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Finding Charlie
A stray joins The Bark’s family
Charlie A stray joins The Bark
Charlie, n

As many of you know, losing Lenny, our 18-year-old Border Terrier mix who passed away late last year, was terribly hard for us. Although we have three wonderful female pups, I longed for a small, scruffy boy dog. I also knew that if we found one, he had to be able to successfully cohabitate with our girls. I wasn’t concerned about our Pointer, happy-go-lucky Lola, but the needs of Kit and Holly, a pair of scrappy but shy Beagle-mix sisters, had to be considered.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I spent an inordinate amount of time online, scouring Petfinder, Adopt-a-Pet, and rescue and humane sites. I also visited local shelters and attended adoption events. Strangely I could not find many dogs with the appearance and temperament I was looking for. There were more females than males, and a few of these had fear issues, especially men-centered. But then, a few days before Christmas, I did my usual search for “small, male, young, JRT” and was rewarded with this charming photo of a 15-pound, year-old pup named Boca.

By this point, I had extended my search nationwide, which was an education in itself. For example, I found that some rescuers didn’t approve of the fact that we already had three dogs. A woman in Texas told me that, while they could arrange an out-of-state adoption, they would not consider adopting a dog into a “pack,” even though we more than met the other criteria, including having a fenced-in yard and devoting oodles of time to walks and doggie adventures.

Luckily, Boca was being fostered in Auburn, Calif., only two hours away. I immediately emailed them with a flurry of questions and information about us, as well as the kind of life we could provide for him. Once again, I lucked out. Not only did I get a fast response, but I was the first to express an interest in him. He had been assessed in his foster home and did well with (hatless) men, other dogs — including Greyhounds — and cats. I broke the news about Lola, Holly and Kit; and got their ok for a visit.

Soon thereafter, Cameron, Lola and I drove north to meet him. He was being fostered by Shana Laursen of Greyhound Friends for Life at her remarkable, 1,000-acre facility, where she cares for both Greyhound and mixedbreed rescues. She had seen a photo of the little guy taken by Kern County Animal Control, who classified him as a stray, though whether or not he had been one was hard to know. Many shelters charge people a fee to surrender a dog, but no fee for bringing in a stray. This means that any history that could aid in placement is lost (definitely a policy that needs to be reconsidered).

Shana told us that this Bakersfieldarea shelter — which takes in an inordinate number of dogs and has one of the highest euthanasia rates in the state — is proactively transporting dogs to rescue groups in the San Francisco Bay Area, saving local rescuers a more than 12- hour round trip. Boca had only been in the shelter for about two weeks before grabbing Shana’s attention with his brindling and oh-too-sweet face. (She was fostering him in conjunction with another 501(c)(3), the Sacramento Independent Animal Rescuers Inc., which provides invaluable assistance to independent fosterers.)

By the time we met Boca, he had been with Shana for about three weeks, one of 47 dogs in her care. (Not only does she have lots of land and a truly amazing facility — with multiple buildings, and indoor and outdoor kenneling areas — she also has dedicated volunteers and a vet tech to call upon.) One look at Boca in all his high-jumping splendor told us that he was the dog for us. Once the papers were signed, we took him home.

Much to my great relief, when he met Lola, Kit and Holly there was no fuss whatsoever. It was as though they considered him to be a much younger, sprightlier Lenny. All was definitely right in their world — they were once again a pack of four.

As I write this, it’s been about six weeks since we adopted Boca — whom we renamed Charlie — and we still can’t believe how blessed we were to find him. (Read more about my observations of pack living)

This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 69: Mar/Apr/May 2012
Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and editor in chief. thebark.com

Photograph by Shana Laursen

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Submitted by Phyllis & Denni... | October 9 2012 |

My husband and I volunteered with a dog rescue group for many, many years and I have to tell you, we wouldn’t have given you a fourth dog either. We have three dogs ourselves. It is a huge commitment and expense, and when the inevitable happens, it’s a huge heartbreak.

First, it takes a ton of money and time to commit to one dog, let alone four. I don’t know that I would have trusted one of my foster dogs to get the love and care he or she deserved if there were already three other dogs in the house. At some point, what you have are cattle, not companions.

Second, it’s not always in the dogs’ interest to have a larger group. We have one female and two males, and have had no problems. But our girl did not always appreciate new females in the house, even if the males were okay with it. And, as they got older, they hated puppies! Not the babies so much, but the hyperactive adolescents drove them nuts.

Third, most cities have ordinances that limit the number of dogs you can have, usually to three. So, if for no other reason, it would generally be illegal for you to have a fourth dog.

Believe me, we’ve had dogs come back from people who begged to adopt them, then treated them like dirt. Our group also had to rescue many animals from hoarders during the years. It’s something you don’t forget.

But in your case, it looks like Charlie found a good home.

—Phyllis & Dennis Sporven

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