Monday, January 3, 2011

The Stresses of Adoption Day

Adoption Day is exciting, disappointing, educational, and stressful all at the same time.

Every Saturday, we spend 5 hours at the local Petco with the rescue group. It’s a chance for potential adopters to meet the animals, plus it allows the organization the opportunity to spread information about the humane treatment of animals. It’s so important.

But it’s also stressful. Consider the stressors on the animals. Let’s use dear Jack as an example:

“Oh, car. You want me to get in the car? I barfed in there once, and I don’t want to have to do it again.  Oh well, let’s give it another try. ::hop:: Yeah, yeah. I’m okay back here, Foster Mom. Stop asking if I barfed. Just keep your eyes on the road.

Hey, I remember this place. It’s where the pets go! Huh? Doh! That sliding door gets me every time. So many smells in here. ::sniff, sniff:: Dogs, cats, ferrets, birds, rawhides… RAWHIDES!

Oooh, people are walking through that sliding door. Come pet me, pick me, love me! Oooh, now dogs are coming to sniff me ::ruff, ruff::, little girls are coming to strangle me, and little boys are pulling my ears. Help! Okay, I’m tired. I need some peace and quiet. Can we get back in the car yet, Foster Mom?”

It’s equally as stressful on us humans, too.

First thing in the morning, we pack up Jack’s things that the rescue has given us for him. This must be how contenders on reality TV feel when they have to pack their belongings on the chance they’ll get voted off the proverbial island. On the whim that he gets adopted out that day, I always want to make sure he’ll everything he needs.

[SIDEBAR: These same-day adoptions only happen in rare and special circumstances. Usually, over teh course of several days, references have to be checked and a home visit has to be made. But I pack his bag just in case because of what happened when Wookiee was unexpectedly adopted out that fateful day.]

It’s obviously not just the physical act of packing that’s stressful. It’s not knowing whether or not this animal, who has become engrained in your family and in your life, will be coming home with you in a few hours. 

Once we’re there, it’s always great to see the other dogs. Jack is VERY excited to see them too and tends to bark for their attention [constantly], so we try to keep a reasonable distance.

Then, of course, there are the people who walk through the sliding doors. I always look in anticipation, not knowing if Jack’s family may be walking right on through. Of course, Jack wants to greet each and every one of them personally.  (My back is still aching as a result.) After we’ve spent weeks trying to teach him not to jump, he jumps into the arms of these people, who praise it thinking it’s the cutest thing ever. Granted, it is cute. It’s just not cute when he does it 24/7.

As people approach, we field questions about Jack. Our answers, in order of frequency from greatest to least:
1) He’s a border-collie mix.
2) He’s about 3-4 years old. 
3) He’s neutered.
4) He’s basically housetrained, but he has marked new places on occasion.
5) Yes, he would have otherwise been put to sleep. Yes, a perfectly good dog like him.
6) Yes, he’s been here the past few weeks. No, he didn’t get adopted yet.
7) No, he won’t bite you.
8) Yes, he needs a lot of exercise. He loves playing. He would love agility training.
9) How much does he cost? There's no price tag you could really put on this pooch. The rescue has an adoption fee, which is a tax-deductible donation. It covers his transport, spaying, other medical needs, food, and so on.
10) An application? Huh? You might want to fill out an application for him? Right over here. Oh, you want the puppies instead? Oh, okay—right over there. Thank you for adopting.

For a month now, we’ve left adoption day through the sliding dogs with Jack in tow. We usually come home—all 3 of us—and pass out. The very secret and selfish part of me (you know, the part that shares all of my thoughts with you here) is happy because I know I have another week with this amazing creature. The other part is very disappointed that no one saw what a beautiful animal he is.

It’s a slow time for adoptions now, as people come off the holidays and the deep cold sets in. But we’ll pack our bags again next Saturday and get ready for whatever surprises those sliding doors might bring for all of us. 

1 comment:

  1. Adoptions are always a little stressful... I agree.

    One rescue I worked with did adoption days at Petco, and they were actually way stressful.
    At the time I was fostering a 70lb powerhouse of a pit bull mix. Who wanted to jump on everyone. And maybe mouth them. While he growled with glee.
    Kids everywhere... small dogs... big dogs... oy vey.

    Best of luck finding Jack's perfect forever home. Like our foster Lexi, I just hope we find someone who sees what we see in these amazing dogs. :)