Thursday, May 19, 2011

Is There a Doggy eHarmony?

Seems that the recent spate of bad dog-luck is extending into our search for a replacement for Puckett. Winston's rescue organization non-sense and Snoop's cat-test failure both sucked, but they'd mostly appealed to Donna rather than me.

Recently, we'd found Mook. When we first visited, my initial thoughts were "this guy's too big" and "Donna would never be able to control him." So, I'd sorta written him off almost immediately. Unfortunately (not under normal circumstances, but in this case, sort of "yes"), the rescue-coordinator that was seeing after him was the same one that we got Cira from after Lana died. She had pictures of Cira as a puppy and her siblings that she wanted to show to us. So, while she and Donna looked through her computer for the pictures, I was left to commune with Mook. Unfortunately, that was long enough to let me see something in him I liked that I hadn't seen in the others.

After we left, and we walked into Snoop's cat-test failure, I found myself less than disappointed that Snoop had failed. Snoop was a nice enough dog, but, he hadn't stirred anything in me like Mook had. So, it left me with a reason to contact Mook's rescue-coordinator and ask "can you please cat-test him". She was happy to do so. 

That request was made Sunday evening. I've been waiting, cautiously hopeful, since then. Today, the result of that test came in:

We did the cat test.  I picked up Mook and took him to Kitty City.  [The Evaluator] was there and performed the test.

[Evaulator's] Write-Up:
Mook is too interested in cats for me to feel safe about suggesting him for a home with cats. He viewed a cat thru a wire door and barked intently and loudly. He did re-direct easily for a treat somewhat easily and focused on me when I asked him to sit. This was positive. When I put down a circular, plastic cat toy with a fake mouse in it this REALLY seemed to interest him, so much that he bloodied his mouth playing with it trying to get the mouse. He became VERY fixated on this toy and the fake mouse.

I suspect strongly that a cat that moved quickly at all would catch his interest and he would give chase. I think that he has a strong chance of hurting a cat (perhaps unintentionally) by chasing/catching. If a cat hissed or scratched back he may go after it and hurt it. He may retreat but from what I saw with regards to his interest in the cat via barking and VERY strong interest in the small fake mouse, I suspect he has a decent sized prey drive.


My current dog, Jack, and my deceased dog, Dylan, are/were also very interested in cats and at times acted similar to Mook.  They were around a cat at my parents, but they never hurt one.  I agree with [The Evaluator's] description of the events that took place, but I am not sure I would rule him out of your home - because of your past relationship with AFH.  We know you care for your animals and would not risk anyone getting hurt.  Mook's website postings will be updated to no cats for other adopters.

Should you decide to try Mook, you will need to make a lifestyle change (keeping the cats and dog separate, etc) indefinitely to keep the cats safe.  This type of change is certainly not something everyone wants to do.  And, you can't risk not knowing where the animals are and forgetting to shut a door or gate to keep the cats separated from Mook.

When Mook first arrived, he did not play well with other dogs and was a complete pain-in-the-ass with his jumping/humping, so I see hope for him, but hurting a cat is not something anyone wants and it would make sense if you decided he is not the dog for your family.  If the prey drive is there, the training won't change the behavior and things may not still work out in the long run.

Please let me know your thoughts.

My thoughts? Ugh... My thoughts were split. The emotional part of me that Mook had grown on while Donna and his coordinator looked for pictures made me want to risk it. For better or worse, I have a strong "executive function" to my thinking processes. For as impulsive as Donna tends to be, I tend to be deliberative. So, even though I wanted to take the risk, my rational side said, "no, not a good idea." So, with a heavy heart, I wrote back to Mook's coordinator:

Dunno if you remember our house. We live in a two-story duplex with a semi-finished basement. The bedrooms are on one floor, Donna's work-space is in the basement and the main floor is where day-to-day living takes place. I'm not sure how we'd be able to partition the house such that we could ensure no bad "accidents". It wouldn't be fair to either Mook or the cats, even if we could partition, as it would mean keeping one or the other mostly segregated from the human occupants of the house. For me, that would probably only be marginally better than kenneling. While it might be ok for a short-term fostering situation, I wouldn't want to make it a permanent thing for a dog that likely has the best part of a decade left on his clock and cats that have the best part of half a decade left on their clocks.

Ugh. Seems our dog-luck, with the exception of finding Cira, is at a low, lately. Who knows, maybe with the luck-run we'd had in finding Lana, then Puckett, then Cira - all with next to nothing in the way of compatibility issues - we ran through our fair allotment of dog-luck and need to "recharge" it.

I'm feeling like I need to find the canine equivalent of Match.Com. =)

The part of me that he grew on while you and Donna looked at Cira's picture, make me want to take the risk. However in good conscience (i.e., my internal "voice of reason"), I don't think I can. I don't want to put him through the disruption of trying to integrate him here and then, if that fails, having to put him through the disruption of putting him back into fostering.

Have you any suggestions on how we get our luck back (since there is no dog version of Match.Com)? I mean, the run of three (Lana/Puckett/Cira) made it seem like it wasn't unreasonable to expect to find a bull-type that would work and that "spoke" to us. Just been a lot of disappointment, post-Puckett.

It sucks. Mook is a really awesome dog with a lot of potential. Unfortunately, right now, Mook isn't a dog I can take the risk on. When I adopt a dog, I want to pretty much know that we'll be his furever home.

So, I guess the question stands: is there a Match.Com for dog rescues. If there isn't there damned well should be. I think I read, recently, that something like 1-in-600 dogs that ends up in shelters/rescues/etc. ever get placed. Between basic compatibility issues (such as getting along with incumbent pets), the whole "is this my dog/am I this dog's human" question and finding rescue organizations that are worth working with (I've found several good ones and, unfortunately, a couple really unpleasant ones, over the years), trying to do the right thing and going the rescue route is hard. The experience makes me really understand why it is that people, looking for a dog, don't go the rescue route. Finding a puppy is just easier, and most people are all about "easy".

Right now, I just feel soul-punched. I miss Puckett. It feels like "my dog is dead" in a much more significant way than just the fact of Puckett's passing. It feels like there's not a light at the end of the tunnel. It's particularly weird given that, in my life, I've seen five dogs to their end. This is the first time I've felt like this is my end with dogs. Half the time, I feel like the dogs we're looking at are more for Donna's benefit than mine.