reasons. While we adopted our other animals directly from shelters, in this instance, meeting the owners was beneficial, since we were able to ask questions of the people who raised her since she was a pup and get considerable background detail (plus, all previous vet records).

I have friends who are employed at animal shelters and they disapprove of this adoption method, but it certainly worked in our particular case. During our search, we used petfinder and visited all the local shelters, but in the end, we found a perfect match via craigslist. The family didn’t want any money for LP, so we made a donation on her behalf to our local shelter. I just wanted to throw an additional resource your way…

Ms. Moon said...

Good Lord! When did getting a dog become such a moral and ethical dilemma?
We live in a strange world.
But good luck and I'm sure your daughter is going to do very well in her play. As she grows up, it will be abundantly clear to you why you remained civil to your ex. It will all have been worthwhile. As one experienced in such a situation, I can guarantee that.
Wish I could say the same about the dog.

jlloyd said...

after the delivery of our second child in two years, the nurses asked if they would see us in another two years and we joked not unless they worked at the local animal shelter b/c our third was coming from there! Having our 13 yr old dog die close to two years ago I've adjusted to life with two kids and no dog and the "freedom" that has given me, mostly around going away and not having the aditional burden that a dog can bring. Though my partner has been ready to get another dog for awile, I have not. Reading your blog today, watching some dog owners cross into the Arbs this morning and remembering that old life of mine and wondering if I can picture doing that with a with two kids in tow, and thinking about for the last two out of four years I've conceived in April, I wonder if the idea of the third is being born. It seems like we spend years trying to add things to our lives-careers, relationships, kids, responsibilities...and then years trying to uncomplicate, simplify them. How do we do both?

Are You My Mothers said...

Beautifully put.

Susan said...

Aaahhh, yes-- housebroken! We tried and tried to find a new pup online but felt strongly about needing to meet the dog first (toddler in the house). In the end we went to a breeder, just like the last time, and came home with a very young puppy. We got our daughter "housebroken" early but the puppy might be driving me out of my mind. Any illusion of sleeping in until or even reading the Sunday paper is now gone. But our new pup is the cat we've always wanted and such a joy.

Sara said...

oh, it's easy to housebreak a puppy. that's what crate training is about, and didn't you get the monks book??

seriously, having just taken in two cats to 'foster care' for... which has turned into two new cats for the house, I can only say,

You're nuts.

but, I am too, so you are in good company. I mean, three boys, two cats and one dog.

one wife, two dads for my kids...

no naked hot tubbing, though. I draw the line there.

neeeekeeee said...


We got our dog from through a similar process, when we discovered the flip side of successful spay & neuter regulations here in New England -fewer dogs in shelters! We love our dog to bits, but it's been a LONG year and a lot more work that we had ever intended (even having adopted dogs before)...our dog is still nervous about being in the car, and we think it might have to do with the 3 days she spent on a bus, in a crate, with 37 other dogs, maybe.

I know it is out of the city, but have you been to the North Shore Animal shelter? They take really good care of their dogs and you can meet them before you adopt them, which is fun.

Anyway, good luck with the puppy-hunt!

Leigh Lear said...

i just recently happened upon her blog and i just have to say it brightens my day every time i read. i love your witty banter, it's just so fun.

Valsa Lenta said...

I am Portuguese. I discovered its by chance blog that much pleased me.
I wait to come back with more time and attention.

Are You My Mothers said...

happinesses to you too. thank you for reading.

Nell said...

If you are looking for a dog or pup, you might try directly working with one of the rescue groups in the SE which pick up stray dogs/abandoned pups, put them back together and find them homes, usually in the NE. E.g., a lot of our puppies go to Precious Friends in Clarksville, TN which is a supplier of puppies to North Shore. We also send dogs/pups to 3 other groups in MA...and we do some local adoptions. I live in Hickman Co. TN (37033); visit at that zip code...and find a way to contact us directly...Good luck, and a great dog makes a great life companion!