Tomorrow afternoon Geoff Reed and I are going to visit Lucy’s possible new home. ICHBA calls this visit a meet and greet. It’s the last step in ICHBA’s adoption process. If we think her new family is suitable, then we’ll leave her there. If not, Lucy’s coming back with us.
Geoff and I talked on the phone yesterday and agreed that if for one second we get a bad vibe, then we’ll tell the family it’s not going to work out. It would be a hard thing to explain to the parents and their two little girls, but Donna, ICHBA’s founder, gave me a tip last year that I carry with me to every “meet and greet.” She said that if I put the dog’s well being before any human feelings, then it’s easier to say no. And she’s right.
Still, picking the right home is complicated. I’ve been wrong three times out of twenty eight. Those bad decisions eat at me for the same reason that I can tell the wrong family no. When the dogs are my number one priority and I fail them, it feels like I stepped on a nail, a rusty one.
The problem with making the right call about a family is that up to a certain point, it’s all a guessing game, a gamble. Families can have great recommendations from friends and veterinarians, positive interviews with both the foster family and Donna, amiable meet and greets, yet still end up returning the dog six months after they adopted them.
It’s always nice to know you’re not alone, and I’m finding a lot of companionship in David Wroblewski’s book The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. In general, his writing is singing to my dog-loving heart, but in particular, I’m finding quotes reflecting my feelings about picking the right home. The novel is a big book about a deaf boy named Edgar and his dog Almondine, but it’s worth the time. (Thanks for the recommendation, Todd Langston.) In this scene, Edgar and his father are discussing the possibility of socializing an adult feral dog:
“Every time I think about that dog, something your grandfather used to say comes to mind. He hated placing pups, really hated it. That’s why he started keeping them until they were yearlings-said most people had no idea how to handle a pup. Wrecked their dogs before they were six months old…Anyway, what I mean is, he hated having to choose where the dogs went. He thought it was pure guesswork. (80)”
I’ll let you know if Geoff and I guess right or not as soon as possible.