Dog Blog: The Temptations of PetFinder
Today I want to warn everyone about a very dangerous website I visited the other day. It's called petfinder.com.
I discovered Petfinder many years ago. They are an organization dedicated to working with SPCAs, humane societies, and rescue groups to find homes for animals. Anyone with computer access can search their website to find their dream dog, cat or barnyard animal. There are 17 alpacas available for adoption in North America today through Petfinder, as well as 215 goats, 13 geckos, 137 snakes, and innumerable dogs and cats. There are a total of 321,946 pets, most with appealing photos and descriptions, just waiting for that susceptible human to take a look.
On Wednesday, I was that human.
I didn't mean to find a dog. At least, not for myself. My partner and I have agreed that, ideally, we shouldn't own more than two dogs. Each. That puts me at my limit, but she still has an opening.
J is not an indiscriminate dog lover the way I am. She's one of those people who has a breed, and to her, Chinese Cresteds are the only dogs worth having. But they don't often turn up at our local SPCA. So on Wednesday, as J was packing to leave for San Francisco, I was surfing the Web to see how many hairless dogs were available in that city.
There were a few right in San Francisco, and several others within what I considered a reasonable distance. Personally, I was bucking for a pathetic little Chinese Crested/Dachshund cross named OCShelter A097732 whose listing only stated that she was in danger of euthanasia. But J was being more logical and didn't bite at the idea of checking out homeless dogs in another country who might not even get along with the dog she already owned. So I typed "Vancouver" into the search engine, and "dog" instead of any specific breed. I was just playing, honest.
Scanning the first page of results, I noticed a rescue group, Bully Buddies, that I was familiar with. They specialize in rescuing pitbulls...so why was the dog they were advertising listed as a collie? I clicked.
The photo that loaded showed a brown dog that was indeed more collie-looking than pitbull, though by no means a purebred of any type. It wasn't an especially attractive picture...but then I read the description.
"Meet Stevie! This gorgeous little 9 month old collie mix has spent most of her young life in a rather isolated area, so she is just getting used to all the new sights, sounds, and smells of the city. Due to this, she is quite timid and unsure of new people and places, but is quickly learning that the world is not such a scary place after all! She gets along fabulously with her foster siblings who consist of two other canines and one feisty feline. She is very respectful of the cat, and is quite content to let him rule the roost! Stevie is clean and calm in the house, great in her crate, and as quiet as a mouse. She is a very sensitive dog who is super smart and is always aiming to please. She will need a calm, confident leader who will continue to work with her socialization. She loves her walks (especially if they happen to be near water she can play in!), bonds closely with her people and is a really big fan of snuggling! She has a beautifully silky coat and wow is she ever nice to snuggle with...she is so incredibly soft and smooshy that she literally melts in your arms. :) If you think that Stevie might just be the sweet girl you've been looking for, please email us at for more information, or send us an application."
Oh my God! Soft and smooshy!!! My dream dog is soft and smooshy, and sensitive, and loves her crate and gets along with everybody, and I live in an isolated area and I'M a calm, confident leader who could help build her confidence...
I emailed promptly, and before nightfall I was on the phone with Michelle, Stevie's foster mom. It was pretty obvious that in spite of living so far apart, she thought that Stevie and I should hook up. It sounded that way to me, too.
I'm a little uncertain about adopting a dog without meeting her first. Although I am sure that Michelle is telling me the truth, she's had Stevie for less than a week. I know from experience that sometimes a dog is on its best behavior until it settles in and becomes comfortable, and then the warts begin to show. I'd feel better if she'd had the dog for a month or two already. But I can't expect her to delay adopting her out for that long.
Another factor is Happy, who arrived at my home for foster care the same evening I talked to Michelle. Happy is a three year old Heinz 57 (she's being listed as a Rottie mix) who still has a young puppy tagging along from a recent litter. Although I didn't feel an immediate connection to Happy, so far she hasn't put a foot wrong. Well, that's not true; she tends to jump on counters looking for food and has no apparent training, but she hasn't displayed any behavior that can't be easily fixed. So far she's GREAT with other dogs and the cat. She's not shy, but not pushy, either.
But it's early days for both dogs, so stay tuned to see who wins a permanent placement in this kennel I call my home. In the meantime, if you've got a few minutes to spare, I dare you to go to petfinder.com and check out Pet Expertise's tips on finding the perfect dog for you.
Shane Windatt, CTC, CPDT