I was at dinner the other night with our CEO, Elizabeth, and we were discussing how people select their next family member. It’s a personal decision and each family likely approaches it somewhat differently, but one theme we see in common across approaches is that the person feels a connection with their next pet.
Some people, including me, begin their dog adoption with a breed in mind. I love basset hounds. I love that they’re low riders, have big ears, and waddle. When I see a basset hound, I almost always smile – even if they’ve gotten into the trash and spread it across the kitchen. Who makes a better family member than someone who makes you smile every time you see her?
Others might approach adoption because they want to rescue an animal. The breed is less important, but making sure that they are helping an animal in need is the most important factor. We see these folks each day. They want the dogs that are the most difficult to adopt, or are pulling dogs from shelters hours or minutes from being euthanized. Saving a life is their first consideration.
And others still might consider the personality of the dog, and the lifestyle fit, foremost. Wanting a dog that will run with them, or binge watch Mad Men on Netflix with them – it’s the lifestyle that’s most critical to their decision.
No matter the starting point, all of these factors will come into consideration at some point. While I start with basset hounds, I quickly move into rescue, and then lifestyle fit. How the dog will integrate with my current family members, including our cat, is a key.
Then it’s time to connect, and it’s the connection that’s the most important moment. When you look into a dog’s eyes and sense that it’s right, it’s one of the most exciting moments you’ll experience. But what makes the connection? When do you know it’s right?
Connecting with an animal is a very personal set of criteria that varies from circumstance to circumstance. Last fall my family lost one of our dogs, Sadie Sue. It happened without much warning, and although 11 years old, we were not prepared for the loss.
A couple of weeks after saying goodbye we independently started to look at the Ohio Basset Rescue Facebook page and website. I don’t think I told Kami, my wife, or she told me, but we were both surfing. Eventually, we started to talk about some of the dogs we were seeing and what we might want in a dog. We focused on gender and age mostly because we knew our new family member would be a basset hound!
One day we came across a post about a girl named Birdie. She was scared. She’d been left at the shelter because her parents had to move to an assisted living facility, and she couldn’t go. When I saw her picture and story, I knew that she was the girl I’d make a push for with Kami. And about 3 minutes before me, Kami had made the same decision – I just hadn’t seen the message on my phone yet. We’d both connected with Birdie.
I’m not much of a believer in fate, or in things being “meant to be.” I think that we create our luck and the conditions that enable connections. It’s a combination of things and factors that I don’t fully understand. But, I do know that when the time is right, and there is a connection, it’s one of the best feelings you’ll ever experience.
What’s most important to you when bringing a new pet into your home? We’d love to hear your story about a special four-legged family member and how you found each other below!