Monday, May 3, 2010


Originally uploaded by reallyct
This is Courtney. She is not our dog. I have spent the past 48 hours hoping/having anxiety dreams that some really nice couple or family have adopted Courtney. Because I couldn't.

Let's backtrack. Devoted partner and I attended the Adoptathon at the North Shore Animal League this past weekend. We first learned about it last year from an adorable 6 or 7 year old on the D train who was over the moon about the puppy he had just adopted and told us we absolutely had to go the next day because Cesar Millan was there. Not one to pass up an opportunity to window lick at the puppy palace and to get a photo with the Dog Whisperer, I used my best puppy dog eyes on devoted partner and off we went to Long Island (strangely not as bad as one is led to believe). We went again this year.

Now we live in a lovely house with a lovely landlady who, it seems, has had more than a couple of bad experiences with tenants and their pets. Both devoted partner and I think there could be some wiggle room, perhaps with the promise of additional security deposit/installation of invisible fence etc., but we just haven't gotten around to doing it because we know that once we do, we're definitely getting a dog and much as we would really really like to be dog owners, we also know it's a huge responsibility and one we are not willing to halfass. Still, we love dogs and the adoptathon is really really a nice time. (And thankfully none of the volunteers remembered us from last year as the people who fondled multiple dogs and adopted none of them).

The North Shore Animal League puts on a great show and they smartly ask would-be adopters to walk through the selection of adult animals before letting them at the puppies. This is a hard gauntlet to walk because it is immediately apparent which dogs are not destined for adoption. NSAL is a no-kill shelter, may they be endlessly praised for this, but some of the dogs are, well, broken. You see the eyes and you hear the growl and you know this is a dog that needs more help than most people are willing or able to give. And that is really really sad. I was heartened to see a number of families getting to know the adult dogs in the atrium, but most people came for the puppies including, frankly, us. As we rounded the corner I saw this dog and probably said something like, "ah, shit, she's going to have a hard time getting adopted," and we moved on, eager to see the puppies.

And there were puppies galore - lots of cute ones too. My early favorite was a fawn colored hound who liked chewing on my fingers; devoted partner liked a shepherd mix. We were pleased to see both of them picked up by happy families. Still, while there were many cute puppies, none of them was The One. We walked around a bit more, hoping to see the new puppies being brought from the back, and to kill time we walked around the adult dogs again. This time, I stopped at Courtney's enclosure. I like pits. I think they can be amazing dogs, provided you're willing to put in the time to temper their natural enthusiasm - they're a bit like boxers that way. You just have to be able to determine whether or not the one you're about to pet would like to roll on its back to give you access to its stomach which needs petting or if it would like to eat your hand. This dog wanted belly rubs. She came up and smelled our hands and let us pet her through the grate; then she got up on her hind legs and leaned her head over the top.

It was right around this time that I sort of lost it. I just knew in my heart of hearts that this was a good dog. That this was a dog who would love you forever. And that would be immediately dismissed as not suitable pet material by most of the people walking by. 2 1/2 year old pit bulls are not at the top of people's adoptable lists and this made me uncontrollably sad. I knew she wasn't going to be our dog, but I wanted her to be someone's dog because I could so easily see how she would seamlessly fit into our household and I knew we weren't the only ones. Devoted partner was a mensch - after all, I'm sure his idea of a fun time did not include looking for paper towels so that his woman could mop up her blubbering.

I've thought about Courtney a lot since then and even in my wildest fantasies - our landlady immediately agrees we should have a dog, doesn't mind that it's an adult pit bull who will be moving in next to her two grandchildren, Courtney is still at the shelter and we get approved to adopt her, she turns out to be the kind of wonderful pet that would eat neither Hogie nor Saunders - well, it still doesn't make sense. We're off to Miami for nearly a week later this month, and then to Nicaragua the next. We're truly not at a place where a dog makes sense - at least not for the next couple of months.

So I'm going to believe that someone fell in love with Courtney the way I did and that right now she's at her new home with good people and yummy treats. Cause just thinking about it is making me cry a little.

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