Delaying the Dog Decision

How Petfinder's App Made This Columnist Momentarily Blind

The past two weeks, I've been obsessed with adopting a dog.

A self-proclaimed “dog person” with two cats, this decision has been waiting on the sidelines of my life for years.

Now, finally, the Wards are buying a house — final steps pending — and when we settled on it, “rescue dog” appeared in the very next breath.

Our stipulations: adult, small enough to travel, good with children and felines, preferably local.

It remains to be seen if such a perfect dog even exists, but my heart knows we need a proper fit. It's only fair to future Fido.

The obsession grew once I downloaded the free Petfinder app.

It will whisk you away if you're not careful. Petfinder is the authority on adoptable pet listings, and everyone lists with them — making its app a virtual home to 326,021 adoptable pets from 13,763 nationwide (as of Saturday).

An easy interface allows you to narrow your search to dogs, cats or “others” (rabbits) by breed, age, gender and size; view photos and descriptions; “Favorite” ones that interest you for easier access; share via email, Facebook and Twitter; and more.

I quickly learned I could consult the app to keep boredom at bay. You know you're addicted when you're checking listings during dinner, at red lights and in grocery lines.

Because I've always loved the grace of Greyhounds, I searched for them in the beginning, but found none in the immediate area and started searching local instead.

Then I discovered Gonzo.

For 10 years I've known a Rat Terrier named Xena, and she has clearly been an ambassador for her breed, because black-and-white Gonzo immediately sold me. (I know it says he's not good with kids, but maybe he can be taught to like children, I told myself.)

By night my husband and I began imagining him in dog isolation at Geauga County's Rescue Village, wanting to bring him home sooner and sooner — maybe even before we're in the new place in March, we thought. If we want Gonzo, we should go through the process with Rescue Village as soon as possible before someone else scoops him up, right?

I emailed for more details and even almost went to visit him last week, twice, to see if he was as great as I imagined him face to face.

The first time the shelter was closed.

The second, my husband and I took a long walk beforehand. “Are you going to visit Gonzo today?” he asked, to which I replied, “Well —“

Then together we identified my greatest and most valid fear: that Gonzo, untested with cats and uncomfortable with children, may not respect Muppet, Sistercat, or the family we're hoping to start.

Had I somehow lost track of our stipulations? Not necessarily. Still, in the very next breath we decided to make the cats' comfort in their new home an immediate priority.

It was a difficult decision to give Gonzo back up for adoption, but I soon felt a tremendous weight lifted. In the best interests of us all, it was the right thing to do — and if he finds another forever home first, good for him! There are plenty of others on Petfinder still waiting.


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