Hey There Baztards,
How is everyone's summer going?
I'm happy to report that mine has been uneventful for the most part. I've gotten a tan, lost a few pounds, seen a movie or two, revamped the website, got published on a couple of sites, and bought myself one of those male rompers. You know, nothing major. Summer sessions are coming to an end at work, my trademark has finally moved on to the next phase, and I'm excited that The Manfriend will be coming home very soon.
OH... I also adopted a second dog. Well, I rescued a dog, to be more precise. And it's been crazy ever since. How did I forget to mention that? Anyways, want to hear about how a boy once named Sky became the newest member of the Kern clan? Well then, grab yourself some popcorn and a drink, sit back, relax and keep reading.
For quite a while now, I've been on the fence about getting a sibling for Jack. I always felt bad leaving him home alone while I was at work. And without a sugar daddy, taking him to Doggy Day Care every day had become quite an expense, not to mention a schlep. But as much as I wanted him to have a partner in crime, I knew Jack didn't like when other dogs in the neighborhood would come anywhere around me. So the idea of a second dog in my home kind of frightened me a bit, but always stayed in the back of my mind.
I guess a major part to the dilemma was figuring out what kind of dog would be a good match for Jack. In my head, I wanted a female to balance out the testosterone level in the house, and I wanted the second dog to be smaller and younger than Jack, with the hopes that he would become more of a protective, big brother rather than combative, like he is with the dogs in my complex. In the end, I was leaning towards another Chiweenie (Chihuahua-Dachshund mix) or possibly a Malchi (Maltese-Chihuahua mix).
Now I'm not gonna lie here. I have gone into a pet store or two and looked at different dogs. I may have even held a couple. Most of the time, the people working there tried everything in their power to get me to buy their overpriced dogs, including lie. Now don't get me wrong, I respect anyone who gets their hustle on to make bank. But something never sat well with me. I had heard all the stories about puppy mills and how dogs are treated there, as well as in the stores. I also heard stories about people who bought dogs from pet shops that ended up being really sick. After much soul searching, I decided this was not the avenue I wanted to go down. I preferred to adopt from a rescue or shelter. After all, I did adopt Jack from one, and he ended up being the great love of my life. So what could go wrong?
As luck would have it, different options started to appear, via Facebook. For instance, through a mutual friend's page, I saw that there was a dog being fostered on Long Island that needed a forever home. She was really cute and I was definitely interested. However, there was the small issue of getting out there with Jack to meet her, and more importantly, would they get along. The woman fostering her was very accommodating and was willing to meet us anywhere, but at that moment, I was still on the fence about what I wanted.
Around the same time, I started noticing that my main feed on Facebook had posts from groups liked by my friends. One of these posts was from a site that listed dogs in Animal Care and Control of New York (ACC), which basically are the city-run shelters. This particular post was about a female Chihuahua mix named Apple, who was about the same age as Jack. She was on the list of dogs about to be put down, and for some reason, it struck a nerve in me.
I started to look into Apple's back-story, and it turned out she was brought into ACC six days before she was scheduled to be put down. There was a time crunch to rescue her, so I immediately jumped into action and called ACC of Manhattan, where she was located, only to be sent straight to voicemail. I also emailed them, only to be emailed back four hours later that Apple was not publicly adoptable, and the only way she was to be saved was if an animal rescue decided to take her. I found it so odd that I was saying I wanted her, and they were basically telling me no. They said I needed to reach out to a specific group of rescues, and have them get her for me. By this time, it was after 6pm, which, according to the site I found Apple on, meant she was most likely put down.
I was absolutely distraught when I got home that night. I checked the site I found her on to see what her status was (they have pages of the dogs both saved and put down each day). There was no update on her, so I decided to contact the list of rescues to get an update. I was up until 3am calling and emailing all of them. The next morning, one of the rescues emailed me back to let me know that Apple was rescued and sent to Massachusetts to a foster family. Recently, I got a message through Facebook from Apple's foster mom, and she is doing very well.
My day dealing with Apple definitely stirred up something in me. I was completely disgusted by the way ACC handled the situation, and basically didn't care what happened to her. I started going on the site that I found Apple every single day to see the list of dogs in ACC. It became even more important for me that if I did get a second dog, it would come from a shelter or rescue. I really started to consider adopting that dog from Long Island.
While on Facebook, I found a post from a Long Island rescue about an adorable 5-6 month old female Chiweenie that I immediately fell in love with, and that needed a home. I reached out to the rescue, to find out that there was a whole adoption process involved, including a six page application, a house inspection, interview, and a fee anywhere between $300-$1,500. I actually considered it, and even went as far as filling out and faxing the application to the rescue. They messaged me through Facebook to tell me that nineteen other families were interested in the Chiweenie. At that moment, I had a revelation that completely changed the game.
Through my experience with Apple, I learned that ACC was a kill shelter, meaning if a dog didn't get adopted after an undisclosed set of time, it got put down. And the time is different for each animal. But with a rescue, they save and keep the animals until they are adopted. I mean it says it in the title... it's an animal RESCUE. So why was I competing with nineteen other families and jumping through hoops for this one Chiweenie that clearly is wanted and safe, when there were dogs at ACC that were at death's door? What did these dogs in the shelter do to deserve that fate? And how can I allow that if I can change it?
In that moment, I decided that I wanted a shelter dog. I contacted the rescue and told them that I withdrew my application. I also contacted the woman on Long Island and told her what I had decided. She respected my decision, and in the end she adopted the dog that she was fostering.
I turned my attention to the site with the dogs at ACC. One day, I saw a dog named Sky that was at Staten Island's ACC. Sky was a three-year-old male Papillon-Border Collie mix, and was 16 pounds (Jack is 13). According to his bio, he was a stray found on the streets of my neighborhood, and didn't have much time left. He was everything I didn't want for a second dog, but after seeing his picture and watching his video link, I fell head over heels in love. Plus he had the cutest underbite ever. BTW, I need to point out that Sky was brought in to ACC on a Wednesday.
By that Saturday, Sky had not yet been adopted. So Jack and I took a trip over to ACC to meet him. Sky was so much smaller in person than I expected, and his picture didn't do him any justice. He was so much cuter, and extremely friendly. And lucky for me, he and Jack sniffed each other and went their separate ways, which I was told was a great sign. I decided on the spot that Sky was coming home with us. We went back into ACC to fill out the paperwork, and Sky became Gus-Gus (In case you are wondering how I came up with that name, Jack and Gus-Gus are the names of the mice in Cinderella, one of my favorite movies).
I was told that I had to wait until the following Wednesday to bring Gus-Gus home because he needed to be microchipped and neutered. And because one of his testicles hadn't descended, his surgery would be more complicated. But other than that, I was told he was in perfect health. I was also told he would be bathed and cleaned up because he was matted and stank like urine. It was clear to me by the pee stains on his paws that the only times he was let out of his cage in the last three days was when people came interested in adopting him.
My opinion of ACC, which already wasn't that high, got worse after that. In the days between adopting Gus-Gus and bringing him home, I noticed that his bio was not taken down from the list of dogs at ACC, and on top of that, people were pledging money for his rescue. I found it more disturbing that nobody could explain why it was still up or what happened with that money. Also, when I picked Gus-Gus up after his procedure, there was no cone around his head to stop him from licking his stitches. And to just sweeten the pot, they did not bathe him or do anything about his matting.
But despite all that, he was out of that hellhole. Gus-Gus was coming home, and that's all that really mattered.
I wish I could say that my story ended there, but the reality is that was when all the craziness really began. Despite the fact that Gus-Gus was now in a loving home, he was giving me issues. Every time I'd try to walk him, Gus-Gus didn't seem to know how to walk on a leash at all. He also would try to run away every time we got to the gate of my complex. It was as if he hated my building for some reason.
On top of that, he was acting out. On his first night, Gus-Gus decided to eat my cell phone. And when I say eat, I mean he cracked the screen with his teeth and proceeded to eat the pieces. I had never seen anything like it. He also bit both Jack and myself during a random moment on the couch. There was no provocation or anything that startled him. It was truly random. Things got so bad that I began to wonder if I had made a mistake.
Coincidentally, somebody from ACC happened to reach out to me via email to see how things were going. I responded and told them what was going on, only to get a response that the person emailing was in charge of cats, and she would forward my message to the right person. After having my message sent to two other people who couldn't help, I finally received a phone call from the "behavioral specialist" at ACC, who also happened to do Gus-Gus' intake. In total, I spent about four hours texting on the phone with her and sending her videos of Jack and Gus-Gus playing.
The conversation with her was an eye opener for many reasons. She proceeded to tell me that maybe my two dogs didn't get along, and I should consider "rehoming" Gus-Gus. Of course, this was based off of two or three 30-second videos. When I asked why nobody noticed the tension when I brought Jack to meet him, she had no answer for me. She also explained to me Gus-Gus' anxiety towards my building. It turned out that he was not some stray found on the streets of my neighborhood, as described in his bio. The truth was that his previous owner lived in my complex and was evicted, leaving Gus-Gus behind in the apartment. When I asked why nobody felt the need to tell me that important piece of information when I adopted him THREE DAYS AFTER BEING BROUGHT IN, there was again no answer. The only thing she kept repeating was the term "rehome." In fact, what I got out of that conversation was that it really didn't matter because I was going to get rid of Gus-Gus in the end, so I should just bring him back to ACC. Can you imagine?
After that conversation, I realized that ACC is nothing more than a scam. They don't care about the animals in their shelters. Have you ever looked at some of the online pictures of the animals up for adoption there? Some are covered in dirt or have their fur matted. Do you mean to tell me that they can't find anybody who is willing to volunteer by grooming these animals to give them a better chance at adoption? Or why don't they train the staff to do that stuff since they are sitting there anyway? If they really cared, they would do everything in their power to get their animals adopted. They would perform outreach afterwards to help make it a smoother transition for both the pet and owner. Instead they are about a quick buck, and will do anything, including lie, to get a dog out of there. They also seem to have no issue with putting an animal down rather than giving them a chance of finding a new home. It absolutely disgusts me. Needless to say, I never spoke to the "behavioral specialist" again.
So how's Gus-Gus doing these days? Well it's definitely been a struggle since getting him. He has had extreme anxiety, and has given me a hard time with just about everything. He would fight me to go in his crate. He's eaten his crate cover twice, and even broke the latch off the crate, ate through my kitchen cabinet and took all my cleaning and laundry products out of it. He has peed and crapped all over my kitchen on several occasions, and destroyed my kitchen floor. Needless to say, I will not be getting my security deposit back.
He's been going to training the last few weeks, and he's doing amazing. In fact, he's a natural, and picks things up rather quickly. Plus, it's been sort of a bonding thing for us, which helps at home. He and Jack seem to be getting along with each other these days, although it involves a lot of barking, fighting over toys and jealousy when I pay attention to the other. They are very much like brothers.
Gus-Gus has also been dealing with a UTI since joining the family. Apparently, he wasn't in perfect health when I adopted him. IMAGINE THAT… ACC lied about that too! I've been dealing with urine trails and accidents all around my apartment. He has been to two veterinarians already, and has been on two different antibiotics over the last four weeks. He actually finished his last pill yesterday, and has a follow up visit this coming Friday.
But despite all this, the fact that he is a money pit and more than what I signed up for, I can't help but love him. Trust me, I have my moments where I worry that I made a mistake, but when he stares at me with that face and that underbite, he melts my heart. He's a giant mush-ball of love, and I adore him. He's definitely one of the family now, and I could never give him up. And even if I ever did decide to "rehome" Gus-Gus, you best bet he will not be returning to that death sentence known as ACC.
You know, when I adopted Jack, nobody prepared me for what was to come. And yet, we somehow survived. So when I finally decided to add a second dog to the Kern household, I knew it wouldn't be easy. In reality, nothing could have prepared me for the insanity that came with Gus-Gus. Having a two-dog household has definitely been intense at times, but knowing that he was saved from death is reward enough.
I learned a lot through this experience. Would I recommend everyone run out and get a dog? Unless you are up to a pet and all that comes with it, probably not. But if you do decide that you want to take that plunge and add a furry friend to the family, I recommend rescuing a dog from a shelter. Do your research and ask all the questions. Sure, they may not be as cute as the ones you see in the local pet shop, and they will most likely come with baggage, but think of the life that you will be saving. And the love you will receive from that pet. There really is no greater feeling.
Now if you excuse me, the Kern-als and I are about to sit down and watch Sharknado 5. Yeah, I'm not sure why either.
Until next time...
To see the "at risk list" of dogs at ACC: http://nycdogs.urgentpodr.org/