Window-shopping for a rescue dog has many pitfalls

Beware window shopping for a dog: once you clap eyes on them, you might as well sign the adoption papers right away.

We were in no doubt that the dog had to be put down. Somehow, he had escaped from our place and caused havoc followed by injury in the local park. But oh we miss him! He was a rescue dog, a handful, but we were training him conscientiously and he was getting better every week. And he adored us – a big, warm, cuddle-machine of an animal.

It’s 10 weeks since he died. And we are nowhere near ready to replace him. But that doesn’t stop us looking. Our guilty pleasure, these days, is checking out dog rescue websites.

It feels a bit like looking at porn. My husband and I confessed to each other, in hushed tones, the very same day, that we had started looking at dog sites, even though we knew it wasn’t good for us, that we would be tempted into a relationship we weren’t ready for. We are sneaky about it. I catch him, furtively checking out strays on his iPad, and I join him. "Please, can we just watch that clip again, just once more, you know, the one with the puppy in her paddle pool?"

We’re aware, at this point, that it needs to be look, don’t touch. We know, from experience, that once you ring up with an expression of interest, you’re committed to visiting the creature. Once you clap eyes on them, you might as well sign the adoption papers right away. Once they look at you with their pleading eyes that say, "You’re the one, you alone have the power to rescue me from this hell and restore my happiness," you’re a lost cause. That’s what happened with our last fellah and look where that got us.

"You guys," sighs our older daughter, herself a passionate dog lover, "Just stop it! You know you won’t be able to resist!"

She’s right, of course. And our life, post-dog, is so much less complicated. Liberated from his outsized paws, the garden is flourishing. We can get away whenever we want without making complicated arrangements. Ongoing health issues are easier to manage without a dependant creature waiting at home.

But love conquers all. Sooner or later, we will succumb to the allure of a pair of melting eyes, a warm, muscly body, a cutely wagging tail. We are dog people; we can never stay dogless for long. Till then, we’ll just have to get our sad jollies sighing over dogs on the internet.

Clare Boyd-Macrae is an Age columnist.

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