We just adopted a dog! Yep, that’s right–we realized that with three kids, two cats, and a baby on the way, we didn’t really have enough to do with our time. Thus, we needed a dog!
Seriously, though, we have wanted to get a dog for probably our whole marriage. Our lifestyles and living arrangements never really made that feasible though—in Chicago our landlord said no (and, to give him credit, we already had two cats), before that, we often lived in apartments with a two pet rule.
We spent a lot of time talking over what kind of dog to get. Did we want a puppy? A rescue? A senior dog? What breed?
I was heavily in favor of getting an English Setter. My favorite childhood dog was a Setter, and he was just what you want from your childhood dog. He was playful, he was snuggly, he was a good pillow when we watched TV. And he was beautiful. One of my saddest memories was the day that I drove him to the vet to have him put down. If I think about it too much, it still makes me tear up.
Kullervo didn’t necessarily have a preference of breed, although he figured that a Labrador would be a good choice—everyone has labs! They’re good dogs! And I definitely wanted a big dog. I know lots of people love their small dogs, but if I was going to get a small dog, I’d rather just get another cat. We thought about getting a puppy—no ingrained bad habits, and let’s face it—puppies are freaking adorable. But, at the same time, puppies also wake up at night and need to be taken out to go to the bathroom, and need to be housebroken (no ingrained good habits, either!). And with a baby on the way, I figure that we should make the most of these last few months where we often get to sleep for 6 hours or so at a stretch (more if we’d just go to bed earlier).
That said, we also weren’t sure about getting a senior dog. The death of a pet is one of the saddest events of anyone’s childhood, and we recently lost our evil cat, Loki, and the kids were devastated. They still get sad when they think about him. And while adopting a senior dog is wonderful, and something I imagine I’ll do later, with little kids in the house, we wanted them to grow up with a dog that would be there for most or all of their childhoods.
And I wanted to adopt a rescued dog. There are so many dogs out there looking for a good home, who are great dogs, but who were given up or got lost for whatever reason. I wanted to adopt our fourth baby, but got pregnant the month before we started the paperwork. I’m one of those people who wants to save all the babies and all the cats and all the dogs, and wish that I had the time, space, and money to do that well! Barring that, we decided to adopt a rescued English Setter.
We found a few English Setter rescue organizations on the web, and browsed their listings of dogs. One of the organizations stood out to me because the people fostering the rescued dogs would write about the dogs, and try to expose them to cats and other dogs and children, to gauge how well they’d do. The adoption policies and procedures were clear, and the support they offer post-adoption seemed useful. We also found an adorable five month old dog named Sarge who we wanted to make our own.
We started the application procedure, and it felt like it took forever. They asked for our vet references, personal references, and they did a phone interview. Then they scheduled someone to come over and do a home visit to see what our home was like. I think mostly they wanted to make sure we weren’t crazy people with dead dog bodies hanging on the walls, or people who obviously abuse small creatures. As we haven’t yet decorated our house, we passed the inspection. We were assigned a buddy to help us contact the people fostering dogs we were interested in, and to help us narrow our search. By this point, Sarge had already been adopted. There were a few other dogs we looked into, but none worked out. One dog was deaf, and we ultimately decided that was too challenging for our first dog. A couple were adopted quickly.
Then our buddy sent us an email about a dog named Dally. Dally wandered out of the woods (and was named by the fosters after The Outsiders), and they found her and looked for her owner. They couldn’t find anyone. They also knew that they couldn’t keep her. She was good with kids, okay with cats, and had a lot of energy. She was somewhere between one and two years old, not yet spayed, and had already had a litter of puppies. She was also beautiful.
I spoke to the foster mom a few times on the phone about her, and it seemed like she would be a good fit. We decided to go through with the adoption.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and on Thursday, August 22, Hazel’s half-birthday, Dally arrived.