So you want a dog, do you?

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I’ve written recently about interviewing and being interviewed, in connection with a job but the most tortuous interview process I’ve been through involved our first toe-dipping into the world of dog re-homing.

The Le Pard home, circa 2002 comprised four humans of various sizes, sexes and sophistications, two cats, two tortoises, the last survivors of a tropical fish experiment and a dozen whistling cockroaches. In considering the decision making structure that existed back then, you need to know the following: the cats refused to join in any discussions, reasoning that as the superior species they would do what they damn well liked; the tortoises were indifferent to anything beyond cucumber and making bids for freedom; in all honesty the fish never stayed still long enough to count their votes; and the cockroaches had been disenfranchised after escaping one Saturday and taking up residence in the airing cupboard.

That left the four of us, vieing for supremacy in issues of the day. A tense equilibrium had been maintained for a while but about this time the Balance of Power began to shift. The Lawyer and the Vet, respectively 12 and 9, had started to realise that The Sibling Wars were in fact a sideshow to the main event namely Home Domination and they were both failing in their aims. So a new force arose in the land: a dangerous cadre called Team Sibling, their antipathy and rivalries being buried in their need to thwart He Who Would Like To Be Obeyed and the then centre of all power: the Matritatorship herself.

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And the first real test of Team Sibling’s growing subversion was the Dog Paradox.

On the one hand both she and me had enjoyed pet dogs as children and understood Proposition Canine when it was presented to us. On the other we were well aware that (a) promises to help, eg with walking Β were illusory unless dog walking happened to be trending that day and (b) Team Sibling were now of an age where we could go away more easily so having the responsibility for a dog would instantly curtail those hopes.

HWWLTBO gave in first. It was too easy really: I would be at the legal coal face for hours everyday and they understood how to guilt trip an absent adult with the same surgical precision as our cats eviscerate mice – plus I was a sucker for the idea of dog walking as a weekend treat.

Only the Boss was left unconvinced and even someone as redoubtable as the Textiliste couldn’t survive for long. Finally the thick walls of common sense that had been maintained by the distaff side crumbled and fell.

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Sometimes, when a fight has been hard fought but eventually successful you assume the next phase will be a doddle, or in this case a doggle. We all agreed on what we wanted:

  • It had to be a rescue dog
  • It had to be neutered
  • It had to enjoy walks
  • No handbag dog but also nothing that could pass as a horse in the dark with the light behind it
  • It had to get on with the cats

Battersea Dogs Home is well known and calls out for people to take on unwanted dogs and cats. It is also a couple of miles from our front door. So one weekend, a Sunday I think we set off in high hopes that that evening we would return with our new family member.

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On entering we booked a time to see a re-homer and set off up the sloping entrance to visit some of the dogs. It’s tough this bit. So many brown eyes and intelligent faces follow you on your journey. If, like me, you are utterly soft you have earmarked some fifty candidates by the time you reached the desk to meet a smiling assistant. The others had a few ideas but we were told there were a lot more not in the visitors’ areas (for a variety of reasons) which we could view online and if we liked them we could meet them. But first, some admin.

You expect details to be taken, don’t you? And we had it all planned. We were rather smug. We would tell them all about our wants and needs, they’d tap everything into the computer and we could start choosing. That’s when the questions started.

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‘How much walking can you do?’

‘How big is you garden?’

‘How high the fences, gates etc?’

‘How long will he/she be left at any one time?’

‘What about holidays?’

And on. All of them were really about the dog’s want and needs not ours. We began to realise we were approaching this for entirely the wrong perspective. It’s not about us, stupids, it’s about the dog.

Eventually forms were filled and logged. Can we choose now? We’re getting peckish.

It didn’t happen. In total, this process took four interviews spread over two weeks. They needed to see us, us and the children, the house and garden and for Β us to meet the size of dog we said we wanted to make sure it was right for us. Then and only then could we meet possible candidates.

Eventually a dog was identified but first he needed to pass the ‘cat test’. Which comprised a cat being brought into the room where we all waited, taken out of its basket and put on the floor. The cat in question wasn’t happy. He had an expression somewhere between my gran sucking a lemon without her false teeth in and Donald Trump on being told the wasp he’s just swallowed is actually Mexican. Or Muslim. Or both. If the dog ignored the cat, bingo.

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We held our breath. The dog looked up, registered this tight packed piece of fur with attitude and turned away.

He’d passed. In truth, that was rather misleading since he hated our cats and they just about tolerated him but thank heavens he passed.

Blitzen, our German shepherd-lurcher-heaven-knows-what cross had melted our willing, if rather exhausted, hearts. He stayed with us for 10 years until one evening he keeled over on the hall carpet, a heart weakness having taken him prematurely. I did try mouth to mouth but even accepting there was a major flaw in the geometry of what I was attempting there was no bringing him back.

We had some great times; the ancestral greyhound in his gene pool driving him to run in circles but the German shepherd torso meaning he regularly fell over. A steam punk of a dog really. That need to twist had him rip his ligaments from his back leg before an MRI scan and pioneering surgery got him back up and running.

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We learnt something about vet’s bills then and endorsed the Vet’s career choice.

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It was a tortuous process getting him in the first place but it did mean we really really wanted him and we wouldn’t have missed those 10 years for all the tea in Tesco’s.

And now? Well, we’re not going to be without a dog for a while…

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His successor…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in children, dogs, family, humour, miscellany and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to So you want a dog, do you?

  1. colinandray says:

    More power to you “guys” for adopting another dog. Your point about it being “all about the dog” is so misunderstood. I have met a number of people who were declined an adoption request for perfectly logical reasons (e.g. young professional couple living in high rise apartment wanted to adopt a very cute husky puppy!) …. and they were so indignant. They felt that because they had the money, they should be able to adopt any dog they wish. Thank goodness for organizations that do examine the prospective owners in the context of suitability and, regardless of their need for revenues, do not “sell out” on the dogs.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. A love story…and good for you for getting a successor ! ☺

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    The adoption process can be tortuous with endless interviews and screenings to make sure you are a suitable parent.. it is even more so if you would like to adopt a dog.. Still looks like it was worth every minute. Geoff Le Pard on the joys of opening your home and heart to a rescue dog.

    Like

  4. jan says:

    We once had two dogs, two cats, three canaries and a bowl full of clown fish. All have gone and now we just have one rescue cat. He’s cost us a bundle in vet bills but he keeps my hubby amused.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “could pass as a horse in the dark with the light behind it”. Rescues/used dog (as a neighbor child calls them) and must like cats.
    You and your home sound like winners.
    Congrats on being selected and owned by another fine dog.

    Like

  6. Allie P. says:

    Our adoption process was fairly similar although we had a few less interviews. It helps that two of our neighbors are volunteers at a rescue shelter and were able to vouch for our home as well as our suitability as parents. Even so, we still had to submit an essay of an application.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is wild. I had no idea picking a dog from a shelter would be so much work. That’s wonderful because it is about the dog, after all. I wonder if they’re that thorough in the US? Love all the photos of your steampunk dog. 🐢 And his successor. (Your paragraph about your gran and Trump had me laughing so hard I almost spit out my drink.)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sacha Black says:

    Aww loved this post. What a tail, loved the memory and the dog was clearly adored 😍😍 feeling all warm and gooey inside. HOW DARE YOU MELT MY COAL FILLED HEART. Heathen.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a beautiful boy your GSD Lurcher was – a mix of two beautiful breeds! Good on you for going for rescues. I’ve had a quite a bit to do with Greyhound Rescue Wales over the years and some of the stories I’ve heard about home checks would turn your hair white – some people get really aggressive when they’re told they can’t have a dog. I admire the people who do the home checks, I don’t think I could do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A rescue dog. The best kind to adopt. How lovely you found each other, him for you and a family for him. I love pet stories. *sigh* Sorry about your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. There was that knowing small inward chuckle as I read: ‘So one weekend, a Sunday I think we set off in high hopes that that evening we would return with our new family member.’

    When we set off to get our first dog back then, I think most of us were all about what we wanted – owning of course changes that perspective. Thank heavens the shelters were a step ahead!

    Siddy was my retirement present to me, from me – and is absolutely the best gift I ever gave myself πŸ™‚ Except of course he chose me. I went in wanting a) bichon b) female c) mature and came out with a) crazy mix b) male c) six weeks old and hell on wheels………. Wouldn’t change a thing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. M. L. Kappa says:

    I like the successor. In Greece you can also go to a rescue place but usually you can find a dog by yourself as unfortunately there are a lot of strays… I’ve found homes for umpteen puppies thrown over the garden gate. My last adopted dog Lucy, looked like a fox, played with the local foxes at night, and lived to the ripe old age of 15.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Mick Canning says:

    My neighbour got a rescue cat. He said the interview was tougher than anything he’d ever had to go through before – they visited his house and inspected it, as well as giving him the third degree over every aspect of his life.
    He has the cat.
    The cat rules his house..

    Like

  14. Charli Mills says:

    A tender reflection that had me melting at each photo. They forget to tell you that in reality the dog gets re-homed in your hearts. But I nearly choked on my laughter at this (until I realized this menace is my country’s shame and reality): “Donald Trump on being told the wasp he’s just swallowed is actually Mexican. Or Muslim. Or both.”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh, I’m so sorry… And I’m happy for you and the new pup.
    When I got Crystal, the rescue place insisted on coming into my house before they would hand her over — and I had already paid all the fees… It took about 2 weeks to actually get the kitten.
    Wishing you all the best. Mega hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. merrildsmith says:

    Sorry your beloved dog died too soon, but I’m glad his successor found a good home. He’s a cutie.

    We didn’t have to go through quite as much to get our cats from the shelter, but we did have to answer a questionnaire, and then wait to be approved. Our cats join in all of our discussions, and they were not happy when our daughter and son-in-law’s dog visited. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  17. A very enjoyable read Geoff… I don’t own a dog or a cat – I’d have to murder my husband first – he doesn’t want any pets…. so I’ll never get to that interview process unless it’s an interview in a police station. Ha Ha!! It’s a shame really as I could do with the walks…. though I’m more of a cat person, but you can’t take cats for walks..though my hairdresser told me about a person who took a rare breed out on a collar. So perhaps the answer is to hope for one of each one day in the distant future….. if I outlive my hubby! I’d go for a small dog breed, maybe a spaniel, and a run of the mill mongrel cat… hope they’ll get on.

    Like

  18. KL Caley says:

    ❀ ❀ Beautiful story Geoff! True tale (tail) of what is meant to be will be – I think. Both our fluffy dictators are from rescue homes and we wouldn't be without them. We know they may have had a difficult past but to us, that just gives them interesting quirks. The big brown eyes win every time. πŸ™‚

    Like

  19. Amusing as ever, Geoff. Nottingham’s rescue had a similar process. We also endured a ruptured stifle

    Liked by 1 person

  20. What a wonderful story, Geoff, and I’m so pleased to have met Mylo.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: So you want a dog, do you? | TanGental

  22. Aww Geoffle this was beautiful. We grew up with a food-obsessed beagle that we had adopted, and she passed away after 18 years (must have been the fact that she lived the life of riley). I didn’t realise that the adoption process was so thorough at Battersea, when I rescued my cat someone quickly popped round and that was it… Totally worth it though – he was beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. noelleg44 says:

    A great story, Geoff, about the right way to adopt a dog! Clearly a match made in heaven, which carried on with another dog. Our first dog was a rescue, too, with the sweetest disposition in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Blitzen looked a beaut.

    Luckily in our UK rescue days, we filled in a form and took them home the same day, with the agreement they could come and inspect. They never did. Have to say I would be a bit racked off after six dogs living into double figures (mostly mid-teens) if I got the third degree. Much easier, like ML says, to take them off the street.

    The shelters are soul destroying, and not to be able to take a dog immediately? Ugh. I think the rules are too exacting. We had a GSD/husky in a flat. He seemed pretty happy. We have two hunting dogs in a flat. They have a home. That is what is important. I saw a small bodeguero (small Spanish JR type ratter) leap an eight foot gate. Ours could do it, but they don’t. It’s not about rules. It’s about attitude. In our block, we have a Doberman, our two Podencos, and an English springer spaniel. Hardly flat/lap dogs, yet they all manage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I suppose there are a mix of reasons – some attempt to make sure the dog isn’t returned because the owners over estimated what they can cope with. But yes I’m with you; if the alternative is the dog stays in the home it’s hardly a good outcome; much like human adoptions I suppose where having a child languish in care when there are willing and able parents out there who might not fit the relevant criteria perfectly is absurd.

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  25. Such a lovely post about your family and the experience tou had adopting your first dog. So pleased for you that you found the right dog to fit in and that you did ut again!

    Like

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