Friday, September 11, 2009

Kathleen Adopts

Cisco was my loyal companion, my confidante, my writing buddy, my dear friend. He joined our family as a puppy, and we got him mainly for our daughter, who suffered with migraines. She says Cisco was her salvation. Australian shepherds are active, smart, protective, and devoted to their people. Cisco wasn't perfect--didn't do well with young children, had a mind of his own off leash--but he loved me unconditionally, and it broke my heart when we had to put him down at the age of 13. I love dogs, but I wasn't sure I wanted another one.

Several years ago I wrote a novella called Waiting For Mom that featured a heroine who ran a pet adoption program. I got the lowdown from friend and fellow writer Connie Brockway about being a foster mom for dogs. What a terrific program.
Another friend--my daughter's sister-in-law--has been fostering dogs, too, taking the time to work with her charges in whatever discipline they're lacking. When the grandkids started
wishing for a puppy, I could feel my resistance dissolving, especially when they got Grandpa on their side.

But we agreed, no puppies. Been there, done that, got the chewed furniture. When I was a teenager, I used to say I was going to adopt rather than have babies. So many children, not enough homes. "We'll see," said Mama. And she did, of course. Three childbirths. She knew me.

Well, here's Beauty. I started cautiously peeking at the local pet adoption web sites, and when I saw her picture, something clicked. I told my daughter (who says she's having dogs rather than children, and she means it) about her, and she contacted the foster mom. Before I knew it, Elizabeth and I were headed for a Petco adoption event. It was meant to be. It's been only been about a month, but she's family. We bonded immediately. Brought her home the same day, but we had 2 weeks trial period to make sure we were right for each other. The kids named her Black Beauty.
She's about a year old, and she's amazing. Gorgeous--silken coat glistens like a raven's wing. Knows all the basic commands, perfectly house trained, great on and off leash, plays ball, loves kids, shadows me, walks me, listens to me--what a joy!

The agency we used is Homeward Bound of Minnesota. Just look at all those dogs. (There's a cat page, too.) Each one is
described in detail. You have to fill out an application, and you do pay for the dog, but it's a donation to the program, which is non-profit. The dog is neutered and completely vetted--vaccinated and treated with all the usual preventive stuff. Many of the animals have had more extensive medical care, and that figures into the cost of the animal. We were told that there's an over-abundance of Labs in our part of the country and that black dogs are the ones who often end up getting put down in the pounds or kill shelters. (Homeward Bound is no-kill.) Beauty is mainly Lab, but the consensus is that she has a touch of Dobie in her.

Here's the greeting she got from the youngest grand at the end of her first day of kindergarten. She was thrilled to find Beauty waiting for the bus. And Beauty was thrilled to have her kids back home. Thrilled to have a home.

She was a stray. Homeward Bound rescued her from the pound. She's so we behaved, we know she didn't run away. And she's so well trained, we can't imagine anyone letting her go. But there's been a run on shelter space with the downturn in the economy, and there are some wonderful animals waiting for homes. We're glad Beauty found ours.

And see, Mama. I did adopt!

Time for more pet talk. Any other adoptive pet parents riding with us? Tell us about it. I'd love to answer any questions about our experience with pet adoption. And thank you, Cindy, for pointing us to The Animal Rescue website this morning. Click this link and then click the purple button to make a no-cost donation of food to a shelter.


Lou Gagliardi said...

I wish I could adopt any animal. I love dogs and cats (cats a little more--something about their independence), but sadly my stepdad had cancer and we can't--even a goldfish would kill him.

So good to you, Kathleen for adopting Beauty. She is a lovely dog, and looks like a great companion.

Twisted Sister Meg said...

I love when people adopt! My DH's 3 kids were less than 'perfect.' We live in the country & closest to a major highway --the dump house. I wish I could keep them all. Rocky & his litter mates were tossed into our creek to fight the coyotes, feral hogs & other critters. Rocky is one of the smartest dogs we've ever had. Chloe, a fawn Dobie, I rescued from an abusive home. Boomer--Shar Pei/Black Lab is almost as lovely as your Beauty! The wonderful staff at OKC Embassy Suites rescued him & I packed him in the car.
Thank YOU for sharing your story. I hope you inspire others to adopt from shelters, & not just the puppies.

Cindy Gerard said...

Kudos Kathy and I'm so glad you found your wonderful Beauty and that she found you. I can't imagine life without a dog or a cat - or, in our case, maybe both and maybe more than 1 of each :o) - in our home. They give us so much more than we give them.

For those of you who can't adopt a pet, there's still a way you can help shelter animals and it's FREE! All you have to do is go to this site:
Just copy and paste this into your yahoo or google address line since the link didn't fly or go to my website,, click on the links page, scroll down to incredible causes and get to the site from there.

Once you get there, simply click on the purple button and you provide something like .6 of a bag of pet food to the shelters. You can even have it set up so you get daily reminders so you don't forger click. The food is paid for by the site sponsors. It's a great way to help animals in need until they find a home.

Cindy Gerard said...

Oh - I forgot to mention: The little ones are ADORABLE!!!

Helen Brenna said...

Good for you, Kathy! I had this feeling you'd end up with a dog in your life again and Beauty sounds perfect.

With 2 dogs and 2 cats, my house feels full, but if I ever do want another dog I'll be adopting. There are so many wonderful animals out there that need homes.

Great pics!

GunDiva said...

Beauty is very aptly named - what a gorgeous animal.

The best dog I've ever owned was Jake, a dalmation from the rescue. The kids and I had him for eight years before he went into kidney failure and we chose to have him put down. He had a hard life before us, getting shipped from shelter to shelter, but was an instant member of our family, and I couldn't watch him slowly die from kidney failure.

My step-dog is also a rescue dog, a beautiful mutt named Allie-Bird. My in-laws are dog snobs and will only have purebreds from breeders - there's no talking them into getting a purebred from a rescue (like I did with Jake) - which is quite a point of contention between us. I'm glad I got the "good" son who believes in dogs from rescues! I'll never have a dog from a breeder - there are just too many good, loving dogs in shelters who need good, loving homes.

I'm glad to see so many people are "rescue" makes my heart happy.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Thanks for the link, Cindy! I added it to the post. I'll bet our riders will click like mad today and bookmark the site like I did.

Kathleen Eagle said...

TSMeg: Back in our ND ranching days, we lived in one of those dump off sites. Our house was close to the road, and people would do that to their unwanted animals--and to us--all the time. My hero in RIDE A PAINTED PONY also lived near the highway and found himself rescuing animals. Imagine that! (Writers have the privilege of turning such grist into the ingredients for stories that just might touch a few people in a good way.)

Hooray for Meg for being there for "throw away critters"!

Kathleen Eagle said...

I'm listening to the broadcast of an 8th year memorial of 9/11 and lighting mental candles as survivors pay tribute to those who were lost.

Candace said...

Good on you, Kathy, for adopting a dog. And lucky you, too! If your Beauty has a bit of Dobie in her that's enough to make her one very smart, very affectionate, very loyal dog, as well as a beautiful one. They aren't called Velcro dogs for nothing.

And, yes, I'm a tiny bit prejudiced in favor of the breed. The DH and I have had Dobies for years. We had to put our beloved Xena down last year because her arthritis got to the point that she couldn't stand. Those times are always the absolute worst time to be a dog mommie and I always swear, "Never again" but my two current beauties, Gabby (4 yrs) and Lola (1 yr) are sleeping on the rug under my desk as a write this.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Hi, Candace!
I'm so sorry you lost Xena. What a beauty she was. I've always been so impressed with how well your Dobies behave. I can't claim any credit for Beauty's good manners, but she reminds me of your dogs in that way for sure. And a touch of Dobie is a touch of physical elegance along with the attributes you describe.

Christie Ridgway said...

Oh, welcome to your Beauty! So glad your grandkids convinced you. Kids must have dogs.

We are so much enjoying our cat, Goblin, that showed up at our house a year ago and is the queen of the roost. We don't know how she ended up a stray, but were thrilled to have her after losing our beloved Harlow (yellow lab, 13 yrs old). Our new yellow, Hank, we "re-homed." As the 3rd dog in his family, things weren't going well for him. But he's great with us! He's just 6 mos. old now.

catslady said...

Our second dog was a rescue and we had 17 fantastic years - she was definitely one of those special ones - never gave us any problems and was wonderful with kids or anyone. I also currently have 6 inside cats which were all strays/ferals. I miss having a dog but I also take care of outside ferals (females get fixed and food for everyone lol) which takes up all my time and money :) I do have a wonderful rescue granddoggie though that I get to babysit often lol.

Elizabeth said...

I love how you keep saying that I "say" that I will not have kids. I have been with John 11 years I think I have been remarkably successful in keeping my defiant teenage promise to MY mother to never have kids. Hooray for me! As for Beauty even though I was initially against the idea of a dog at the Eagle home because you guys have entirely too much on your plate I thought that the trial period was important. It was obvious to me that you were smitten with her but adoption is not always that easy. Beauty was a special needs dog and you were a special needs home so it worked perfectly. I like the trail period policy because it makes me feel like the rescue is really concerned with finding the BEST home for the animals not just the quickest home.

I love the Animal Rescue site and I have been clicking for years. I also like to buy their gift certificates for birthdays!

Michele Hauf said...

I got my black kitty, Maxwell, from RPAW (Rescued Pets Are Wonderful). He is such a lover! Always hugging and snuggling. I couldn't imagine anyone not wanting the sweetie.

Looks like your grandkids will keep your new dog busy playing and fetching!

Kylie said...

Great to hear about your adoption, Kathleen! We always go the purebred puppy routine but two of my sons have always gone to a shelter to adopt their dogs. All have become great pets with the family. My oldest has a lab/retriever mix with abandonment issues, LOL but what a fantastic dog around young children!

Pamela Keener said...

I am now a rescue Mama to a stray 10 year old Golden Retriever, a neglected 11 year old German Shorthair Pointer & one crazy domestic shorthair cat.
I will also never again go the purebred route. I will look toward Golden Retriever rescue or the local Humane society when it is time. I got my first Golden from a breeder and had to help her to the rainbow bridge in April. Lady was a wonderful dog but there are so many others that need our love. I wish I had the money and space to save lots more. I have also been clicking on The Animal Rescue site for years.

The pictures of Beauty & your grandchildren are adorable!

Love & Hugs,

lunaticcafe said...

We've been looking on all the local adoption sites for a younger dog. It took some convincing- the kids and Flyboy really have been wanting one and I have finally agreed that now is the time. The kids are old enough now to help out and I am not so busy these days. Now if I could just convince Flyboy that I also need a kitten to go along with the dog:) He keeps nagging about my terrible allergies. Isn't that what benedryl(sp?) is for? So we keep looking and I know that we will find our next family member soon.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Welcome Elizabeth! (That's my girl. Mind of her own and then some.) You've been such help with this quest, and I always appreciate your wisdom and experience in the animal department. (She has 3 dogs, a ferret, a parrot and a lovebird. Maybe there's a 3rd bird. Hard to keep track.)

Have I mentioned my little girl is studying to become a police officer? Nobody messes with EE.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Luna, keep looking. You'll know your pup when you see her. Or him.

We have cat allergies in the Eagle's nest. Benedryl doesn't do it for everyone. And they seem to get worse. Clyde never used to have allergies, but he does now. I'm the only one who's allergy free. I finally had to find a new home for my sweet Bengal. Hard to let him go, but it was either the cat or the family. But it worked out for the best. A friend's grandmother, living alone, had just lost her cat and was happy to take mine, who's a real companion type.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Wow. So cool to see so many great adoption stories. I just got an e-mail from Elizabeth. Says she's volunteering with Homeward Bound tomorrow for adoption day at Petco. Yep, that's my girl.

PJ said...

Kathleen, congratulations on your new family member. Beauty certainly is a beauty. I love the photos of her with the kids.

My last four dogs have all been rescues. Smokey, my beloved 13 y/o chocolate lab had been with me since she adopted us at the county shelter when she was about 10 weeks old. She crossed the Rainbow Bridge in June so now it's just Cassy and me. I hadn't planned to adopt Cassy two years ago. Hadn't even planned to go to an adoption event. I just stumbled upon it while in Charlotte with friends and she stole my heart. Then I brought her home and she stole Smokey's too. They were inseparable for the next two years. I'm sure I'll get another dog (Cassy needs a playmate) but not a puppy. I'd like to find one closer to Cassy's age (she'll be 3 next month) and it will definitely be another rescue adoption. Cassy came from Project HALO in Charlotte, NC. They are a no-kill/non-profit group of caring volunteers that does a wonderful job of rescuing, rehabilitating (when necessary), socializing, training and finding forever homes for animals. That's where I'll be looking for our next family member.

Kathleen Eagle said...

PJ, that sweet face looks familiar. And what a terrific case you make for adoption.

It amazes me that so many black Labs end up in shelters. They're such great dogs. But MN is full of Labs and Golden Retrievers. Hunting dogs, dontcha know.

We live in a doggie neighborhood, and everybody's drooling over Beauty, especially when they see her respond like a soldier on parade. "She was like that when you got her?!" She wasn't the only well-behaved young dog we met at the adoption event, either. She was just the one meant for me.

PJ said...

Kathleen, Cassy is my second Black Lab. Actually, she's a Lab/German Shepherd mix. (Velvet (named because her coat felt like black velvet)was my first.) Both of them have/had the sweetest dispositions you can imagine. Our nickname for Velvet was "circus dog" because she was always moving, jumping and doing crazy acrobatic maneuvers. She died of cancer at the tender age of six but she packed a lifetime of joy into every one of those six years. That dog never met a person that she didn't love and left trails of smiles behind her everywhere she went.

Cassy is the same way, except that she's more laid back. If possible, she's even sweeter than Velvet was. Not only does she love every person she meets, she also loves every dog she meets. And, like your Beauty, she adores children. She and my 3 y/o grandniece have grown up together and she will let that child do anything to her...anything...with her strongest reaction being an enthusiastic kiss. I've now had four Labs or Lab mixes. They are wonderful, wonderful dogs!

Pamela Keener said...

Way to Go Elizabeth!
As a retired police officer in PA. I wish you good luck it can be a rewarding profession at times but a real downer at others. All in all I wouldn't have done anything else.
Love & Hugs,

Kathleen Eagle said...

Thanks so much, Pam! I'll make sure Elizabeth gets your good wishes. She works full time for Hennepin County probation (Minneapolis) and is a volunteer for one of the sheriff's departments. She's been going to school full time, passed her post test with flying colors, completed her Associate's Degree last spring and will have her BS within a year.

There are almost no off- reservation Indian police officers--one or two in Mpls-StPaul--but there are more American Indians there than in all of North Dakota.


I'm so glad you adopted and that it worked for you. While the idea of adopting appeals to a lot of people, not everyone has the temperament or ability to care for a "pre-owned" pet.

We currently have two dogs and a cat - all were adopted at a shelter. A couple of facts: black cats and dogs are the last to be adopted (we have a black lab/pointer mix and a blac cat); 25% of dogs in shelters are pedigreed animals. (My husband adopted a purebred Rottweiler many years ago.)

Please keep us posted on your new puppy's progress, Kathleen.

P.S. Just so everyone knows, Kathleen occasionally adopts people too. In the late 1980s, she took me under her wing and introduced me to RWA. Within a few years I was attending conferences and became president of the New England Chapter for a few years (name then was Murphy). Thanks for the rescue!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Linda, it's great to see you! Oh, what a joy to have a visit from an old--I mean *longtime* friend. And you've gone from Murphy to Faulkner! Pop fiction to literary?

Isn't the thing about black dogs and cats incredible? I had no idea until I started my adoption quest. PJ's Velvet had the perfect name for the black Lab's coat. Soft and shiny as a seal.

As Elizabeth said, the 2 week trial period with Homeward Bound is a real plus. They're forthcoming about any problems an animal has, but that trial period really sealed the deal for us. Can't beat a deal like that. Heck, kids and husbands don't come with a trial period!

Debra Dixon said...

I was out of touch on Friday so I'm late to this but Beauty looks faboo!

Labs are such a great dog for a family.

She looks like she's fitting in perfectly.

I too think we'll go the adoption route when the time comes, which I hope is years and years. Sweetie is my shadow and hearts will be broken if something happens. I should have her 6-7 more years. I hope.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I saw a new "10 smartest dogs" list recently, and I think Labs came in at #7. I've had several of the breeds deemed "smarter"--Border collie is still #1--but none was as quick to learn as Beauty. Maybe it's that touch of Dobie.

Deb, every time I see your red and green quilt I think of holidays, and I smile out loud.