Once a potential adopter complained about my terrible "customer service". Recently a man likened the experience of adopting a dog to buying a car.
Oh. Hell. No.
I explained to both gentlemen, very firmly, that they were sadly mistaken. They are neither clients nor customers. They are not buying and I am not selling. I am, however, serving. I do have clients. Today there are about 20, and at the top of the list is Petina.
Petina is a 10 year old Staghound from Indiana. She is likely mostly Greyhound but has wirehair, hinting at a Deerhound or Wolfhound in her not too distant lineage. Her previous owner was anxious because Petina was anxious because her owner was anxious because Petina was anxious . . . in her foster home, Petina is learning to not be anxious. Unless breakfast is late. If breakfast is late there is definitely going to be some whining.
In my version of The Bachelor, potential mates are carefully vetted. While the gentlemen above were waiting to be flattered and courted, our team of volunteers were busy judging them. We are not unkind, but we are thorough. The matches we make have to survive not just a night--or a season--but a lifetime.
In one way or another, all of the dogs we place are special needs. They are old or broken or old and broken. They are not a commodity or even an asset. They are a dependent and a liability. They are a child who will never move out and get a job. When you adopt a dog you are signing a contract to feed them, provide vet care, and pay to replace the remotes they eat. You are taking on the obligation to sooth the asses they bite. And yes, all of this can be a terrible responsibility.
Occasionally we will receive an application from someone who wants an emotional support dog or service dog. Again, I explain to them that is not what we do. We are not here to support you. We are here to support them.
The relationships that we make when we match dogs to humans are not balanced and that is by design. I am not looking for an adopter who will love Petina as much as she loves them. What I am trying to find for Petina is someone who will love her ten times more than she loves them. She needs someone who will love her when she's pouting because breakfast is ten minutes late. She needs someone who will love her if she gets stressed out during a thunderstorm and poops on their floor.
Petina needs an Emotional Support Human.
So before you apply to adopt, ask yourself if you can be there for this dog? When she is old and cranky? When she is scared and barks at the mailman? When she gets confused and eats your favorite shoes?
To be very, very clear, you are not buying a shirt or a car. You are applying for a job. This job has no salary, no 401K, no healthcare. This job is first, second, AND third shift. This job has no growth potential and will almost certainly end in tears.
It does, however, have fantastic fringe benefits.
This is not your dog. But if you are very, very lucky, you might be her human.