I’m not sure what the cause is or who is to blame, but I’m
finding it distressingly difficult to find a good dog these days. We’re
generally in agreement that, should we stumble across the right dog, we’re ready
to take one on. But there are no mutts to be found, and I have a proclivity for
mutts, a fondness for cheap, smart dogs. The pet store at the mall has
tempted me with a $900 "AKC registered" pug (it was looking straight at me).
But I can’t justify plunking down that kind of cash on a store-weaned pup.
I’ve been to petfinder.com and searched through all of the
suitable breeds: pugs and cairn terriers top the list (medium-small, quiet and
with attitude/personality). Sifted through the Post-Standard classifieds
a few times. Haven’t found much. Owners/breeders live too far away
(Pennsylvania, New Jersey), or they still want a big chunk of cash because their
dogs are pure. And then there’s a local agency that places animals in "good"
homes, but the screening process is so rigorous that I haven’t had time. I’m all
for pet rescue, but they want to inspect your property. They want a narrative
report on all the pets you’ve owned and what became of them. They want the
name and number of our landlord (who has approved this decision, tyvm).
They want evidence that you can fill a water bowl and clean an oopsey without
swearing. And so on. The entire system seems constrained, bureaucratized.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the solid reasons these filters and
protections have come to be standard. But it’s so much different than I
remember it twenty years ago. [In the picture: Tony, one of the best dogs ever.
Price: five bucks at the Isabella County pound in 1989.]
I suppose some of those differences result from urban controls
versus a rural lack when it comes to being uptight about free-range animals.
Few free-roaming domestic animals in the parts of Syracuse we’ve lived in.
A couple of aimless cats stroll about but few unclaimed dogs. I suppose
the same was true in rural lower Michigan twenty years ago. There we could
always find a dog. The Sunday paper was loaded with ads. Just place
a few calls, drive around to a few houses, and come home with a new dog.
It was easy. At least I remember it that way.
I’m sure we’ll find a dog eventually, and if luck is on our
side, it’ll be the right one, a good one–healthy, smart, even-tempered,
friendly, trainable, loyal. But I’m still feeling uneasy about the outlook
for finding a mutt around Syracuse. There just don’t seem to be
many. If you hear of one or have other ideas, let me know.