Rescuing Pink (Floyd)

For the first four years I’ve had Pink (Floyd), I hardly saw her. She holed up in the basement, probably decompressing from the hoarding situation I saved her from, and partly trying to figure out what to do about those two pesky pups that lived on the main floor.

Pink was a rescue. Literally.

Lex steals a kiss from Pink.

A girlfriend of mine called me over one day to say her elder hippie neighbors had taken off for the west coast and left Pink behind. Apparently they had drugged the cat for the trip, and she crawled into a small dark spot and drifted off … and shortly afterward, when the hippies couldn’t find Pink, so did they.

Almost three weeks later, my friend spotted Pink in an upstairs window, and using a key the hippies left behind, she went in and grabbed her. She invited me over to show me this skinny, inquisitive tuxedo cat, and I fell in love. I needed to have her right away!

Did I mention I am terribly allergic to cats?

Well, the first six months were rough. And I was grateful she was more comfortable in a secret location somewhere in the basement. I sneezed a lot, fought hives and used my albuterol inhaler. Then something magical happened. She stopped getting under my skin.

Eventually she was curious enough to hang out on the first floor of my house longer than it took to scarf down her food. She cautiously checked out the dogs. Lex tentatively approached Pink, and customarily sniffed her butt. Pink froze and fluffed out. Lili, my late sausage-like cocker spaniel, broke up the lovefest by barreling toward them maniacally barking.

In an instant, Pink was gone.

And so the drill went. Sometimes Lex was snuggled up in a nap with Pink, and Lili would disapprovingly charge them, sending Pink packing for refuge in the basement. As chaotic as this sounds, it became their routine. Even at the end of Lili’s life, when she was very sick and frail, she would take one step toward Pink and attempt a growl. Pink would stand a second longer, and feign fear before sauntering into the kitchen.

Pink atop her new kitty condo.

In preparation of bringing another dog into the house, Matt and I decided to buy a cat tree. A cat condo, if you will. A simple wood structure covered in carpet, providing perches and hiding spots.

For some reason, Matt and I found these things quite silly. But now that Lili is gone, and Pink spends the majority of her time in the front room with us, we thought maybe we missed the point. We started staking out the area pet stores, and searching online.

In the end, we settled on a cat tree that stands about 3-1/2 feet tall, covered in light beige carpet. It has two cradling perches, and a cat cave of sorts. Matt and I worried if she would even use it at all, but we had a secret weapon … catnip. After setting it next to the fish tank, Matt took small pinches of catnip and sprinkled each perch. Then we placed Pink on top of the tree, and that was it. She rolled, and rollicked and purred. We had never seen her behave like that before. The good news is that even without the catnip, she now uses it every day.

Clearly we had waited too long to get her one of these contraptions. I foolishly thought it was enough for her to have the basement landscape, or the window in the spare bedroom. She wanted a safe space to hang out in the front room so she could be part of the family. Awwe.

And now that a puppy may be on the way, the timing couldn’t be better.

NEXT: Scouting a new pup.


Radio silence

Two weeks after walking away from Ranger, a Facebook alert told me he had been adopted. I didn’t have much time to contemplate this development, as Matt was eager to get my attention.

“Look, look,” he pleaded, trying to pry me away from Facebook. “Pleeeease look!”

I turned my head, and saw the sweetest dog staring back at me. Matt was holding up his computer, open to a black and white dog he found on

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s the cutest dog, ever!!!” Matt told me.

I scooched in close so we could read the dog’s profile together. She had an unfortunate name, but her profile seemed to make up for that. It said she was “house trained, great with kids, cats and other dogs. Zero food aggression and very well mannered.” The organization advised against using a crate with her. Lexie was the same way when I brought her home; she hated to be confined. This new pup was a border collie/spaniel mix, although it almost looked like the mix more likely involved a corgi. Kinda goofy looking, but we liked that.

“Do you think she’ll be able to jump onto the bed? It says she’s only 24 pounds, so she’s small,” Matt asked.

We decided we would put an ottoman at the base of the bed, just in case. And the name. We had to do something about that. We decided upon Daisy. Yes. She would be our sweet Daisy girl.

Adopting her required submitting an application to a private rescue organization. This was a new experience for both of us, but we were eager to try something different after the humane society debacle with Ranger.

The application was thorough, and turned Matt off. Still, he plugged away, thinking about sweet Daisy.

The next morning, I called up her profile to swoon and think of all the things we would do once Daisy joined our family. I was shocked to see “Pending” next to her name. Butterflies exploded in my stomach. The organization must have fast-tracked her application! I called Matt, and he shared my excitement.

“You know, we’ll have to get her a sweater,” I said.

Two days later, Matt received an email from a woman at the rescue. She said she had contacted our veterinarian for a background check, and that the office had no record of Matt or Lexie. Well, that was because Lexie is under my name at the vet. Easy enough to fix, we sent the volunteer my name, along with a pic of Lexie from a recent camping trip. We were shameless about trying to sweeten the pot.

One day turned into two days, then three. Absolute radio silence. Out of desperation, I decided to give my investigative skills a try. The first place I turned? Facebook, of course. I found the rescue organization’s official page, and furiously began reading all the posts.

About 25 posts down, I found an entry by an apparent foster asking if a dog has five applications, do you call all five? She then mentioned Daisy by name, and said she would be at a meet-and-greet the next day.

Immediately, I sent the woman a Facebook message, asking if the pet store visit was a sure thing, that I was one of the applicants and would like to meet Daisy in person.

Radio silence.

When she later posted something else about Daisy without answering my note, anger began to brew in me. Two days went by. She posted a message about Daisy’s successful event. She posted about needing people to help her do home visits in Grand Blanc, Livonia and Downriver. But not Ferndale, where we live.

Daisy was slipping through our fingers.

Several days later, Matt sent the rescue contact a simple email inquiry: “Any updates?”

Again, nothing.

Two days later, Matt received two emails within moments of each other. The first one, from a volunteer we had not dealt with before, said Daisy was in the process of being adopted. She said the organization is shorthanded on volunteers, and urged us to get a home visit done to get approved for adoption. The second email, from the original volunteer, oddly spoke as if we still had a chance with Daisy. She said they were reviewing applications and evaluating which home would be a fit.

Within the hour, Daisy’s profile again was marked “Pending.”

That evening, we exchanged emails with the main volunteer, who now is eager for us to complete a home visit in hopes of better positioning us for an adoption. All this seems so much to go through to adopt a dog. Of course, I’m grateful they look out for the pups, but this process has left us somewhat battered and emotionally exhausted. And this is only dog number two.

Matt and I had just wasted almost two weeks waiting on communication that never came. Two weeks that we could have spent looking at other dogs. We needed to either change up our game, or take a break.

I appears we are back to the dating pool.


While cruising the rescue organization’s Facebook page to research this blog entry, I came across a post from Daisy’s foster mom. Apparently, while she was crated, Daisy managed to tear up the foster mom’s carpet and padding. She suggested that anxiety (never mentioned in the profile) was an ongoing issue for the dog, and wondered if a trainer or meds might help the new owners.

Ah, yeah. Dodged a bullet.

Losing ground

Matt and I spent  most of our camping trip avoiding the obvious topic: Ranger.

I think I brought him up twice to test the waters, but Matt was lukewarm. I couldn’t read him at all. I knew I risked him losing the connection with Ranger as the week went on, but I also knew repeatedly asking Matt how he felt could tip the scales in the no-dog direction.

But once we got back home, one thing was clear: We were going to visit Ranger again.

Matt discovers Ranger is food-motivated.

The day after we returned, we drove out to the humane society with our dog Lexie so she could meet Ranger. A young volunteer held Ranger’s leash as we walked around the parking lot, closely watching the two dogs interact. It was mostly benign stuff, with Ranger wanting to play more than the elder Lex, and he got a good butt sniff in too, to which she did not object. I called this a success. Matt was feeling the love.

We walked up to the adoption station, then Matt got cold feet.

“I didn’t know we were going to get him today! I feel like you are rushing me!” he said.

I found this surprising considering I had spent an hour prepping a crate the night before. But not wanting to spoil the entire transaction, I put a 24-hour hold on Ranger and we went home.

The next morning we woke up with clarity and new resolve. We would adopt Ranger. I waited until the shelter opened, and placed a call, excitedly telling them I would be by in an hour to adopt him.

Once we arrived, we immediately were told that Ranger had to pass “the cat test” since we have a cat at home. They offered to use a shelter cat for the interaction, and we were all for it. Ranger was a gently fella, and he would no doubt pass. We were told to wait in the hallway and that someone would lead us to the test room. After waiting 20 minutes, a young woman asked us if we “were the ones here for Ranger” and took us into a back room. After a few minutes, one of the volunteers said the regular cat used in this test was not available so instead they brought in an 8-week-old black kitten, which was quickly placed in a cage in the corner of the room. Moments later, the other volunteer brought in Ranger and the test was on.

Ranger steals a kiss.

Being a German short-haired pointer, he did the expected — he pointed. No growling, no barking, just a solid, unbroken point. The volunteers tittered, took furious notes and talked as if we were not in the room. They noted that a bad reaction to a cat could cause his heart to race and possible break loose a heartworm. Just looking at a cat could kill him, they said. I looked at him shaking, pointing, and wondered what damage they were causing to his heart with this stupid cat test. They quietly observed that he wouldn’t break his gaze. I could tell from the look on their faces that their collective armchair opinion was not good. They allowed Ranger to close in on the kitten as it hissed and swiped with its claws. The kitten was taken out of the cage and left to fend for itself in a corner. At 9 months old, I’m guessing this could have been Ranger’s first exposure to a kitten. A crazed, pissy one at that. Ranger never lost composure. But he never stopped pointing either.

After about 40 minutes of this, the volunteers declared the test over and without telling us the results pointed us to the front desk so we could continue the adoption process. So we walked up front and were told to sit at an adoption table. In the next 30 minutes of waiting, we burned some time by strolling through a small pet store in the lobby, guessing at which toys Ranger would love the most. We also confessed relief that we made it to the adoption table. The girls in the cat test were less than encouraging. I could feel them judging us, marking us as not good enough.

Finally we were called over to a table by a woman who greeted us with a bag of dog food. Suddenly I knew we were golden. Once you get the bag of food, they are ready to send you out the door with the pup. But she quickly excused herself and was replaced by a solemn-looking lady. Our hearts dropped.

The woman quickly told us that the staff was concerned because Ranger did not do well in the cat test, and performed similarly in the meet-and-greet with Lexie. We demanded to see the paperwork, and she said it was lost; all she had to go off of was a quick text from the kid who conducted the dog interaction. Matt and I looked at each other incredulously. She leaned in for effect. “Since Ranger has heartworm, we only have one shot at this.” She all but said that she thought we would kill Ranger if we brought him home, and that they just couldn’t authorize the adoption. She asked us to wait another 24 hours so they could consult a professional behavioralist.

The air in my lungs was gone. I looked at Matt, and we walked past the bag of food on the table.

On the long drive home, I called the shelter and said we would pass on Ranger.

I couldn’t believe I was walking away from a dog that I already imagined was mine. The bowl of water already was set out. The crate, set up. It had nothing to do with the dog and everything to do with the cumulative experience we had with the animal shelter. We got the sense they just didn’t want us to have the dog, and honestly, they zapped our fight.

We knew in time, we would be ready to look again.

NEXT: Trying private adoption.