In this ongoing series, I'll be discussing the process of transforming my dog Poe from shelter pup to the ultimate outdoor adventure companion. Please seek professional advice and talk to your veterinarian or trainer before hitting the trail with your dog.
Continued from Trail Dog Part 01: An Introduction
The Big Day
The day of the big meet had finally arrived and I was extremely nervous about my introduction with Poe. At this point in the adoption process, I had already been rejected by a couple of animal shelters in Las Vegas and had yet to actually meet a dog in person. However, the dog was never the problem - I was! As mentioned in Part 01, a lot of shelters were hesitant to adopt to a single man, living alone. There was a lot riding on this introduction, since it was the first and only meeting that I had been granted after a few inquiries.
I arrived at the shelter on time and ready to meet Poe... and no one was there to meet me. After contacting the owner, I found out that she was running late because of the Black Lives Matter protests happening in downtown Las Vegas (this was 5/31/20). Her home was in the center of it, and she was dealing with multiple break-ins and vandalism. She had instructed a handler to bring Poe for the introduction and he would arrive shortly. Obviously, I understood and waited patiently, opting to pace nervously around the thrift store in the process.
A Home for Spot / Dog Junkies Thrift store
"A Home 4 Spot...has saved over 5000+ local dogs from being euthanized."
While I waited, I had the opportunity to learn more about the shelter (and attached thrift store) that I was hoping to adopt from. At the time of my visit, there were no dogs being kept on-site. but there were plenty of kennels available (roughly a dozen) and a large, outdoor play area in the back.
From the A Home 4 Spot web site:
"A Home 4 Spot is a volunteer-based organization that provides foster care and medicine while seeking permanent homes for abandoned dogs. Founded by a Las Vegas resident, A Home 4 Spot began operations in March 2009. Since that time, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has saved over 5000+ local dogs from being euthanized. Since the beginning of 2012, the organization has raised over $500,000 for the medical treatment of animals that would otherwise be killed."
During normal times, A Home 4 Spot participates in adoption events at the nearby PetSmart. However, this changed due to the pandemic and as of this writing, most of their adoptions are handled at their location on the north side of Las Vegas. This location serves as a thrift store (known as Dog Junkies) to help fund the shelter.
Dog Junkies is a small, cramped store that tends to get broken into quite often. With this in mind, I still highly encourage everyone to donate their gentle used items here instead of some of the larger, more corporate donation centers that ship contributions out-of-state. The need and demand in this part of town is high, and Dog Junkies does their best to serve their local community by providing new, gently used and vintage goods at very reasonable prices. You can also make donations directly through their website. Please, do not leave donations outside overnight - they will walk away!
The Meet - Finally!
After patiently waiting and learning more about the organization, the handler finally arrived with Poe. I sat outside in the play area outside and waited, while Poe was retrieved from the van. The door opened moments later and Poe ran straight to me! He snuggled excitedly into my lap, then gave me a growl when I reached down and petted his head. It seemed more of a nervous hesitation / warning than threat to me, so I didn't read it as a bad sign. He then spotted some birds and ran off, chasing them from one end of the yard to the other. For the most part, Poe ignored me - until I grabbed a ball! We played fetched for approximately five minutes before he got distracted again, and he eventually collapsed in the heat next myself and the handler. I petted Poe a few times, and he sniffed me quite a bit but wasn't overly affectionate or interested in me. I was just as nervous about the introduction as he was, if not more. The handler told me at the end of the meeting that he gave us a "C" and that the owner would call me with a decision. I left hopeful, but cautious. I'm normally an "A" student and wasn't sure what to expect.
Later, the shelter called me with an offer: instead of adopting right away, they proposed a 3-day trial, foster period. If it didn't work out and we weren't compatible, they would come and get him at any point during that period. If it did work out, then I could start the adoption process and he would stay with me permanently. I excitedly agreed to this - after all, it was a step in the right direction and much further in the process than I had gotten to date. I was open to anything at this point! The only thing left was to prepare my apartment for this temporary roommate (and to give my cat the bad news!)
Preparing My Pad
After informing Cali, my only other roommate, that she would have to share her home with a stranger, I set out to prepare my apartment for Poe. Anything that could easily be chewed was put away (remotes, shoes, dumbbells - okay, maybe not dumbbells LOL), and I purchased two gates to separate and contain Cali and Poe as they got to know each other. I wanted the introduction to be gradual, giving them the opportunity to smell each other before ever fully meeting.
After looking around, I settled on these gates from Carlson - the small door would allow Cali quick escape and entry from room to room. After all, this was her space that Poe would be invading. I wanted her safety and security to be top of mind. We went to bed that night snuggled up peacefully together, clueless to the coming maelstrom that was about to completely invade and upend our lives forever.
To be continued in Trail Dog Part 03: The Foster Days