Sunday, May 22, 2011

Love at First Click: My Internet Best Friend

With a little help from Facebook, websites, and friends on the internet, I have a new love.  Losing Dallas just a month ago, I wasn't sure I wanted to look at dog adoptions right away -but  rather enjoy the chance to be away from home longer, not have to take walks in the rain and so on.  That lasted a few weeks.  I miss the companionship, I like walks in the rain, and I love having a dog.

Dudley grew up in Missouri and was rescued from a kill shelter by For the Love of Labs, an organization of dedicated volunteers that was started when someone saw a photo of a yellow lab that was to be euthanized at a high kill shelter the next day.  The lab was taken off death row, given a forever home and a new life and the organization was born.  Based in Connecticut, they have volunteers nationwide.  Their rescues are listed on PetFinder.

From a dedicated For the Love of Labs volunteer, Michelle, I received photos and descriptions that included Dudley.  Immediately I likened this dog search by internet to dating and job hunting using the same vehicle; they all involved resume-sharing, exchanging likes and dislikes, unrealistic expectations, photos that might do more harm than good, and first meetings that could be disastrous.
After completing the application, I quickly heard from Cathy, the volunteer in Missouri who was overseeing his placement with a foster family and his ultimate adoption. Much like online dating, which I have tried and failed at, I was captured by one photo and description, but worried about the fit, the personality and the needs (this was, after all a male dog, not at all unlike male humans).  
I almost backed out when I saw a forlorn photo of him and I thought "if he isn't a happy dog, how can we be a match?"   Who wants to be the cheerleader all the time?  I've had that dating experience and there isn't much in it for the cheerleader.  What I hadn't considered is that this poor dog had been on death row, saved by volunteers and spent time in multiple homes since being dumped by his owner.  What did he have to look happy about?  Maybe what he needed was someone to love him.
Dudley checks out the pond
I meditated and prayed about it and waited for a sign.  Sure enough, I got more than one.  I was about to get a new best friend.
Rescue adoptions can involve home visits, a contribution to cover transport, shots and other expenses, and answering some serious questions about how you plan to care for a dog for the rest of its life (example:  "What happens to the dog if you move?").  Volunteers go to considerable time and expense to place these animals who encountered bad luck that wasn't their fault.  They are fostered and carefully described on the website, cared for, given medical treatment and determined to be ready for adoption  before they and their families are nurtured through the process.

Cathy gave me regular progress reports and arranged transport on the Alpha Dog Transport, a dog transport program that safely gets rescues from a temporary situation to their new families.  He was to ride from Missouri to Pennsylvania where I would meet him for the first time.  
I did what new moms-to-be do: I hoarded stuff.  Leashes, collars, a tag with name and address, food, treats, toys, a bed.   I found a used dog crate, knowing I probably would never use it for my already housebroken 2-3 year old boy.

Meeting the transport involved a 2.5 hour drive each way, arriving at 4 am.  Denise, another volunteer, kindly volunteered to wait at the pickup location starting at 3 am until I could arrive about 4 am.  What a dedicated volunteer!
In the parking lot of a gas station, I tried to get a good look at him - but it was 4 am!  I confirmed he was brown and very short and his whole body wiggled when he wagged his tail.  This was far better than any strange cyber date.  

Now that he's home, he is doing a lot of sleeping, trying out all the rugs and the cool temperatures of the wood and stone floors.  He has started sentry duty in the backyard, carefully marking all the spots, tolerating the much larger and more energetic black lab next door, and barking at a neighbor her sun hat and dark glasses as she approached the fence.  He's enjoyed his neighborhood walks and has met lots of dogs.  He is so good with other dogs, never aggressive or rude.  He has marked the 'hood and sniffed it to his little heart's content.  
He's learning to sit (this really means he is getting a lot of yummy freeze dried duck treats courtesy of my sister...he isn't getting the "sit" thing yet).  But when I ask him, leash in hand, if he wants to go for a walk, he wiggles every part of his body and barks!  It's great.  

I'm thrilled I have a companion.  He's just a really flexible guy who wants to live his life in the calm. I might be able to take some lessons from my new cyberdog.  He's certainly a match that was only possible because of the wonders of the internet and the willpower of a lot of dedicated volunteers.

If you are thinking of an adoption, please consider a dog who has been rescued.  They are ready to be loved, and the volunteers help ensure that the dogs are a good fit for you and your family.

Lucky the frog
Great Blue Heron above the pond
One of Dudley's new jobs is guarding the pond from the great blue heron who has been in the yard today, presumably with an eye on those juicy frogs that I liberated from the international market (see blog Lucky Frog Liberation) since he has already enjoyed the fish.  His other job is keeping the rabbits out of the garden.  Since we lost Dallas last month, several baby bunnies have arrived, getting ready to eat all of my flowers and vegetables. They will likely be moving to the other side of the fence now that Dudley is in charge.  

As with any relationship, Dudley and I have a lot to learn about love and trust and comfort with one another.  So far I think I've fared better with my cyberdog than internet matchmaking or job hunting via the internet.  


For the Love of Labs
Next time a pet-loving friend has a birthday, or marks a special occasion, or you just feel like doing something nice, consider making a contribution in their honor.  For the Love of Labs could use the support, and your donation will go a long way toward helping a good dog find a loving forever home!


Alpha Dog Transport


  1. Congratulations! You have saved a life and found a good friend. I've had several rescue dogs and they sure can be wonderful. That you thought about this so much shows the caring that made all of this possible. Now you have a great partner to share adventures in the outdoors!

  2. A wonderful story. I lost my dog Roscoe last year to cancer, and I knew that our surviving dog Lulubelle would have to have another companion. We found a puppy online and adopted him not long after Roscoe died. His name is Zeke and he turned out to be a huge St. Bernard Mix. I truly believe he saved Lulubelle's life. She was so sad after Roscoe died. And I think he saved the rest of us too. Congratulations on your adoption.

  3. I hope you and Dudley continue to settle into a lovely relationship. We have been dog sitting and the owners just picked up Woody and I already miss him! You get so attached to dogs. You take care. Hope you are enjoying your summer! Donna Pettit