Column 13 – Part 1

Adopting a dog in Indianapolis, IN?

Both my wife and I have always wanted a dog of our own. We both grew up with a furry companion, but just in the last year we have felt like we were secure enough financially to get one.

At first, I was looking for a specific mix of Shar Pei and Pit Bull. Why that combination in particular? We knew another dog that we thought of as “perfect” that had that exact mixing. We watch her from time to time and really love her a lot. But the options for this mix were slim, costly, and usually involved a time consuming trip. It took me over 8 months of semi-passive searching to come to the realization that I may have to compromise some, but also to realize that it shouldn’t be this hard to adopt a dog.

Up until now, I had always shuddered at the thought of adopting from a shelter. The shelter’s I have visited have the wafting aroma of a loaded diaper, and are equally messy. Not to mention, the few folks I have met who run shelters seem to be less than welcoming. I would make a large assumption that their hardened demeanor is a result of what they have seen over the years. They also have probably also fought losing battles with weak willed character and apathy in potential adoptees who don’t really want any of the responsibility of owning a dog.

When a friend of ours told us that certain shelters came to the major pet outlets (Petco and Petsmart) on the weekends with dog’s to adopt, I was skeptically anticipating a similar experience in a store as I would have at the shelter itself. But I was wrong. At Petsmart there is a rescue named P.A.K. (or Puppy and Kitten Rescue as the acronym goes) that dispelled most of my preconceived notions.

Thursday through Sunday P.A.K. would set puppies out in little fenced in gates out on the main floor for all of the people to swoon. Just like any other puppies, they aren’t potty trained and their little fenced in area gets messy, but here in the store helpers quickly snatched up the dirty newspapers out of the gates as soon as ” business” occurred. And despite the reality that not all puppies would be adopted, and there would be many unfit, flighty, spur of the moment decision makers who would want to adopt, the P.A.K. rescue folks were warm, friendly, and ready to re-explain anything they probably had to explain ten times over during the course of any one given day.

This was what really impressed me about P.A.K. rescue. I am not oblivious to the responsibilities of adopting a puppy, but at the same time, I don’t want to concentrate on the inevitable smell and ruin any pet will bring to your nice things. You take the good with the bad, and when you are shopping you want mostly the good. Not to mention, here, your heart gets a rest. These are playful puppies, hopeful but aloof, not grown dogs who have been abused, underappreciated, and in cages most of their lives. The in store dog shopping was a nice medium for me, it was more neutral, and P.A.K’s main focus was the customer, not some pressing duty or care around the shelter.

So, we had made the decision that we wanted to adopt a puppy in one of the major pet stores, but we still were very unsure of what sort of knowledge we should possess before owning a young dog. Both my wife and I had grown up with dogs, but weren’t the primary care givers so our combined cobbled knowledge made for a set of inexperienced, retarded, red-headed-step-child-named-Cletus type owners.

Not to worry, P.A.K. rescue also had a great solution for potential owners like us. They would essentially let you “rent a dog” for one night or for four days during the week. At the surface this seems like a good racket to get you committed to those beautiful brown eyes. But if you have a strong will, this will allow you to get to know their personality a little bit, and find out some things about puppy rearing that you may have not already known. I am sure most people bring a puppy home and probably can’t help but get attached and adopt it. We were aware, and did our best to be prepared.

But despite our big fat pragmatic brains, our heart went out to the dog we chose, and we got attached. Hell, we had already started the naming process for our “Rent a dog” before our 24 hours was up, so we decided it was time to make a little leap and keep him. In the day we watched him, he didn’t give us any weird surprises, we liked his personality, and we were ready to have the responsibility of training him and caring for him on a day in day out basis.

P.A.K. gave us all of our forms and the remaining information we needed, calmly going through everything and not rushing us through the process. Now, an important note to this story is that these puppies were rescued from another shelter, meaning the history of the young dogs was one mystery you would have to accept. But P.A.K. did give them their first deworming and other initial puppy checks and treatments.

On top of that, Petsmart has made the whole new owner ramp up period even easier. They give you coupons for the supplies you will need, and they have partnered with Banfield pet hospital, which is located inside the store, to provide packaged health care visits and vaccinations to keep your puppy healthy. Banfield is a registered veterinarian hospital that has convenient hours (the same hours as Petsmart) and great prices. (I almost think they may be subsidized because of their agreement.) Banfield even provides a completely free looksie at your newest family member before you sign the final adoption papers.

This is where we were naive. I thought, that if the vet checked the dog over, then we would know right away of any major issues the puppy might have. But as I stood there, the puppy check seemed to be nothing more than a visual lookover to make sure your puppy wasn’t bleeding from the tip of his tail or missing a leg or something. There were no real tests concerning the health of the dog, only a check for some obvious visual cues, that if found would signify some condition so long progressed that your dog probably would pass away before you even left the store.

But, still committed, we left with our new puppy in tow. Now, fast forward a week. We have experienced good and bad in our new puppy “Kellogg”. He is clumsy and cute, but poops and pees all over the house and bites everything within a two inch radius of his mouth. We expected nothing less, but alarmingly we got something we never anticipated. It seemed about mid week that Kellogg started to growl when we picked him up, his demeanor changing from playful to nasty at the drop of dime. Then we get a larger, longer sign that something is wrong.

Continue to Part 2…..

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