Winston, our beloved poodle of 17 years, passed away in his sleep on July 18, 2010. He had a good, long life. He was a part of our family and we miss him terribly.
Four months after his death, we brought home Chloe; an unusual mix of German shepherd and Greyhound. I can't recall ever having used this expression before but I feel compelled to say that Chloe "runs like the wind." I'd also like to add that she "flies through the air with the greatest of ease" right before she lands in our neighbor's backyard, from where she can easily escape. Clearly, I underestimated her Greyhound DNA. In the first 10 days we had her home, she ran away 6 times. I was greatly encouraged when she came back on her own the last 3 times. I think she's starting to like it here. Meanwhile, my husband has been busy creatively extending and reinforcing our backyard fence to ensure that this doesn't happen again.
Here's how we came to adopt our newest member of the family:
It wasn't long before my husband started showing me pictures of cute dogs on the Internet. As much as I adored my Winston, I was starting to get used to my new found freedom. All of a sudden, I didn't have to run home to feed and walk the dog. I could leave the house overnight with no thought to who could stay with my pet, I spent less time scrubbing the carpet. Let's be honest. As your dog gets on in years, there will be accidents!
An animal lover at heart, I became weak at the sight of an adorable face. The Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter located at 3320 Beltagh Avenue in Wantagh has a special Home for the Holidays program. Their policy is to have the whole family present during the adoption selection process which, of course, makes perfect sense. I looked into Chloe's eyes and felt an immediate connection. I desperately tried but was unable to reach my husband who works 2 hours away at his job in Brooklyn. I left the facility heartbroken. As I drove home, I felt like Chloe was already mine. There was no way I was leaving her behind.
I came home and frantically starting calling my husband every 30 seconds until I finally reached him. He caught an early train home from work, picked up my daughter at school and drove to the pound. With zero seconds to spare until the building closed for the night, the adoption was approved. They made their way home. Chloe sauntered into our living room as well as into our hearts.
During this time of the year, the shelter's regular adoption fees of $85.00 for dogs and $75.00 for cats as well as fees for the rabies vaccines are waived. Additionally, all the pets adopted from the shelter are spayed or neutered and micro-chipped free of charge. Their adoption hours are 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The service is exceptional. The entire staff was courteous and helpful. As a bonus, we left toting a goodie bag filled with dog food, treats, toys and leashes.
According to their website, the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter boasts one of the highest adoption rates in the nation. I was truly impressed by the clean facility and the number of volunteers available to help feed and walk the dogs. While I was there, a Girl Scout troop was being taught about "proper animal care and responsible pet ownership." Apparently, this is a popular service often provided to school children in addition to the therapy visits they make to nursing homes.
Before we finally found ourselves at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter, we visited many other rescue organizations. We couldn't seem to find the perfect pet for our family and we were horrified at the condition of many of the sites. Just before Chloe's adoption, we almost brought home a portly Puggle from another local non-profit. They told us upfront the adoption fee was $150.00. The dog had just been brought in 5 days prior and couldn't be taken out of the kennel until seen by the doctor. Naturally, we agreed to wait and proceeded to fill out an application which required 3 references.
We provided the references and all 3 were called. What remained outstanding was a home visit. After said completed visit, we were suddenly told that the dog could not be released for a "penny under $250.00." Was the dog worth it? Absolutely! However, we couldn't seem to shake the feeling that we had just been scammed and so we decided to walk away from this scenario. In stark contrast to the positive experience we had at the Hempstead shelter, the former situation led to an angry confrontation and a lot of hurt feelings. Later on, I heard that the Puggle had found a loving home.
Rescue dogs sometimes come with issues. They may have been abandoned and spent time living on the streets. Bad habits may have been picked up along the way. They may try to escape, chew things of value when you leave the house, or display food or other aggressions. It's important to think carefully about the situation you're entering and decide whether you have the time, patience and resources to put an end to this unacceptable behavior. It may not be for everyone, but if it's for you, and you live on Long Island, I would encourage you to visit the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter and bring home your new best friend today.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Graduate REALTOR Institute
Jill Sackler, NYS Real Estate Broker Associate based on Long Island's South Shore
Specializing in Lifecycle Real Estate Transitions
©Jill Sackler 2010