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Zen and the Art of Dog Adoptions... or something like that -- !!


Okay, so I'll admit, Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" came to mind when thinking of how to explain my ever-improving adoption techniques.

Briefly, from what I remember of Pirsig's book, a father and son take a motorcycle ride through areas of Montana, and along the way the father questions values of society and, more specifically, of the rider of the other motorcycle the father is on a trip with.

The father believes in a vigorous understanding of his motorcycle as it operates, and uses that understanding and maintenance philosophy to prevent break-downs and incidents with the bike. The rider of the other motorcycle, however, just runs his bike flat-out, with no concern for the intricacies of how the bike works, nor respect for it -- and when the bike breaks, it does so expectedly from neglect.

This philosophy, too, can apply to dog adoptions -- !!

When it comes to dogs, especially puppies, I am extremely careful in their placement --

-- the reward isn't the placement of the dog itself, but in the successful placement of the dog in the long-term.

With adults, most returns and surrenders occur within the first couple of days -- the dog is more work than the people thought, it doesn't get along with their cat, the people did too quick an introduction to their other dog and things are a mess, etc.

With puppies, however, problems usually show up much later, like a year or two after the placement.

With puppies, specifically pit bulls, their temperaments are very puppy -- playful, sweet, and not really defined.

The crux with pit bull puppies, though, is that while they're very, very CUTE, their temperament doesn't usually begin to develop till a full year in to their growth --

-- and by temperament, I mean their level of dog aggression.

So, let's look at the unfortunate realities of most pit bulls -- they were at some point bred to fight other dogs -- and that "gameness" that the "breeder" so desired was furthered in his "game line" of his so-called "kennel".

What this means to you and me, law-abiding, dog-respecting people, is that those cute steel-blue puppies up for adoption are just that -- and they will be just great, until a year goes by --

-- and then, we need to be ready to address any innate dog aggression that may develop naturally in the pup.

Some pit bulls develop NO dog aggression -- a gift of sorts --

-- whereas others develop it to the point that the owner feels like the pup is waiting for something to spark it off.

Both these levels of dog aggression are okay, to me, as long as the dogs are placed in the right homes.

To clarify, dog aggression and human aggression are totally separate issues, and human aggression is not a breed trait, nor should it be tolerated.

For me, I am always leaning towards placing pure pit bulls in only-dog homes, and I discuss these reasons with the adopters in the application process.

The reason I emphasize only-dog homes with a lot of pits is that not everyone is willing to crate their dogs when unattended -- and this is a critical mistake of many pit bull owners.

As a responsible owner, you must be ready to quickly and effectively break up a fight if it occurs -- and if you're not home when a fight occurs, one or both of the dogs will likely die. This is the harsh reality of irresponsible ownership. This is what experienced pit bull owners know, and why they swear by their crates.

Crates are not cruel, nor are they punishment to the dogs.

Crates, instead, to many dogs are their "safe zone", where they can go to eat their dinner or their bone, without anyone bothering them, dog or person alike -- !!

When looking at homes, I also look at the family dynamics -- are there kids involved? Are these kids high-energy and in the dog's face every moment? Is the dog going to eventually tire of this behavior and snap at the child?

These are questions I look at -- do I shun homes with kids? Absolutely not -- instead, I look for responsible, respectful kids, whose attitudes come as a result of great parenting.

So, as you can see, the adoption process is anything but over once the adoption occurs --

-- what really upsets me is when people adopt a pup and I never hear from them.

Sure, I can call people and ask how their dog is doing, but that will likely lead to a canned "good" response --

-- instead, I want to see the pride in adopters as they send me picture and email updates, showing how their pup is great in socializing, agility, or just plain hanging out on the sofa -- !!

With the rescue, too, there are many avenues to show off your pup, like the forum, pbsmiles, and the feedback section on the site.

What I have depended on more and more lately is prospective adopters proving what great future parents they can be --

-- through participation on the forum, and face-to-face interaction at the meet-and-greet puppy parties and adult dog outings, there is so much more that can be shown than on an application.

Also, remember that dogs, and pit bulls, specifically, are under ever-increasing pressure in an increasingly litigious society that wants to solve all its problems through suing people -- if law school taught me anything, it taught me to NEVER be the defendant in a lawsuit -- !!

By responsible, thought-out placements, I am hopefully avoiding the homes where doors are left open and dogs get out, only to kill a neighbor's cat, get hit by a car, or run away, never to be found.

Do accidents happen? Sure they do -- but I think they happen less in responsible homes -- !!

So, for the sake of these innocent souls, there are many people working constantly on getting them the best homes possible --

-- and we're succeeding!

Thank you everyone for your patience in this process, and remember, we're doing what we do so these pups' journeys, which are often difficult up till rescue, are joyous thereafter.

Thank you for reading this -- I hope it explains the adoption process more, and I think the process is a better way to get these pups in great homes -- because in great homes, both the pup and its people are happy -- !!