Rescuing Ralph: My Adoption Story

March 1, 2011

Meet Ralph.  He’s a 7 year old foster pug that was relinquished from his owners because they were “too attached to their child,” as if having a child and a dog are somehow mutually exclusive.  He is one of hundreds of dogs put in shelters everyday and his story is not unique.

I have been wanting to adopt a pug since moving out to Chicago 6 months ago.  I was having a hard time finding “the right fit,” and didn’t realize that for purebreds (even if they aren’t documented) there is usually a waiting list.  After several attempts to adopt that fell through at various organizations, usually based upon the sheer amount of stairs to my apartment or my lack of transportation, I was about to give up hope.  I also had worries as to whether I could handle a dog with limited finances and limited time.  Getting a puppy from a breeder would cost double that of an adoption ($300 for the puppy, plus at least $300 for vet bills, etc.)  and training a puppy could be nearly impossible and be a drag for my roomies.  It was quite a quandary- but I oddly had some faith that a solution would present itself.

Someone eventually made the suggestion that I should get in touch with a Pug Rescue and offer to foster- at least that way I could fill my need for a pug, and if it didn’t work out in the long term, I could still get my “fix.”  I found out that if you can get in touch with a rescue and offer to foster, you’ll usually get placed with a dog much sooner if there’s usually a wait.  My rescue is amazing- they offered to cover the expense of a leash and harness and cover the vet costs.  If I decide to adopt, I just pay the typically adoption fee.  Through fostering, I can have the joy of rescuing a dog from a shelter without any obligation if his personality would better fit with a different family who is looking to adopt.

Enter Ralph.  Ralph entered my life a few days ago and has made quite an impression.  In just a few days, I’ve experienced the heart-exploding joy of walking him around the neighborhood- impressing smiles upon random passer-bys as we go on morning walks.  I have also experienced the tremendous strength and compassion of those who do this work all the time.

I took Ralph to the vet yesterday- the president of the rescue called ahead to cover the vet costs so I, as a student, wouldn’t have to front the money.  Turns out little Ralphy has an infection in both ears, a yeast infection on the skin of his face (due to not being washed), and a bad tooth.  He needed immunization shots and a serious ear cleaning.  I was holding him on the table during the ear cleaning- and he collapsed in my arms. He had a reaction to the rabies vaccination and the vets were able to revive him with steroids and fluids.  I was a nervous wreck- I was totally attached to this little guy after just two days.

I sat there in the waiting room as they gave him an IV and eventually heard him wake up and start whining and barking- I knew he’d be fine.  I sat there, struck by how amazing life is (cliche I know), and also the resiliency of those who rescue animals.  This was my first experience- other people go through this time and time again to save animals. I can’t imagine what it feels like to take in a dog with unknown health issues, only to find out they cannot be saved, or to lose them during treatment.  I called the president of the rescue, and she did a tremendous job of comforting me, commending my bravery and relaying to “not worry about the unanticipated expenses,” as it usually costs more than the adoption price to get a dog healthy upon rescue.

An average dog adoption fee is $200-$300.  The cost of treating a myriad of unpredictable medical conditions to make a pet adoptable is anywhere from $350-$600, plus the rehabilitation and socialization that goes into making them suitable to adopt is immeasurable.

If you want a pet- adopt or foster.  Otherwise, support your local rescue or shelter, it saves pets, but I think- it saves people too.

Ralph and I are very happy- and we are very much looking forward to making an impression on the neighborhood on our next morning walk.

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