Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Diesel Isn't Coming Home

Sometimes, when something painful happens, you just don't know how to process it.

Champs has wanted a dog ever since we got married, but it has never been an option for us because we wanted a big dog – bigger than most rental contracts will allow. When we started looking for a house to buy last year, we agreed that the time was finally right for us to bring a dog home. After researching, talking and being honest about what we wanted and could handle in a dog, we decided that the right dog for us was the gentle giant – a male Great Dane. We agreed that we would look for an adult dog to give a home to as soon as we bought a house. On closing day, I don’t think the ink was dry on the deed before Champs was searching PetFinder.com for our new boy.

Finally, Champs found him – the perfect Great Dane for us. For the last two weeks, we’ve been going through the process to adopt Diesel from a rescue in Indiana. We've completed applications, emailed back and forth, and spoke on the phone with the rescue lady. We wanted to go next Friday so that we could have the holiday weekend for him to settle in. Instead, she wanted us to get him this weekend. She said that he is such a great dog that if he stayed any longer she might keep him herself. We made our plans, went shopping to buy new doggy stuff for our big baby, created a poll to decide which one of three carefully chosen names he would be given, emailed everyone we know with our news, and generally let ourselves get wrapped up in the excitement of giving this rescue dog a new, loving home.

So this morning we got up early and drove four hours to Indiana to bring Diesel home. We spent nearly two hours there, getting to know him and falling in love with what a great dog he is, only to have the rescue lady tell us that she couldn't give him away. We'd be great dog owners - just not for this dog, she said.

I think she was concerned by my reaction when I met him, which was "wow, you're beautiful... and BIG!." It took me a couple of moments to be ready to pet him - not because I didn't like him or I was afraid, but mostly because I wanted to be sure he wouldn't jump on me. I had told her that I grew up with Great Danes but hadn't owned one of my own or lived with one in 20 years. I may be wrong, but I think that after that long, it's not unreasonable to expect that I might need a couple of minutes to get reacquainted with the breed.

He was too perfect and she couldn't bear to let him move so far away, she said. Maybe if we lived closer so she could come and see him, then it would have worked, she said. He'd lived a hard life and deserved to be in a home where he would be loved like one of the children with no boundaries, she said. It concerned her that we didn't want him to sleep in our bed, she said. And then she went on to say that she wanted him to be in a home where he would be the only dog, but since she fell in love with him, she was taking him home to live with her four other Great Danes.

It took her nearly 20 minutes to go from "I'm not sure if I can give him up. I told myself this morning that I could, that I was ready, but now that you're here, I don't think I can do it" to "No, you can't have him." Champs finally had to leave because he was so upset, but I stayed behind to see if there was anything I could say to ally her concerns. I mean, we had passed the application process and we loved the dog. Sweet Girl, who has been nervous around big dogs before, but had no fear of him, had spent the hour hugging him, stroking him, and falling in love. We knew that Diesel was the perfect dog for our family; sweet, calm, loving, and gentle.

But I realized that nothing I could say meant anything to her. I don't think it was really about us - she just fell in love with the dog herself, which I can understand. What I can’t understand is why she didn't have the nerve or the courtesy to call and tell us how she felt beforehand so that we didn't take the long trip only to have our hearts broken. I think she was hoping that either we wouldn't want him and then she'd have an out, or that she could find something horribly wrong with us so that she could justify keeping him. But we came and loved him, and other than the fact that I want him to sleep in a doggy bed on the floor (which we'd already bought for him), and that I didn't fall over myself adoring him (which just isn’t something I would do, no matter how much I love an animal), she had no other reason to turn us away.

And when my daughter stood crying by the dog's kennel because she couldn't understand why Diesel wasn't coming home with us, the rescue lady's business partner leaned down and told my daughter, "Face it, you're not getting the dog.", then straightened, smiled at me and said, "I'm a grandma. I know how to handle them." That's when I picked up my daughter, picked up my purse, and walked out.

And just like that, we drove home 253 miles with our daughter crying for the first two hours of the trip. No dog. No new family member to love. Only pain, and the indefinable question, "why was I not good enough?"

Here's the comments from this post:
Geekwif said...
I wish there was something to say that could actually make you feel better, but I know there's not. All I can say is that this woman was selfish, inconsiderate, dishonest, and cowardly to the Nth degree; and her friend does not deserve to have grandchildren if that's how she "handles" them. To say something like that to a child in that situation is absolutely unpardonable.
I'm so sorry you and Champs and especially Sweet Girl had to go through this. I hope you find another dog soon that is even more wonderful and will help to wipe out the memory of this painful experience with lots of happy tail wags and sweet puppy-like affection.

gift4gab said...
That is a HORRIBLE way to treat people, especially a child. Is there someone you can report this lady too? Someone higher up in the rescue group?
I am so sorry your family went through that - I am ashamed that they were able to behave that way.
Good luck.

Tammy said...
That woman dared to call herself a grandma and had the nerve to say to Sweet Girl, "Face it, you're not getting the dog."??????? You've GOT to be kidding?!?!? If I had been there with my Irish temper in tow, I would have slapped her to start with... You would have had to bail me out of jail. I am soooo sorry to hear what you went through. =(

David said...
i can't believe this, but since you said it I will try to get my mind around the concept of people being so selfish. She was clearly NOT thinking about the dog's well being.
This makes me sad.

Jean said...
That was a real nasty way they treated you all... Feel very bad. I was really hoping that at the end Diesel would have somehow come with you.