• May 22, 2024

Wishes, Hopes, & Prayers

Wishes, Hopes, & Prayers

Wishes, Hopes, & Prayers 891 1024 Animal Care and Control

A career in animal welfare is rewarding and fulfilling. We know we are making a difference in the lives of animals and people, helping keep pets and families together, reuniting lost pets with their families, and finding new homes for pets who were lost and never reclaimed or whose families could no longer keep them. 

Placing pets with new families requires a delicate balance of understanding the animal’s needs and the adopter’s wants. Sometimes people gravitate to an unusual or striking looking animal and base their adoption interest on the animal’s appearance. Later, they find that the  pet’s personality is not compatible with their lifestyle and the adoption fails, and the animal is returned to us or given away to another home. Cycling through multiple homes can be disruptive for the animals, who just want a family to call their own and remain with for the rest of their lives. That’s why we use conversation-based adoption counselling to help match adopters with the most suitable pets for their lifestyles.

There have been times when I thought we had made a perfect match between a dog and an adopter, only to have them return it. Other times we call them to see how the adoption is going and they tell us they’ve given the animal away to someone else. Many of us have learned not to do the follow-up to protect our hearts from disappointment. With wishes, hopes, and prayers we remember that in most cases, the adoptions are successful and there are lifetime matches made between pets and their families.   

I often think of a case like this from 30 years ago when I led an animal shelter in Kansas. We had a dwarf miniature chocolate poodle whose already little legs were much shorter, like a dachshund’s. He was completely adorable and resembled the little wind-up dog toys that you wound up, would walk a few feet, raise their head and bark, walk a few feet, raise their head and bark, and so on. We knew he would be adopted right away just because of his unusual and compelling appearance, but wanted to make sure the adopter was not just swayed by his cuteness.  

When we opened for adoptions, a grandmotherly woman came in and saw him right away and wanted him. She had hardly spent any time looking at him and getting to know him. We talked with her, and she stated she was really committed, and this was the dog she wanted. She adopted him, but I couldn’t help feeling it was an impulse adoption and we would get the dog back after the novelty wore off or he made a mistake in her house.  I wished that the adoption would be successful. 

My wishes came true! She brought him back several times to visit, and to show off the little sweaters she knitted for him. They were absolutely devoted to each other and were a perfect match. I still smile whenever I think of them. 

A few months ago, I spent a day in our Downey ACC with Tabetha, our outstanding Adoption Partner coordinator, who is responsible for networking our animals to rescue groups so we can get them on the road to their forever homes. One dog she was networking was a very sweet female German Shepherd mix, who was extremely affectionate and begged for belly rubs. She captivated me, so I researched her background in our animal database to learn more about her history. I discovered that she was only a year and a half old and had already had three homes. She first arrived at our Baldwin Park ACC as a newborn puppy with her littermates. We placed them into a foster volunteer home until they were eight weeks old and ready for adoption. She was adopted to a man, who later gave her away to another man because he was moving. The second  man later found he couldn’t keep her, and brought her to our Downey ACC. Despite all this disruption, she hadn’t lost her love for people, and I knew she would be a fantastic family member.

Several days later I learned that she was adopted! I called the new owner because I thought she would like to know her new dog’s history, and to hear how they were getting along. The dog was doing fine, and the owner was happy with her. She was glad to learn about her dog’s history and receive her puppy pictures. As we were talking, she told me that she would have to move in a year and hoped she could find a place to rent that would allow her dog so she wouldn’t have to give her up. My stomach tightened, and I was reminded why I would regret doing a follow up call. I hope that this dog isn’t forced to adapt to a new home again. 

In February I visited our Lancaster ACC and fell in love with Cappy, an adorable one-year-old yellow retriever – Labrador or Golden mix, it was hard to tell. He pressed his body against the wire fencing at the front of the cage so I could rub his ears. He closed his eyes in delight and leaned into my hand as hard as he could. I knew he also would make a great family pet, and I looked up his history. He, too, had been shuffled between homes in just his first year. His first owner surrendered him because he was too big for his apartment and his landlord wouldn’t allow him. He was adopted and returned because the second owners, in their 70’s, said he was too strong for them to walk. I was delighted to learn he was adopted later that day. For two months I thought about Cappy and debated whether I should reach out to the new owner and risk hearing that this dog is no longer with them. But I couldn’t get him out of my mind, so I called the owner to see how things are going. They are very happy with Cappy, who has another doggie friend and 10 fenced acres to run and play. My prayers that this adoption was a good match, and this wonderful dog has a lifetime home where he is cherished and loved, were answered.  

It is remarkable that these dogs can still be so loving despite all the disruption in their lives. It is a testament to, well, being man’s best friend. I know I will continue to see animals that touch my heart, and I will continue to struggle with wanting to know about how they are doing in their new homes. There will be times when I will steel myself to make the call and wish, hope, and pray for good news. I will think of Cappy and the little chocolate poodle and remember that there are matches made in heaven every day at animal care centers. 

 

Marcia Mayeda 

 

You can subscribe to Marcia’s blog here: https://animalcare.lacounty.gov/directors_blog/   

The Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3 charity that raises money to support DACC in its mission of saving animals and keeping pets and families together. Learn more at www.lacountyanimals.org 

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