shopping for dogs: does this breed make me look fat?

I've been doing everything *but* spending time writing these last few days, but I'm not sure I'm better for it overall. I could say that my excuse since Wednesday evening is Rich has been using my computer, but it's not like his computer lacks a keyboard, internet connection and WordPad. I've just been spending my evenings researching dog names instead of writing. But I can work on increasing my wpd (words per day) a little this evening. In case he hasn't told you all about it, the Puddin' has been enjoying his much-anticipated game Bioshock. Being a giant chicken myself, I'm not such a fan of first-person shooters, but I have to admit that Bioshock is a really great game. As an observer, it's plenty entertaining and the details they have put into all of it are really commendable.

There is some wonky issue with the Puddin's DVD drive, though, and this revolutionary new game's installation disk so it would not install on his machine. He's been using my machine to play it, which means I'm relegated to his machine where the wasd keys are all worn down from RPGs and the pop-up blockers are working overtime.

All this effort to find a dog name on the internet is because we finally picked out a dog. Her name is Roxy - just like several other strays that were named when they arrived - so we've been searching for a new name for her. Having a dog named Sarah, we are trying to pick a name that won't necessarily match so many of our human friends. We have narrowed it down to a short list but I'll wait to unveil our chosen name until we've seen her again in the fur to see how it suits her.

One would think that getting a dog from the SPCA would be a one day adventure, but we've managed to drag it out to almost two weeks. Having little luck at the Norfolk SPCA, we tried the Virginia Beach SPCA. To adopt a dog from the SPCA, you have to fill out a form (of varying lengths and detail depending on which SPCA you go to), prove you have current vet records for your existing pets and do a dog introduction between your current dog(s) and the potential new dog. After the visit with Hailey didn't go so well, I wanted Rich to meet Roxy the German Shepherd mix that had done better with Sarah.

Rich and I went on Tuesday after work to visit with Roxy the shepherd mix and look around a little more. In the meantime, another Roxy had shown up on Monday - this one described as a doberman mix. Rich and I met with shepherd Roxy and she was okay but nothing that wowed us. We tried to meet with dobie Roxy and she was absolutely terrified to the point that Rich was concerned to even approach her without freaking her out (the kennel area is really loud). We were ready to just go home and the SPCA rep asked if we would be interested in a younger puppy. She really wanted us to see this pit bull mix puppy. My father has no use for pit bulls and that prejudice has rubbed off on me a bit, but we were willing to give it a try. Buster turned out to be much more boxer and not so much pit bull and was really sweet and playful. We thought this would be a success just as soon as we had him meet Sarah.

So Wednesday at lunch we took Sarah over to meet Buster. Total. Fucking. Disaster. Since Buster was under 6 months old (he actually wasn't but his paperwork hadn't been updated since the last time he had been brought in), we had to do the introduction inside on the linoleum tile. My poor Sarah was not very sure of her footing and Mr. Spaz was all over her. My sweet gentle giant of a dog is not aggressive at all and having to assert herself with a boisterous puppy was kicking her ass, literally. We gave up on the introduction after Buster sweeped Sarah's legs out from under trying to run under her while she was snapping and barking at him.

We also found out that Buster had a skin disorder that meant he may lose all his fur (funny, the first lady who wanted to get him a home so badly didn't mention that). At that point, after watching my precious elderly dog get knocked over and finding out that most of these dogs aren't what the staff say they are (because they're just desperately trying to get them a home), I was ready to take Sarah home and buy a gerbil.

We decided to look around one more time. The staff there are very insistent and I was starting to feel like I was on a used car lot where they would eventually ask me "what do I have to do to get you into this dog today?". The lady wanted us to look at a 4 year old mutt that was good with cats and dogs but her chart said "aggressive with kids". She didn't seem to think this was a problem because we don't have kids. Uh, yeah, because we'll never encounter anyone with kids in our house or neighborhood for the next 10 years of this dog's life. Sigh.

After that less than eventful dog introduction (at least the 4 year old dog didn't knock my dog down in the dirt), Rich asked if we could look at the doberman Roxy again. Maybe she would be less skittish outside. Wow, she was a different dog!

Well, no, she is still a giant chicken shit, but I can handle chicken shit dogs. Sarah was a chicken and now she's wonderful. The advantage was that since we weren't in the ridiculously loud and scary kennel area, dobie Roxy spent her time walking around outside and wagging her tail instead of cowering. She gallumphed around a bit like a young dog is wont to do and she came up and licked my hand. She sniffed Sarah and Sarah sniffed her and they had a very polite exchange. I could stoop down and pet a dog with each hand while they both smiled and wagged their tails. And my poor old dog could finally relax and lie down in the grass without constantly watching her back. Dobie Roxy was the dog for us. And it was no secret she didn't show too well in the kennel area given her skittish behavior in that hubbub. We went to the front desk to fill out what we thought would be one simple sheet of paperwork before we could take our stray home. But, unfortunately, it's not that simple.

Dobie Roxy had come in as a stray on the 20th. The family that brought her in said they couldn't afford her after having kept her for three weeks. If the family had kept her 30 days before bringing her in, she would have not been considered a stray any longer and it would have been a transfer of ownership versus possession. Since she was technically a stray still, the SPCA has to keep her for 7 days before allowing her to be adopted. That deadline would be up on Monday the 27th. We had to fill out a waiting list form for dobie Roxy to say that we wanted her and if her "owners" came for her they would contact us. But we still have to call on the 26th to say we still want her and haven't moved on to other options.

The next issue is she hasn't been spayed yet. They only do spayings on Mondays and Thursdays but they couldn't spay her yesterday (Thursday) because they aren't allowed to "alter" a dog in any way while it's still in the stray waiting period. There was debate as to if Monday was the cut off for her waiting or if Tuesday would be her release date, so they originally thought we would have to wait until the 30th to get her spayed and take her home. I've never bought anything in my life on layaway but apparently I'm going to get our next dog that way.

There are times when it pays to be persistent. I called again today to confirm the arrangements. The plan changed from calling on Sunday to confirm we want her to coming in on Sunday and paying for her. At that point they'll put her on the list to be spayed on Monday if there's still room. If not, they will want to keep her until Thursday when they can spay her. We'll see if that story changes again since their kennels are very full right now and they have some dogs doubled up just to conserve space. If they receive a lot of dogs over the weekend they may be willing to let her come home with us just to free up a "bed" for another homeless dog. I'm not holding my breath on that, but we'll play it by ear.

The good news is we have picked out a very sweet dog that gets along really well with Sarah and shows a lot of potential to be a fun loving pup. The family that brought her in said she was "under 1 year" old but that got translated in the paperwork to "1 year." Given the size of her paws and the remaining puppy fluff in her fur, I'd estimate she's around 9-10 months old. She's about 45 pounds now and will probably gain another 10 or so ... maybe 20 since she's pretty scrawny now. Remind me of this premonition when I discover six months from now we found the one doberman/great dane mix in all of Virginia Beach and she's nearly 100 pounds. But she'll be the sweetest pony in the neighborhood and all the kids will want to line up to ride her.

I'm willing to wait until Thursday to take her home if we have to, but would like to get her out of the Big House since it's stressing her out. She's a sensitive soul and too pretty to go to jail. Perhaps she will make parole by Monday. I know we're talking about a matter of days compared to the rest of her life, but looking for a dog at the pound is a tiring ordeal and I'll be happy when we're through with it. There are so many quality animals there that just need the right family to help them, hopefully we'll be happy with our decision. And for all of you who made it this far through my epic tale of dog survival, we'll be visiting her on Sunday and I'll be bringing my camera. I'll post a picture of her once we get home!