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Lots of things can happen when we get to S/R. At our shelter, we are in a separate section until we are ready to go to new homes. From our observation, several things happen. We are in this special area, known in our shelter as "back dogs" for different lengths of time.

We need to wait for our people to find us and to make arrangements to take us home again. This is called reclaiming. There is a certain amount of time that our people have to contact S/R to do this. If our people do not find us or contact the S/R, the S/R becomes "our people" and can then find a home for us.

Sometimes we have conditions that need treatment. We may even be in other parts of the S/R for some kinds of treatment. Millie and the dogs that came to Maine with her were in "isolation" for a few days to make sure they were healthy. Others may be in "quarantine" or away from other animals for special reasons.

Some of us are really scared when we come to the S/R and need time to get used to being there. After all, we were taken from what we knew and put into a strange place. There were new people, not just one or two people that had been our people, but many people. The new surroundings had different smells and noises. We each had our own space with blankets, toys, food and water. But it was different. Some of us just go along with things, but some of us want to get away from this new place and do not come forward when someone comes to see us. Or some of us may snap or growl because that is how we know to react to something that is different. The people at the S/R are very patient with our reactions, but it takes different amount of time for us to feel comfortable.

And then we spend time with staff who try different things with us to see how we react, called "temperament testing". This is supposed to tell whether can get along with cats or kids or other dogs. Or if we have problems that mean that we need more time in the back dog area. That's OK. It is better to have problems addressed at the S/R than to have problems with a new family.

And then we may need to have surgery so we cannot have puppies. (Both Millie and Parsi had this.)

Then we move from "back dogs" to the front area where people can come in to meet us and take us home.

Millie: I was in the "front dog" area for several weeks. There are always people around looking at you. (Well, not always, but certainly much of the time.) Some of us bark a lot to get people's attention, some of us stay at the back of our kennels because we are scared, some of us just wait and see who will want to meet us. I really was scared outside of my immediate kennel, so it was hard for people to get me out.
Parsi: I was never a "front dog". Helen walks dogs at the shelter, including with "back dogs" and knew when I was going to be put up front -- what she calls "moving up". And she made arrangements to adopt me. Guess I just "moved out".

What happens is that people who want to take us home fill out something called an application telling the people at the S/R about themselves and how they are going to make us part of their family. They meet us, and other dogs and other people in the family come to meet us.

Millie: I met Tess in April 2011, the older (12 years) pit bull in our family. I was OK with her. I had been around other dogs who felt that they had to be boss. Tess did not like me. I think that she thought that I would take her people from her. But I was going to live with Erik and she lived with Helen. So Erik still adopted me. Tess and I see each other once in a while. She does not attack or growl at me anymore. I just stay out of her way. There was a second dog living with Krista/Helen/Dick, Donovan, a German Shepherd retriever mix. But everyone knew that we would get along, so I did not meet him until a month or so after I had gone home with Erik. And we got along fine. He agreed with my ideas about Tess.
Parsi: I met Tess in January 2012. She let me know right away that she was the boss. Who cares? I just let her think she's boss and figure out other ways to get what I want. Tess was really depressed when I met her because Donovan had passed away and she really missed him. She was ready to have another friend in her family. Maybe the fact that I was a male made it easier for her to accept me.

So as you guessed, our meetings with our potential people were successful. Sometimes several people come to meet dogs before the right match if found. That is important. There is a people for every dog, but it sometimes take a while to find the right match.

All materials copyright © 2008-2018 by Helen Zidowecki unless otherwise noted. - -

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