Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Asshat Rant - Potential Adopters

Ok, so I'm going to go off on a limb here and tell you my current frustrations. I'm about ready to explode and I know that if I get this out, I will feel better (and if I get it out here, it won't come out to the wrong people). So if you don't want to read this rant, you don't have to, but I MUST get it out!!

Before I get started - please remember that I don't want to discourage anyone from adopting from a shelter or foster home. This is only the frustrations of a foster home who has dealt with too many asshats in the last week! Ok, here goes:

While I love working with dogs and teaching them how to deal with society and life in general, I hate working with potential owners and adopters.

Potentials are SO rude! It's like I'm expected to bend over backwards for them. While there are some exceptions, most of them leave a message on my phone that is horribly rude. If I don't call them back within one day, they are on the phone again leaving even worse messages on my machine about how I've not called them back ... Uh ... hello? Do you know how many calls I may return in a DAY about a dog?!? I promise - I will call you back as soon as I am able.

If I do contact them right away, they want to come over immediately. If I say no, they say "well, why not? If you want me to adopt this dog, then you need to let me see it. I want to see it TODAY". Let me tell you something ... if you're going to take THAT attitude than I don't want you to adopt this dog.

I'm trying to do what is best for the dog - not what is best for you.

I will fit you in when I can.

This is MY HOUSE people! Please realize that! Then they're cranked if I make them wait to come see the dog for a day or two. Guess what people, sometimes I even go to WORK! *gasp* Heavens no ... not WORK!

Sometimes I even have to schedule visits around my dinner! Yikes - that one's messy. Try explaining that one to potentials who turn around and say "well it's only going to take a few minutes - I'm sure you could spare that" ... Uh ... Hello ... some of us can't wait for medical reasons.

I also never have them come over when I'm supposed to be walking the dogs because that is not fair for the dogs - they require their walks both mentally and physically. I also don't allow more than one family to come per day if it is a work day because it is not fair for the dog. If it is a weekend, I may set up two families to come - one in the morning and one in the afternoon (with a doggie lunch in between and long walk to get rid of any lingering feelings).

People don't realize what their visit to the dog will mean to the dog!! For some dogs, it is the highlight of their day but for others, it is horribly stressful.

These people act like they're God's Gift to the world because they are thinking they may adopt a dog ... that means they're going to "Save" a dog.

I got news for you people. If the dog's in a foster home, it's already been saved. The last people that adopted the dog I fostered saved this one. Believe it or not, but you're going to be the one that saves the next one by opening up that space in my house so I can take it. When you adopt the dog I have, I get to take another one from a shelter facility - the one that comes after your dog is actually the one you're "saving". I'm sure that he or she will thank you if and when the time comes.

I know that's really splitting hairs, but I get so frustrated when they start acting like that because then I know that they're not adopting this dog to be its owner, companion and friend - they're doing it to be its hero and THAT'S THE WRONG REASON TO GET A DOG.

I'm not asking for thanks or anything - that is in fact the last thing I want. I do this because I love dogs and I know that every dog I take in helps. All I want is for people to realize and understand that "I'm only human and I have to work and eat and walk my dogs and feed my chickens and pay my bills just like everyone else" I do this in my free time, which, when I'm interviewing potential adopters - does not amount to much.

What I do ask from everyone is this:

** Please - if you're going to adopt a dog from someone fostering it, remember - this person has feelings and deserves a bit more than your contept. He or she is NOT going to keep the dog even if they really like it (unless it is absolutely the perfect fit) because if we keep this dog, than we can't help the next one so please stop acting like we should. He or she has just spent anywhere from a few weeks to a few months rehabbing a dog that has probably chewed everything in the house, soiled all the carpets, chased the cats, drooled on the birds, barked up a storm, possibly attacked other dogs/people/etc., may have had fear/agression/anxiety/socialization issues, and probably totally threw the house into turmoil.

I ask the following things from every adopter - I don't think it's too difficult to ask, do you?

1. Please call and let me know your name and phone number (sounds like such an easy task, doesn't it!?)
2. Please leave a POLITE message on my machine - you don't know if I have kids visiting when you call or not ... perhaps one of my nephews (ages 2, 5, 10)?
3. Please don't be too pushy when you call - I know you have questions, but so do I and if you don't fit the bill, I'll won't adopt this dog to you.
4. Please let me figure out when the best time for you to visit would be - I'm trying to set it up so you see the best of this dog, not it's worst!
5. Please realize that I'm looking for the best fit for the dog. I don't care how much money you make or what car you drive. If the person who makes $20,000 a year fits the requirements more than the ones who makes $80,000 a year ... well, guess who I'm going to choose??

And Finally ...


Good grief people ... I don't think that's too much to ask!?


Lenny said...

Hang in there - you are doing a wonderful thing!
I hope my people were nice when they came to meet me...I think they were.

Your friend, Lenny

P.S. the only bad thing about the movie "Hotel for Dogs" is that they made the shelter seem like a really horrible place, and the people who worked there were bad guys.

GoLightly said...

Poor DDF.
People are such AssHats, aren't they?

FastFood, FastDogs.

Karina A. said...

Okay, I may also go on a limb here, but have you thought about making a small website where people can be "screened" by you and then YOU are the one calling and making the appointment with them? This worked out pretty good for a friend of mine about 2 years ago when she started fostering furry friends. She uses flickr now too to post the pics and then a link to her site for potentials to leave their info. Hope this helps and like Lenny said, hang in there! You bring hope to so many souls!

OldMorgans said...

Karina A has a great idea.

When I was breeding & selling horses, the people were the painful part. Most were nice, but some were inconsiderate, rude, stupid, etc.

Nicki said...

thanks for visiting and commenting on borderblog!

Dog_geek said...

Not to be contrary, but in my experience, you are not the typical foster home. Most of the fosters I have dealt with are big-hearted, well-meaning people who know very little about dogs or dog behavior. I DO know of foster homes that have decided at the last minute to keep dogs. I even know of transporters who have absconded with their charges rather than hand them off for the next leg. I know that YOU would never do anything like that, but it does happen.

And from someone who is on the other side of the coin right now, I can say first hand that some rescues are very hard to deal with. When we were looking at rescue dogs before adopting L, several of the rescues I contacted never returned my email. Ever. A few weeks ago I emailed a rescue asking for more information about a puppy. Never heard back. Several days later, I tried calling and asking for an application. That was three weeks ago - I still haven't received it. (We decided to give up on that puppy after never hearing back, rather than to keep banging our heads against the wall.)

So, I can understand your frustration, but I can also understand the frustration of those who are waiting to hear something, who are desperate for information.

RedDeerSeeker said...

DDF....Great Rant! Some people are idiots.... Keep up the good work.

Molly the AireGirl said...

How rude some people can be! Being nice doesn't cost anything! Mom says a smile goes a long way!

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Lots of good points here. Thanks everyone. I try to keep my chin up with people ranting at me but it gets awfully frustrating.

Lenny - that's doesn't sound like very good PR for shelters. We already have issues with breed specific rescues that go on about how they "Rescued" the dog from the shelter. We've even had them say it about our "shelter" even though we are NO Kill and 100% volunteer run.

Karina - I did try working through with emails with one foster a while back. I prefer using email over phones. However, I find it's just as difficult to screen that way and then you end up with people not being called back (which can be frustrating on the other end). Then they get cranky.

Dog_Geek - I know you're working right now to adopt a puppy from rescue - props to you! (Read your blog the other day) You really think most fosters aren't like this? Maybe I live in a bubble. I have a vet friend and a vet tech friend and they are both foster homes - in comparison to them and their knowledge, well, I haven't got the experience they have nor have I taken the courses.

I know some rescues are just terrible to work with - I've tried fostering for different places and they're just as useless with their foster homes as they are with potential adopters. Some of them actually just dump dogs in fosters and leave them there. Let me tell ya, when that happens, you really lose interest fast in fostering.

While I am always looking for the next dog to join our family permanently, I have to say that the more dogs we foster, the more that list of requirements is expanded. You're right - we wouldn't decide to keep a dog at the last minute. Believe it or not, most dogs don't "fit" in our group. They do just fine for temporary terms, but it's been 3 years since we found one that was the perfect fit. Some want to chase the farm animals, some want to eat the cats, some just don't get along with our own dogs that well. There always seems to be a reason.

I'm still working through the calls - we had some people over again last night. He'll be adopted by the end of the weekend. We have two people fighting over him right now (though the family I want him to go to doesn't know that).

Did you know you can hear a smile through a telephone? A person's voice changes when they smile while they are talking into the phone.

Anonymous said...

DDF - yup, that is the public. I work a tech support job, and encounter exactly the same type of people you're describing. Some are nice. But a surprisingly large number treat you like a doormat. A similar number fail to realize that your existence is not limited to talking to them. My favorites are the ones that assume you speak for the entire company, or for everyone who designs computers, and berate you accordingly.

The difference is that I get paid to deal with them, and they're NOT coming into my home! Why people would treat a volunteer like that is more than a little mind boggling to me. I guess all I can say is good luck, and I feel your pain. Hey, on the plus side, you're allowed to hang up on them!

Blech. Dogs are so much better.

Viatecio said...

I've a similar rant about people who rescue animals (already blogged about it, so it's going to seem pre-typed, mostly because it is!) :

some of these true abuse and neglect cases, while going to a home with food, water, shelter, vet care, stimulation and attention, also go to homes that do not mentally and emotionally move them forward. Sure, they provide toys and playtime, but then they listen to (or read) the dog's past and suddenly, they must cater to everything. "He was abused and he's afraid of men, the poor thing." "He was horribly neglected and just has a lot of love, it's no wonder he jumps on everyone!" "Everyone was allergic to him and he was probably shut away all day, so I'm letting him have freedom to know that everyone loves him." It's commonly called Making Excuses For The Dog's Behavior. My favorite is "My dog has a behavior problem, and I'll try anything short of those evil spiked collars...he was abused and I don't want to make him any more afraid, since he trusts me so much now!"

a dog that has been abused and neglected is most certainly an insecure animal. He doesn't know how to lead properly, and all the leadership he's ever known from humans is that of pain, tension, bad energy, and noise. The last thing he needs is an opportunity to gain control, and this is the most common problem I saw with rescues who came into the store, whether or not they'd been mistreated (and THAT is another discussion in and of itself): people adopt insecure dogs and refuse to give them boundaries for whatever many and various reasons. When this happens, it doesn't take the dog long to realize that the new pack members are sods and not willing to lay down the law when the law demands, if there is even a law about the problem at hand! However, up until now, the dog has never had a chance to be a leader or learn proper leader skills, so it takes control the best way it knows: a growl here, a lip-curl there, maybe a good tug on the leash, taking ownership of furniture...and by the time most novice rescue owners realize they have a problem, the dog has escalated to the point where many trainers (at least those who tend towards the positive-only spectrum and thus appeal to the masses) will either recommend the dog be A) put down, B) put through a hilariously laughable "boot camp" in which ambiguous, uncertain and none-too-guaranteed results are not seen for months, if at all, or C) returned to the shelter as a "bad match" for the family.
Nitpick it as you want, but that's just my general experience with people who rescue. I'm coming from the point of view as the trainer who gets the frantic "But he used to be so good, what happened?!!11!" call, probably a different one than what foster homes get, but it's still...frustrating.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Viatecio! Great rant. Very well put. And a good point. I've always just assumed that people like to anthromorphize everything - including dogs and cats - so that's why they are always giving their animals Excuses.

Also, I've found that people adopting dogs LOVE to say they rescued it ... it makes them feel better. I've heard people tell stories about their dogs being abused by their previous owners even though they weren't.

From the foster home perspective - well, I guess it depends on the foster home. For my home, we get the ones who have already bitten someone, have acted in an aggressive manner or who act too fearful to be adopted. We've had all sorts of others including 'destructors', 'buzz-saws', and 'over exuberants', but those are the most common.

You're right - most are simply fearful and deal with the world the best way they know how - with biting or aggression or anxiety.

I know it sounds odd, but it doesn't matter if it is abused or not - the training process is basically the same. It's just a matter of changing where you begin and what lessons you teach.

You figure out what it is that makes them tick and then you associate good things with those "triggers".

All we do as the foster home is figure out where their threshold is, set them up for success and teach them the proper ways to deal with the world.

To me, it doesn't seem that difficult, but I know many foster homes who have had troubles understanding and implementing this.

(I won't start in about the dogs who come in with cigarette burns all over their bodies and won't allow you to touch them, or try to attack you when you walk by or when you are holding your hands a certain way, or will be looking at you for a cookie and when you put your hands up in a "all gone" gesture they go from waiting patiently for a cookie to psycho-attack-cujo-dog ... that's a whole other rant! For those dogs, the trigger could be a lighter, or cigarette, or alcohol ... the list goes on and on and on.)

I'm not a professional trainer. I have "high" expectations for my dogs and I try to teach those expectations to my fosters (no biting, practice obedience, be kind and gentle, eliminate outside).

I'm just a person who tries to make a difference - one dog at a time.

Ted Teodoro said...

When I show a dog to prospective adopters at the shelter, I am also qualifying them as worthy humans or not. Most people think it is their call, and only their call. No. I listen to their deliberations, and from them I can deduce if their own will be a good one for our dog. I hate this " What do you think, hon? " and this " Well, I not sure if... " Okay, so I decide in my private thoughts that trial and error at their home isn 't good for our dog. I give my feedback to our president, and they are advised to find a dog that they truly love, there or somewhere else.

Rebecca said...

I could have written that post myself in the past few days. :/ Especially...

"He or she is NOT going to keep the dog even if they really like it (unless it is absolutely the perfect fit) because if we keep this dog, than we can't help the next one so please stop acting like we should."

Yes, I do love my foster. He is a wonderful, adorable, gentle dog. No, I'm not going to keep him. No, it isn't because there is something wrong with him. Geez.

I know some rescues aren't completely up front with potential adopters about behavior problems with their dogs, but I am. I don't want him to come back to me because he has been placed in a home that isn't a good fit. I understand why people look on me with suspicion (as I am trying to find our next permanent dog through some frustrating rescues atm). But I really wish people wouldn't assume that I don't want him because he isn't a great dog.

And I admit, I really would like him adopted soon. We've had him since September (he had a really severe case of heartworms, took forever to recover), and I have seen dog after dog that we could have fostered become "listing removed" because we can only do one at a time.