Friday, August 7, 2009

Difficult decisions

Charlie, the straw yellow lab my husband and I took in

This is the last clear picture I got of Charlie, the stray lab puppy Michael found Wednesday morning. I took it yesterday evening with my cell phone, while we were on the way to pick Michael up from work. Charlie had ridden about half the trip in the backseat before deciding to ride in the front seat like a person.

At the time I knew I was leaning toward taking him to the shelter, and I actually wondered if it would be the last picture I'd take of him.

But what really made up our minds for us was when Charlie pushed right through the baby gate yesterday evening and followed us down into the basement, where he proceded to chase the cats. This has been the cats' domain since we moved into the house three and a half years ago — Emma was always too scared of the stairs to try going down them, and it was pretty easy to discourage Grace from trying it when we got her. (She has a bad hip and it probably would be too difficult for her at this point anyway.)

We have two cats, which have been with me since long before I met Michael. Prince, my all-white, odd-eyed (one blue eye, one gold) cat is deaf. He's pretty adaptable and has learned to live with, and I think even like, the dogs. Cleo, on the other hand, nearly died of feline hepatic lipidosis (where the cat stops eating and the liver fails as a result) when Michael and Emma first moved in with us. When we added Grace to the family, she managed a little better, primarily because by then she had a basement all to herself. But she was really upset when Charlie invaded her space — six hours after we took him to the shelter, she still keeps looking over her shoulder and won't come upstairs.

Don't get me wrong. We're not quitters. We loved Charlie and would have kept him, even with all the other work he required. That much training is admittedly intimidating, but it wouldn't have stopped me from keeping him.

But I can't risk the life of my cat, who has been with me for eight years now, because of a cute puppy face.

So our decision ended up nearly making itself. Perhaps for that reason — or maybe because Michael was with me, or because everyone at the shelter was so nice about it — dropping Charlie off was a lot easier than I thought it would be. He was excited about the new place, for one thing, and everyone there loved him so I knew he was in the best possible place to find the best possible home. He did whine when we left, which made me sad, but I think he'll attach just as quickly to the nice people there and to his new owners when he gets adopted.

One final comment: For the record, and for anyone who is worried, please don't — we literally took him to the best (in my opinion) no-kill shelter in the city. I was ready to keep him and call them every day until we got him in, but luckily I talked to a couple of nice ladies who were willing to reserve a kennel for him when one opened up, and even gave us an extra day when we were having a hard time deciding what to do. This shelter makes a point not to take too many and get overcrowded, and it's a happy place despite the semi-caged environment. The volunteers spend lots of time with the dogs and cats, and the profiles of each pet that they list on the website demonstrate how well they know them. They also take the time to ensure every pet goes to the right home for them based on their personalities.

I know Charlie (they're keeping his name, by the way) will find a good home with this shelter. In fact, since the yellow lab is unofficially the Colorado dog, they are expecting he'll be adopted out almost right away (once his 10-day waiting period is over — they have to give his owners a chance to find him). They'll train him, and they'll note in his file that he's a major flight risk, so that he doesn't go to someone who is likely to lose him. We're going to call and check up on him — maybe even visit him — and if for some reason he isn't getting adopted, we'll reconsider our decision. But I think Charlie is well on his way to finding a great home.



At August 7, 2009 at 7:08 PM, Blogger Reddunappy said...

charlie is a cut Lab, he will find a good home.

At August 8, 2009 at 9:31 AM, Blogger Anna said...

I agree. :-) He'll find a good home.


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