An Expensive Adoption, and a Justification Thereof
June 16, 2011
Doggle’s Details, continued.
Now that I’ve shocked and appalled you all with the high cost of living in California, and particularly in Northern California… 😉
I’ve never paid more than $50 to adopt a pet, and rarely even that much, in the past, so this adoption was quite a bit unusual in a number of ways.
I have never considered purchasing from a breeder or a pet store – my philosophy against that is clear. Those future pets will eventually find homes because they were bred with the intent to be sold and someone has a vested interest in placing them elsewhere; animals in shelters and rescues are only a step away from euthanasia. I am an adopter, always. I was that kid hauling home strays trying to figure out who they belonged to and how to get them home if they had a home. Once in a rare while, we would become the new home. My parents were sympathetic but they weren’t crazy or wealthy so it was a meal and a roof until the dog could be placed somehow.
It was a lot easier, back in the day down south, when we had a yard. Someone was sort of always around to keep an eye on the pups running around or keep them separated if you had a new stray in. Surrounded by friends and family nearby, you could even easily phone someone for a quick drop in if you really had to on an extra busy day to feed the dog(s). We never did that but you always knew the safety net was there.
Now, though, PiC and I wanting to bring home a dog is a very different story. The simple lack of a yard alone changes the game entirely. Add in the frequently inclement weather, our working hours and commute times, all of these spelled out a need for a completely different approach.
Suddenly, we had to satisfy a profile if this was to work. We couldn’t just pick a nice looking friendly pup and call it a day. We especially couldn’t have a puppy: they need attention, socialization, training, access to the outdoors/potty pads every few hours while they’re learning bladder control since neither of us wants to have to unteach bad habits we helped instill.
I’d been wanting an older dog; PiC prefers larger dogs. We knew we needed a dog that enjoyed going for walks but could tolerate being indoors for long periods of time. This dog had to be dog-friendly and kid-friendly because there are loads of both running around here, and not a barker by nature. We’ve been living with a barker below us and it’s driving us batty but we tolerate it. I guarantee you, however, that the neighbors would not be so tolerant in return. There are some incredibly petty people in this HOA.
Looking at shelters alone didn’t quite cut it. While they were great starting points because they had all kinds of lovely dogs we were limited from the outset against adopting specific breeds, and the local shelter is heavily stocked with those specific breeds. My favorites were cut straightaway, the jerks! They don’t allow Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, Dobermanns, etc. Breedists. I despise blanket restrictions like that. I love dogs of just about any breed and pit bulls especially because they can be so very good-tempered, intelligent and trainable, and the local shelters prescribe mandatory training classes when they adopt out pit bulls which is absolutely smart, so it’s a great set-up for their lives, but noooo…. *still bitter about this*
We stumbled across a specific breed rescue that pulls northern breeds from shelters and puts them into foster homes directly, and while Doggle’s actually not really a pinpointable member of any of the breeds they cater to, he’s close enough that they couldn’t resist him.
He’d been with them a year, had a surgical procedure and follow-up, vaccinations, a microchip placed, and was mellow the whole time. Reviewing that year with him, his foster mom was able to give us his history of behavior, preferences, reactions to people, other dogs, changes, diet, toys, length of time he was happy to be left alone – all of this practically before we ever came to see him. When we met him, he was this chubby cheeked cheerful fellow that just radiated curiosity and goodwill. He’s been that way ever since. It would have been tough to get that consistent and detailed a perspective from most shelters.
While our local shelter does do fostering and would have been half the price, they didn’t have anyone that fit enough of the profile that wasn’t a Pit. (I love our Doggle and wouldn’t trade him but I’m still annoyed on behalf of the Pits who won’t get placed because of places like ours.) I truly look forward to moving into a home where the only rules are our own: a dog that is in need of a home, trainable and gets along with other dogs and people.
The high(er) cost for his adoption, then, was because of the rescue organization that we went with. They are non-profit, yes, and it also costs a lot to rescue, care for and maintain the dogs for the length of time it takes to get them to their permanent homes. All the volunteers, going all the way up to the top of the organization, work for free. (I checked.) While I’m not one to pay a higher price for perceived value, this was a higher price for something we put a high premium on: knowledge that we could rely on and the availability of a pet that was the right fit.
Also, let’s not kid ourselves about the cute factor.