Since I was a kid I always loved dogs even though I could never really have one, lest it be an “outside dog,” or forced to dwell only in our moldy, unfinished basement. So no surprise that as an adult I became best friends with a four legged creature. She’s not Lassie or Rin Tin Tin nor is she any of the cock diesel Pit Bulls from North Philly. Just a fluffy, muppet kind of thing who thinks she should sleep in my bed every night or on top of the kids.
Sometimes though, I think she’s lonely. She has more friends than me, but she doesn’t drive so it’s difficult for them together without human assistance. I thought she could use a friend. She loved the cat at first, but then it became her tormentor. I’d hear Cassie crying every night and barking at the cat to back off as he assaulted her from atop bookshelves, from under couches and over ottomans. A dog friend might be nicer.
If you’re anything like me with oodles of liberal friends, you know several people who work at/with pet adoption or foster organizations. A third of the people on my Facebook friends list like dogs more than people. So, I reach out into the doggie adoption realm. There was an event. One of those puppy gatherings where you can bring your dog and other people bring their dogs and people are sniffing and barking and eating treats and wearing t-shirts that say clever dog stuff on them.
I went to fill out a form (several forms) to procure a pet. A homie for Cass, when I began to grapple with a huge reason why so many people don’t adopt. The process is ludicrously intense and highly ostracizing. It was easier to get a passport. Easier to get a job. Easier to join the military. Getting my concealed carry permit and buying a motherfucking gun was less scrutinizing than adopting a dog. I didn’t quite grasp how comical the potential comparisons would be until I was set back with one of the expected, nasty elements of high-falluting liberalism. The woman who I handed my doggie visa request documents to had to speak to a vet in order to check on my ability to care for a dog (a dog who was presently waiting at the door smiling at everyone).
She went into the room on a phone and emerged minutes later with a face like spoiled milk.
“Well,” she said, speaking through me with a tone I imagine reserved for children who don’t take their muddy shoes off when they enter the house. “Looks like you have two dogs and they aren’t up to date on their shots.”
One was a cat, who was since adopted by a friend of mine, and it turns out Cassie was due for a booster. I just let Becca talk, she and Ryan had driven with me, and the woman was on Becca’s phone anyways.
The older woman deepened her voice. “Since you don’t take care of your dog–” and then the rest kind of fell away from me. Something about the fact that Ryan and Becca do take care of theirs, which, while not untrue, was hearsay at this point. My own spoiled ass dog waiting outside trying not to get adopted.
It was funny in a lot of ways because Ryan and I are typically harsh about people not taking care of their dogs. All those obese labs that look allergic to exercise, the rampantly misbehaved or aggressive ones that people refuse to train, Michael Vick’s dogs, the dogs who are fed excessive amounts of the people food that even people shouldn’t be eating. But the woman who held the key to Cassie’s friend had thrown me right in the camp. While my happier, better behaved, sleeping in the bed, beach going, running 30 plus miles a week, lake swimming, having more friends than me brat of a dog was patiently sitting outside expecting a new puppy to lick.
It’s not like raising questions about the metrics used for adopting a dog could have come out as anything other than combative. I’d already witnessed several objectively nasty candidates stroll out with dogs that will receive as much love and attention as Catherine Martin in The Silence of The Lambs. Or they’ll be tormented by the troves of children who’ve never been told no, while the sun scared owners who refuse to take the dog outside are beached on the couch (which the dog will not be allowed on) with a six pack of Natty Ice before rising only to throw the plastic rings into an endangered sea turtle breeding zone and leave their lit cigarette in the sand. But I digress.