Some people and animal welfare groups will position dog adoption as "saving a life" and on one hand, that is true, but should it be the sole reason you choose to have a dog? Not for me. Bringing a dog into my life means risking my heart, and that is serious business for me.
Because I don't respond well to this kind of dog adoption campaign, do I lack empathy? Am I cold and indifferent to their plight?
Seriously Adorable Adoptable.
Anyone who reads my posts knows how much I love my dog, but I didn't decide to bring her into my life while wearing rose colored glasses. My eyes were wide open when we found her at the San Francisco SPCA and I believe that has made all the difference in the quality of our many years together.
Before we found her, I was busy working through a check list made in the same vein as a risk profile. Years before when I worked for a brokerage firm, new clients had to answer a series of questions that were meant to help us better understand their capacity and tolerance for risk. It was due diligence to help manage expectations on both sides.
Using my checklist to help us through the process of bringing a dog into our lives allowed my husband and I to discover where our expectations were aligned, or out of sync. We had a good idea of what kind of dog we wanted by the time our eyes met Cleo's through the plexiglass of her room.
Happily Ever After.
I didn't adopt to save a life. I adopted because Cleo was the perfect dog for us. We sought out a big dog, a smart dog, and a happy dog. We looked in many places until we met Cleo. I believe having many frank discussions about what life would be like after adding a dog before we actually did, contributed significantly to our living happily ever after.
Maybe some people need to feel they are saving a life in order to commit to a dog and that's okay, just not me. I feel that the greater issue is the handshake. Before my heart got involved, we committed ourselves to Cleo. I call it a social contract. When we chose Cleo my husband and I looked at each other, then her, and shook on it. We told ourselves that from that day forward, we will stand by her no matter what. We will be responsible for our decision.
I may not have adopted Cleo in order to save her life, but I understand the need for the SF/SPCA to ensure all healthy adoptable dogs have a home. There are people who let their emotions guide them, but that can sometimes lead to trouble, whether investing money or investing in a dog. I don't think it was so bad that I chose Cleo with my eyes open, do you? It didn't stop me from falling in love, and we've had a wonderful life together.
Every day my heart hurts a little more because I know our time together is coming to an end, but I find solace looking in her eyes and seeing that she understands we are committed to her. After all these years and with every new health issue, Cleo hasn't lost her sense of belonging.
Maybe she chose us, as much as we chose her?
How did you find your dog? Did you use a check list too? Share your thoughts in the comments.