Sunday, March 1, 2009

Blind Date

Yesterday we piled into the Mercedes, Xochitl assumed her favorite spot in the car, and we headed across the bridge and out of town.

cargoyle (that is, a car gargoyle)

The reason for the trip was to go meet "Casper", a dog we spotted on Petfinder last week. I've been cruising the site somewhat obsessively the past two weeks and he was one of the few profiles that invoked the response of, "That's him!" (and the only "that's him!" that actually turned out to be a male dog).

On paper and in pictures Casper was perfect. With a face somewhere between Paco and Honky Tonk, he stood on long legs and was pure white. Not normally awestruck by white animals, this guy broke my prejudices and forced me to acknowledge his sheer beauty. As a friend said, when I sent the picture along, "He looks like an inverse of Paco!" The description told the tale of a dog who loved everyone, including other dogs, and enjoyed car rides.

I began e-mailing furiously, though I understood there may be a delay since the rescue center was moving to a new location that exact weekend.

But by noon the next day I couldn't wait any longer, so I called. The resulting phone conversation was scattered, which was to be expected as they were still moving their operation, but I managed to explain our wants/needs/desires in a pet dog and left with a string of promises to photograph and cat test the dog.

Confident we'd found a true contender, I finally spilled the beans to my friends. I kept perusing the internet and visiting shelters, but suddenly every dog was a comparison to Casper. I knew it was bad, but I couldn't help it. Still awaiting pictures, we planned a trip to Fresno that weekend.

The drive down was so exciting. I exchanged texts with friends and Aaron and I made bets ("Okay, whoever can name-that-band first gets to rename Casper"). Located near the Fresno river, the landscape was beautiful in that Central Californian agrarian style. The orchards went on for what seemed like forever, and then they ended and there was the house.

Instantly I could see why we had never received pictures of Casper. The rescue was essentially a solo operation: there was one woman and thirty dogs. The chain link enclosures were small and the ground had turned to mud from the recent rain. The dogs were barking like mad, every one obese from lack of exercise, filthy from mud and, sometimes, feces. We walked the gauntlet to Casper's pen and there he was...

It's like when you go on a blind date and it turns out their profile picture was taken ten years and ten pounds ago. This was not the dog from the picture.

As we spent time with him out on the lawn, it was evident this wasn't going to work out. Yes, he was pent up, that's normal when you spend 23 4/5 hours a day in a small pen. However, that doesn't excuse a hard-mouthed correction.

Case in point, after we put Casper back we toured the rest of the dogs. I found one I fell in love with, though he would never work out in our house (too much prey drive). We took him out for fun anyhow. This dog had about 4 times the drive of Casper, was about 8 times as smart, and when he put his mouth on me a) it was gently and b) he cut it out when I told him to. By the way, this dog has papers if you're interested:

red smilin'

We left Fresno a little disappointed but also relieved. After the visit we had a much more firm understanding of what we want, what we don't want, and what kind of pre-adoption circumstance (ie. foster) is more favorable. Casper was instrumental in assisting those conversations. Even though he didn't come home with us, we still did play the "what if" game and fulfilled the bet...

"I'd name him 'The Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man'"

"No, Baby Beluga"


themacinator said...

wow. that's both distressing and sounds like a good experience- finding the right pacofillin or totallynewnotpacoatall is going to be so hard, and goign to take many shots. or shot fairs. JUST KIDDING.

Anonymous said...

Dang, I was hoping for a different outcome, but glad the trip was entirely fruitless. No bitey types for me, either.

LMW said...

Ewwww...visions of online dating. Did I tell you about the time I dated and Alien? No? What about the guy who showed up for 'coffee' with massage oil and a cheap bottle of wine? What about the guy who wanted a "Governor's wife"? ('Cause, of course he would one day be The Gov.)...sigh. Not fun, but quite entertaining, for everyone else.

Just keep trying, you'll find love when it finds you.