How to Adopt a Dog

By on 22 November, 2010 in City Living, Kate and Stephen, Pets with 3 Comments

It had been three months since our beloved dog Roswell died after eleven years of life, eleven months of which was spent living (quite well, actually) with liver cancer. We miss her terribly. She watched over us while we showered, and protected us from the cat, the mailman and assorted squirrels. She infused a delicious and wiggly enthusiasm into the things we took for granted, like mornings, food, and scratching behind the ears. And then she left us, and we were sad. So was the cat, even though he tried not to show it.

We had been to the Montgomery Humane Society once before, after Roswell died, to drop off her food and chews for dogs that might need them. While we were there, we learned that every year the Humane Society receives over 16,000 animals, of which only 4,000 are adopted. This means that they must euthanize more than 12,000 animals, most of which would probably make any home more happy. We also learned that there are 7 homeless dogs and cats for each person in the state of Alabama, a despicable statistic. Part of the problem is that people don’t spay or neuter their pets. Bob Barker’s been on about this for decades. More locally, we’ve got the Alabama Animal Alliance (check out the disturbing picture for their recent “Spay-ghetti” fundraiser on their website) operating a low-cost spay/neuter clinic over on the Atlanta Highway by the Goodwill. All of this is good, but there are still hundreds of beautiful and nice animals up at the Humane Society who need homes.

We knew that when we got a new dog (because we knew eventually we’d want to share our lives with another dog), we would get her from the shelter. Because to us, it wouldn’t make any sense to get a dog anywhere else.

When we went back this week, we actually weren’t meaning to get a dog. On Tuesday, we were thinking about getting a kitten – something small and fluffy to entertain us and alleviate the cat’s loneliness at the same time. But we just couldn’t resist looking at the dogs, so we started there first. We began in the puppy room. It was clean and fresh-smelling, with cages of different sizes stacked four or so high around all the sides of the room. The first day we were there we were greeted by about a dozen puppies varying from extremely to ridiculously cute. But we were pretty sure we weren’t ready for a puppy, or at least didn’t fall in love. So we went back to see the older dogs.

That’s when we met a very nice big black dog. We decided to take her out, and one of the kind and knowledgeable employees leashed her up and took her with us to the facility’s spacious and well-kept exercise yard. She ran around the manicured grass, sniffed at all the shrubs and pine straw, and generally seemed gentle and happy. We were worried that maybe she would be aggressive with our cat, though. When we mentioned this, the staffer suggested that we take her into the Cat Room to see how she did.

Going into the Cat Room would be a dicey proposition for even the most pro-cat dog. The day we were there it was full of more than a dozen cats. Some were in cages, but others were roaming around, hiding in corners, climbing on toys or engaging in general lurking. The dog was surprisingly calm, despite the efforts several cats made to goad her into action. We were impressed. We decided to think it over.

Three days later, having made our house dog-ready and given extra love to the cat in advance of our tumultuous new arrival, we went back to the Humane Society. Although the Human Society doesn’t reserve dogs (for obvious reasons), she was still there! We said we were ready to adopt her, and they took us with her out to the exercise area so we could “get adjusted to each other.” Probably this was also to let her work out some of her endless supply of puppy energy before she came home with us. After we’d let her run around, we took her into one of the two Adoption Rooms. The first one we went into had some problems with a spastic motion sensing light. We filled out the adoption paperwork there while they copied a drivers’ license. The paperwork was pretty thorough, probably because they’re trying to weed out people who don’t seem to know how to raise dogs. When it was revealed that the printer in this room didn’t work, we were moved into the other room to finalize the adoption.

Since our dog had been at the shelter for a while (since she was four months old, a beautiful fuzzy puppy), they were able to give us all of her shot records, her rabies tag, and basically her whole health history. We also learned that she would get a free month of insurance (through a company called ShelterCare) and a free initial vet visit (through a network of participating vets). She had already been spayed, and was in perfect health.

We learned that all pets leaving the shelter have to be appropriately restrained – cats in carriers, or dogs with a proper leash and collar. You can bring your own or buy them for a reasonable price from their own in-house store. The store is stocked with everything from collapsible crates to pet-themed T-shirts.

The adoption process was seamless and took about thirty minutes. We were able to pay quickly at the front desk as various charming children wandered wide-eyed into the puppy room with their parents. Then we were off on our new adventure with our beautiful new dog.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a dog, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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There Are 3 Brilliant Comments

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  1. patty defee says:

    congrats on your beautiful new pet and thanks for adopting from mhs and for choosing an older, big black dog! i hope you have many, many happy years with her!

  2. Gabbie says:

    Congratulations!!! What a sweet puppy!

  3. Tara L says:

    So sorry about Roswell, but congratulations on a beautiful new puppy!!! She’s a lucky dog!

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