We had pets when I was growing up, but I never had a pet as an adult because of my crazy work schedule (some of which was self-imposed). In November 2010, my father, who was my best friend, mentor and tailgate companion at Clemson and Carolina Panther football games, died after seven weeks in the hospital. I was devastated and depressed. For the first time in my single adult life, I felt alone. I went through the motions at work, but my heart wasn’t in it. My mom, who lived in Rock Hill, SC was taking it even harder. Her companion of 52 years was gone, and so was her sense of purpose. We spent a lot of time together, but we were both miserable.
I knew I had to do something to break out of the funk, and I began thinking about adopting a dog who needed me. I did some research and settled on several small breeds that don’t shed a lot because of my allergies. I researched and applied with some rescues, but I did not have the experience and home set up (fenced yard, home during the day) that some rescues require. But I kept thinking about it. And I began checking the Humane Society of Charlotte (HSC) website. They didn’t have many small dogs, and when they did, they didn’t stay long.
I went through a miserable holiday season and went back to work on January 4, 2011 with a resolve to find my spirit again. I was meeting with one of my team members who was asking me how I was doing. I told her I was thinking of getting a dog. She said, “you have to do it” and told me her story (every dog person has one). I later had a meeting with another colleague, and we had the discussion about how she balanced having a dog with her busy schedule. She told me about the investment in a pet sitter/dog walker and the freedom it gave her.
That night I looked at the Humane Society website and there he was – Murphy. He was a male Shih Tzu. He was three years old it. He was brown and white and his eyes told the tale. They said, I’ve seen a lot, but it hasn’t broken my spirit. I filled out the application on the spot and sent it in electronically. Quite honestly, I did not expect to be successful.
Do your homework – study breeds and study rescues (I did a little of both, but could have done more).
Be prepared – if you have specific desires – breed, size, age – you may not find Mr. Right (or Ms. Right) overnight.
There are a number of dog events in the Charlotte area where rescues bring pups for adoption. Those are good places for “meet and greets.” (I didn’t do that.)
If you have particular breeds and breed rescues in mind, you might be able to pre-apply and be screened ahead of time by some rescues. That can speed the process when you meet Mr. Wonderful. (I didn’t do that either.)
There are some breed specific rescue groups that operate on a national basis and you can travel to them or they have transport services (Lone Star Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso Rescue in Houston, Texas is one of my favorites. I learned about them after I found Murphy.)
Most of these rescues are active on Facebook.