Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dog Adoption Quest Continues:

So far, the husband and I have looked at about sixty dogs, roughly eighty of which were pit bulls.1 The one out of the sixty that we both agreed we really really liked and wanted (a German shepherd / black lab mix; very similar to Fervor, but about 1/3 the size, less into play-biting, and female) was adopted out from under us before we could even figure out for sure whether I was allergic.2

We've been to four shelters now (Iowa City,3 Washington, Fairfield, and Tipton), and we've only found two remotely serious contenders: the one above that we didn't have a chance to adopt (Fairfield) and a Grand Pyrenees that we applied for but are probably not going to adopt (from Tipton), even if approved, because . . . I'm not sure. I'm not allergic -- the shelter people even swabbed his mouth and then swabbed the inside of my elbow with the saliva,4 and nothing happened at all. So at least we know that I'm not allergic to the entire species. And he's big, but big dogs are not necessarily a problem: Fervor was a large dog, and we didn't worry about that with him.

The problem is more that neither the husband or I particularly clicked with him. This may be because of the breed: everybody says that Grand Pyrenees are slow to warm up to strangers, as well as being kind of headstrong and territorial and a pain in the ass to train. Not that we want or need a dog that's going to be trying to lick our faces 24/7, or even that it has to be a case of love at first sight again, as it was for me with Fervor and (even more so) the one that was adopted out from under us, but there should at least be something. A spark.

Plus, grooming looks Sisyphean. Though that wouldn't bother me so much if he had a better personality. The reason this picture is of him in the cage, rather than outside, is because he's only looking at me in hopes of getting out of the cage: once we took him out, he completely refused to acknowledge me or the camera, so all the pictures are crap. Manipulative bastard.

So we keep looking. There's no lack of shelters nearby, and the shelters, alas, have no shortage of dogs. Sooner or later it will happen. It's just really frustrating to lose one great dog to allergies, and another dog to . . . well, I guess it's allergies there, too, technically, since the possibility of me being allergic was why we didn't fill out the application immediately. Damn my neurotic immune system.

But in any case. Not allergic to the entire species, so we are going to keep trying, even if I didn't think we would as of last Tuesday. And someday, we'll find one. The question then becomes -- do I re-use the name "Fervor," the name I've been sitting on for the last twenty-five to thirty years, or do I have to come up with a new name, since I named one dog that already? I mean, I don't want to give him/r a complex. (Dog psychoanalysis is not cheap.) And does "Fervor" sound right for a female dog, were we to get a female dog? The husband thinks it sounds unisex, but I think it sounds male. Maybe "Zeal" or "Mania" would be better for a girl?5

Side-note: the large announcement I said I was going to make when I come back from hiatus is postponed for a while, I think. So forget I brought it up. If/when things are in order, then I'll tell you what's going on.


1 (Joke, not typo. There are a lot of pit bulls in shelters. I'm not sure which is more upsetting: that people feel such a need to be strong and manly and shit that they have to get vicarious manliness by borrowing from their dogs, or that they care so little about the dogs they're using that they'll abandon them once the pressure to be manly subsides. I suppose we could adopt one -- despite the reputation, it's my understanding that they're perfectly nice dogs when properly trained and socialized -- but neither the husband or I find them especially appealing. And it's not like there aren't plenty of other dogs to choose from.)
2 Seriously. I played with her and held her and got her to lick me and all that, for quite a while, and she was as wonderful as Fervor but without the tendency toward overexcitement and play-biting, i.e., perfect, and then we left to go get something to eat, discuss, and allow the allergies to appear if they were going to. Then when we came back half an hour later, I was told that right after we left, someone else showed up, with an adoption application already filled out for the dog in question, and they were like 99% positive that they wanted her, so they have priority and we're s.o.l. And this, of course, is the only dog we've seen so far, including Fervor, that both husband and I were enthusiastic about. (The husband was kinda ennh about Fervor to begin with.) Which is just not fair.
Though it possibly wouldn't have been fair anyway, because the allergy stuff was inconclusive: I itched, but it wasn't necessarily from her, and there wasn't very much of it. So we would have had to repeat the test. But still. Damn it.
3 Nobody there I was interested in, though Fervor is there again and I at least got to give him a proper goodbye, which made me feel better. I was kind of an emotional wreck on Tuesday when we brought him back -- intellectually the decision made sense, but emotionally I hadn't caught up, and the husband wouldn't let me be in denial about it. Which was kind of mean. So it was nice to see Fervor again. Still wish we could have kept him: I'm appreciating his virtues a lot more, as we look at more and more other dogs. And I appreciated his virtues quite a bit at the time, as the reader will recall.
4 Inside of the elbow, underside of the forearm, and back of the hand: if I'm going to react, it's going to show up in one of those three places. The elbow seems to be the most sensitive of the three.
5 (We considered "Enthusiasm" briefly, until I realized that "Enthusiasm" best shortens to "Thusie," which sounds nicely feminine. So far so good, but it's hard to say, and I could see it being tempting to lisp the word as "Thuthie." And then if she ran away or something -- I mean, there's no way two gay men can run around a small rural Iowa town calling "Thuthie! Thuthie!" without causing much snickering and the reaching of lethal self-consciousness levels. The husband said having to call "Fervor" was bad enough, the one time Fervor got away for a few minutes.)


Mae said...

Good luck! Finding the right family member is a quest, indeed. I "tested" several cats before the lady laid Vincent in my arms and I immediately knew he was the one. Then it took me another year before Periwinkle found us.

It sounds impossible for all the stars to align (allergies, you liking, spouse liking, dog liking, life style liking) but for all that, it does happen! Don't give up hope! You two will be GREAT dog parents!

And I agree about the pits. It really upsets me, too, but that breed just doesn't do it for me so I'll probably never adopt one. But I will NEVER buy a dog. Never.

MrBrownThumb said...


You got me feeling all sorry for you and laughing out loud within the same post.

"Thuthie! Thuthie!"

LOL.I once adopted a dog named Fred and I was self-conscious calling out his name in public. I can't imagine yelling "Thuthie" in public.

Also, I've always been of the opinion that it is like cheating on the pet to recycle a name. Although you could always go The Simpsons route (Snowball I,II,III,IV etc) and that would be perfectly acceptable.

. said...

I like the idea of "Fervora". Fer-VOR-a.

Autumn Belle said...

Good luck in your quest. Take the time to choose but let your hearts decide. It is important for both of you to click with the dog who is going to be a member of the family.

Carol Michel said...

I never knew people could be allergic to one kind of dog but not another. I thought if you were allergic to dogs, that was it! All dogs! Learn something new every day!

Like the commenter before me said, take your time, let your hearts decide, or in your case, the inside of your elbow.

Aaerelon said...

I've got an idea. Get a new immune system. Just head over to ebay, search for one and have it delivered at your door. Then you can donate your's to someone that doesn't like dogs. It's perfect! I see no problems whatsoever.

Big announcement eh? I really miss having a pet. I hope things work out!

Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ said...

Are there only big dogs available or do you only want a big dog? If you could find a small mix dog with some Yorkie (or other breed with hair and not the double fur coat) I would think that you would be less likely to have allergy problems. Also these smaller dogs are often very loving, easy to care for, and cheap to feed. I have a Yorkie/poodle mix and a Yorkie/Silkie mix and they do not even shred either.

CelticRose said...

Glad to hear you're not allergic to all dogs, and good luck with finding the right one for you.

mr_subjunctive said...

Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ:

Neither, exactly. Most of the dogs in the shelters are at least medium to medium-large (yellow/chocolate/black labs, German Shepherds, pit bulls, the occasional Rottweiler or husky), but there are plenty of smaller dogs too. And we're not necessarily insistent about getting a larger dog (the Fairfield one was small-medium), but we tend to gravitate toward the dogs that are larger breeds, or dogs that are proportioned more like the larger breeds (e.g. a Jack Russell terrier is more likely than a Pomeranian), and agree more often on larger dogs than smaller ones. (I, for example, kind of like smaller beagle / basset hound sorts of dogs, but the husband doesn't so much.) So it's more likely we'll end up with a medium to medium-large dog, but we don't automatically exclude dogs that are larger or smaller from consideration.

cconz said...

Good luck with finding a dog your not allergic to. I'm also allergic (TO EVERYTHING) Dogs and cats and birds. But, i have them all. My allergy dr. told me if i was insisting on getting a dog, at least the boston terrier was right up there with the best. They don't shed much.

Nancy said...

We adopted a pup from the SPCA a month ago. I fell in love with her picture, when I saw her,, even more so! Puppyhood is a pain, especially when she's proven susceptible to urinary tract infections, but she is delightful. Wait for the right one. (Our new pup turns out to be half chow, half rottweiler. Not a combo I would ever choose, but she has a wonderful temperament, seems to have gotten the best of both.)

Diane said...

If you find a breed you're not allergic to, maybe there will also be rescue agency for that breed somewhere near you. Might increase your sample size.

I'd go ahead and reuse the name. It's not like Fervor I will remember it once another family starts calling him Booboo or whatever. How about Fervor II: Electric Boogaloo?

Matti said...

Keep searching until you find out. We rescued our border collie, Max...and he is one happy and lucky dog. Matti

our friend Ben said...

I found tons of pit bulls in the shelters when I looked, too, Mr. S. I decided they'd either been tossed by guys who wanted to look macho and got more than they'd bargained for, or by guys who really did want a macho dog and didn't think their particular pit bull measured up. In either case, I too was sorry. I've heard too many horror stories about pit bulls to think they're suitable as pets, but of course that isn't their fault! As for the name, I'd suggest choosing a new name for this one and saving Fervor for the next one, since by then the name will have lost much of its current connection to this particular dog. I believe in the importance of connecting with your pets---I always choose birds on the basis of whether they come to me when I look at them---but I've had several cats who took their time warming up, then became extremely devoted. So I'd say that ultimately, your feeling for the dog should tip the scales, because it's likely that s/he will come around.

themanicgardener said...

Our local shelters let us take home pets for a trial period, so you can return them if they don't warm up to you. Not possible in Iowa?

As for your delayed Big Announcement, I've guessed it: You're pregnant!

themanicgardener said...

This is at least as funny the second (or fifth, I forget) time around.