What to Expect When You’re Expecting… To Adopt… A Dog

You may have heard or seen through the social media that I adopted a dog. Her name is Charlie and she’s a 2-year-old Chihuahua-Jack Russell (I think) mix. She’s a spunky little thing. And super small. Like 10 pounds small. My heart has expanded more than I anticipated since she arrived to my apartment on a chilly December 20 afternoon.

Deciding to adopt didn’t happen overnight. It’s taken me some time to get over Winston. I still get kind of bummed out when I see little dachshunds bouncing down the sidewalk; their little legs hustling to keep up with their humans.

When Winston was here, he filled my apartment with warmth and energy and joy. As you can imagine, living alone has its serious benefits (especially in a city where you constantly have to fight for personal space), but it’s oftentimes quiet and lonely. And coming home to an empty apartment all of the time starts to weigh heavily on the heart and the soul.

So over the summer I started to seriously consider adopting. I searched for local rescues and began to poke around Petfinder for adoptable dogs. I thought I wanted a medium-sized dog, so I went into the search with that mindset.

It wasn’t until October when I found a dog that interested me. Here’s the thing that I quickly learned: Do not get your heart set on the first dog that you see. This can’t possibly be true in all cases, but I’m speaking very particularly about my experience.

The application process, at least in NYC, is lengthy. And a lot of the local rescues operate via generous volunteers. Many don’t even have brick-and-mortar locations. I chose to submit via Second Chance Rescue and Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue. After submitting my applications, I anxiously awaited any kind of response that would indicate the process was moving forward.

There were email exchanges, reference checks, former veterinarian checks, at-home visits and more email exchanges. I attended adoption meet-and-greet events. And there was a lot of daily Petfinder stalking, because at this point the dogs that I was most interested in had already found forever homes (hooray!).

I communicated regularly with matchmakers who were helping to find the perfect pup for me. But I mostly ended up doing all of searching. In a 2-month period, I had inquired about six different dogs. I started to lose a little bit of hope and decided to search less frequently.

And that’s when I saw the random Facebook post: Mimi and her two puppies. Mimi was black and white. She had the biggest ears in her photos. I knew absolutely nothing about the breed (still don’t), but I reached out to my matchmaker via Second Chance for Mimi’s status.

Fast-forward to December. I spoke with Mimi’s foster mom in Rochester, who didn’t hesitate to tell me that Mimi was one of the best dogs she’s ever fostered. If there’s one thing I also learned, fosters were sincerely honest when describing a dog’s traits. And everyone went out of their way to ensure the matches were nearly perfect for every situation and person.

Mimi has been since named Charlie. And Charlie has finally started to settle into her new environment. It’s taken time. And I’ve second-guessed my decision a few times. She’s finally warming up to strangers and showing her confident side. We’re still working on her reactions toward other dogs. She sheds like crazy (time to trade in my all-black wardrobe for white?), knows how to play fetch and does this little jumpy-twirly trick. She’s even learned how to escape her crate! (Should have named her Houdini.) But I feel like a proud momma when I say she’s come a long way in almost 4 weeks.

Charlie is currently curled up on my lap sleeping as I type this, and life couldn’t be more perfect. And by the way, both of Charlie’s pups were also adopted. How’s that for hap-pawily ever after?

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