A few weeks ago, a family member, companion to an adopted cat for nearly 11 years, felt the pull of adopting again and decided to go whole hog, rescuing 3 new kittens and adding them to the pack in one fell swoop. While the act of rescuing these kittens, whose future looked bleak for no other reason than numbers, was noble, one thing this family member did not think about was how the new members of the pack would get along with the cat of the house.
This got me thinking about the value of the effort I see the volunteers of A.F.E.W. put forward when working with families to adopt pets through their organization, and the experience my wife and I had when we adopted our rescue dog, Mattie. I recall clearly reading an article on Petfinder 11 years ago about newly born puppies that had been discovered behind a strip mall in central NJ, only to have had several of their litter members killed by what can only be described as sociopathic teenagers who stumbled upon them and threw them back and forth to each other like baseballs, until a good samaritan intervened. Reading that story, I realized we just had to act, and adopt one of those puppies to allow it to have a life that it was nearly deprived of just days prior. Upon meeting with the rescue agency and their adoption manager – at the time, something I felt was a borderline waste of time, I just had to save those puppies after all, she asked detailed and thorough questions that ultimately helped us make a great decision.
Detailed questions about our pet ownership experience, time spent at work, and honest assessments of time we would have available to spend socializing and training the puppy ultimately led her to suggest that despite our noble intentions, none of those little pups who prompted us to drive 1 hour north were appropriate for us. Instead, she asked if we would consider an 11 week old dog, who had recently been turned in. We said sure, and so as to not repeat previous blog posts detailing the actual adoption – suffice to say, we added a new member to our pack.
Yep. Eleven years ago, I made shots with the green eyes too!
All this to say, our experience, Mattie’s experience and all of our lives were soundly changed by a knowledgeable volunteer who asked the right questions and helped us find the best pet for our situation. It brings satisfaction to see the hard working volunteers of AFEW performing the same work with potential adopters of dogs and cats who come through their care. And while it wasn’t pertinent to us, as Mattie has held sole rule of our house for 11 years now, those questions and tasks the volunteers will ask about introducing a new pet into a home who already has pets will be critical to the overall success for both pets and family. Spend some time with your volunteer, allowing your pets who are already members of your pack to get to know your potential new pet on neutral ground, take a walk together, see how they play and interact, before you take the plunge. You’ll be happy you did, and so with all the pets in your life. If you do it right, in no time at all, they’ll be playing and sticking their tongues out at each other like our two friends below!
For more information and tips about introducing pets as part of the adoption process, check with your local rescue agency, or visit the Humane Society website.