Thursday, May 19, 2016

Meet Colin Farrell!

Okay, MOST of the time he is Colin, he's really only called Colin Farrell when he misbehaves. I've already had to say, "Colin Farrell, get your nose out of that girl's crotch!" a message now both the two-legged and four-legged versions have had to hear.

I love my new dog but I will admit this has not been an easy journey. Now doing a 360 review of my experience I'm going to write this so that others may have an easier time when they're ready to adopt a pet.

Research
Everyone should know what dog will fit their activities best. There are advantages to puppies and there are advantages to older dogs. Different breeds have different needs as far as needing mental challenges, jobs, and exercise.

I knew from Michelley that I love the intelligence, sweetness, and quirkiness of the Sheltie so I felt secure there. My only caveat was that I didn't want to get a sable that looked like her. I should have also been more specific that I want to train this dog for herding and therapy work. It takes different mindsets and being specific can help match the right dog for you. Colin will be great at these but it was a leap of faith.

Rescue Dogs
This is the first place I went. People with full-breed dogs get shamed all the time from owners with lovable mutts. The first thing they ask is if you would adopt a pound puppy. I love all animals but I don't feel like I need to justify liking a certain breed.

I did try to adopt rescue Shelties. The process is ridiculous and defeating. "Are you home 100% of the time?" they ask. "No, I telework once or twice a week and go into the office three days." "Mmm, no, you can't have this dog. "Are there dogs in your neighborhood?" they ask on another. "Yes! It's a very dog-friendly area." "Mmm, no, this dog doesn't like dogs. Sigh.

AKC Breeder of Merit
I thought this was a HUGE deal. I know I like Shelties so okay, I'm going to look at AKC Breeders of Merit. Sounds like this means something right? No, it means the breeder paid for that certificate. According to an interview on the Today show, AKC has only 9 inspectors of kennels and no idea how many AKC registered breeders there are. So how are the standards ensured?

I only know this now because I really delved into what it meant. I was surprised at allowable practices. For instance, my dog came from one of these. But she never told me that his bark was softened, a controversial procedure where they puncture the vocal chords, he had worms and was severely underweight, and didn't have some of his shots. Had I known ANY of this I wouldn't have adopted a dog from her. I don't want to encourage her business.

Visit the Kennel
Yes, if they discourage you write them off right away. I looked at another place and it was a six-hour drive so I google earthed it. Terrible conditions, no open space for the dogs to run around, and backed up next to train tracks. Um, no.

What I should have done is visited the kennel in PA where Colin came from. Because when she brought him down he was terrified of me and all people. By then I had committed to this dog. Yes, that's on me and it took several hours for him to come up to me. Let's just say the first few days were not necessarily happy ones. Once I got past the fact that I was not adopting a well-adjusted dog but instead rescuing and rehabilitating a dog full of fear of the world, well I was committed. Now every day is a little happier because one day he wags his tail, another day he allows a neighbor to approach him, and yet another he plays with abandon.

So although this experience was not what I first anticipated, it certainly is rewarding. I view Colin as my little rescue dog which he certainly is. Regardless of where he came from his life is now one where someone truly loves him for who he is and will work to give him the best life possible. I trust that God has a reason for bringing us together and I look forward to a lifetime of adventures with my little Swiss bear.