The choice is ours - picking the wrong dog

I work for a shelter. Most of the time, it's a fine place to work. We are lucky in that we have a very high adoption rate, especially of dogs (unfortunately, the same does not always hold true of cats and small companion animals). We have such a demand in our area that we travel almost weekly to other areas of California to find adoptable dogs in overcrowded shelters, where the animals would most likely be euthanised.

All this is good. What occasionally is not so good is who adopts the dogs. Most people are eager and well-meaning, but that doesn't mean they are educated and sophisticated in the ways of dogs. And sometimes the matches are, well, awful. Last week, an enthusiastic woman brought her hound mix in to meet on his new companion. At first, she didn't seem particular about which dog she chose. Discouraged from several by various means, she finally fixed on a little boxer mix. So, the two dogs were taken out to meet each other. The hound was completely overwhelming to the boxer, who tried to escape. When he couldn't do that, he began to threaten. We told the woman this wasn't a good match, but she insisted that they'd get along when she got him home.

Can't we refuse the adoption? Yes, but there's a huge impact on public relations when we do that (we've been called a lot of names over the years). So, generally, we talk the people out of the dog or show them what isn't good about the match, whether it's the fact that a chihuahua doesn't like kids, or that a shepherd mix is too sensitive for a family. This woman refused to be talked out of the dog. So, we did what we had to do - we told her there was already a hold on the dog, and that'd have to wait until that hold was released before taking him.

The point of this little story is that it seems to take wisdom that many people don't have to make a match. As a good friend and colleague says, the poor animals don't have a choice - they have to live with what WE choose. Thus, it is extremely important for us humans to actually put thought into what the animal is like - whether his personality will fit ours, whether our current animals will welcome him and vice versa. Why can't these people do that? Sometimes it seems that they think they're shopping for a car or a tv. We're all drawn to certain looks, but some only see the outside of a dog, and not what's inside. I dread to think of who they would pick as a husband or wife!

It's not just the choosing of the dog. Too often (or maybe not often enough, depending on how you look at it), months later they realize that they've made a mistake. They bring the dog back, but his experiences haven't been good, and now they are part of him. They can impact his next home, and who can adopt him. And we would so much like dogs to go to their permanent home when they leave here.  Sometimes they don't bring the dog back - they give him to other people, or they stick him in the back yard, or they take him to another shelter.

Most of our adopters are wonderful , caring people.    It's just that some of them actually put some thought into what they are doing and what lives they are impacting. 

I'll let you know about the boxer mix.   There's another family interested in him, and they look just great!