On Sunday I put out this provocative message to all the pals who keep up with me on-line:
twitpic.com/10sdk5 - (picture) The adoption process went through on Friday and I picked up my new 5 & 7 year old boy/girl today.
Of course it was a tongue-in-cheek message designed to alarm those who might be unable to imagine the likes of an Esther J. Cepeda toting around sippy cups and snack bags of cheddar Goldfish for a set of living, whining tots. They, of course, were right-on in assuming I was somehow joking.
In fact, after writing multiple pieces in the last two years (click here and here) on the effect the housing market downturn, rampant foreclosures and job loss on the lives of household pets, I put my time and effort into the adoption of two Chihuahuas.
I took the plunge after reading yet another news article about the plight of abandoned, discarded, and otherwise left-behind animals; they tend to become but a footnote in lives broken by unemployment or underemployment and all the things that go wrong because of it.
One particular story - "Howls for help; Hard times have left many pets homeless" in the January 21, 2010 edition of the Economist - mentioned several organizations working to place animals in homes. On a total lark I went to one mentioned in the article (adopt-a-pet.com) and looked for a pair of sibling, housebroken, adult Chihuahuas who needed to be adopted together and were currently living near my home. I almost couldn't believe it when the search results spit exactly that out at me.
After filling out the application, putting in the requisite vet call, and passing the in-person interview - the adoption group had to ensure I was neither an ax murderer or a dog-eater - I finally got to meet Maxxie and Minnie.
As it turned out, Maxxie, 5, and Minnie, 7, had lived happy together for years when their owner unexpectedly died. They ended up in a Terre Haute, Indiana shelter before being rescued by one of the many pet rescue groups who have connected with adopt-a-pet.com in order to match people looking for new non-human family members. A few months went by and then I came along.
The foster family, which was housing another 10 dogs, just rescues dogs purely out of the kindness of their hearts. The 250 bucks I put out for each pup barely covered their vaccinations, "fixing", and micro-chipping, much less the cost of gassing up the car and traveling hundreds of miles to pick up scared, homeless dogs and drop off the lucky ones.
"We just love it," the foster mom, Laura, told me about the hours and hours of volunteered time devoted to housing and nursing back to health the unintended consequences of families' misfortunes. She was just thrilled to place the brother/sister duo in to a single home.
As for me, Minnie, Maxxie and the menagerie of furry family friends in my home, well... we're still settling into each other. Adopting somewhat scared adult doggies isn't exactly the same non-stop lovefest that brand new puppies have working in their favor, but then again, the quiet demeanor - and bladder control - they came with is priceless.
Keep up with me on Twitter (@ejc600words) and I'll give periodic updates on our progress.
In the meantime, know that there are literally thousands of "gently used" pets out there looking for a safe, warm home in exchange for unconditional love. If you're even remotely thinking of adding a pet to your life, please consider adopting one.
Esther J. Cepeda writes about Chihuahuas, economic perils, and much, much more on www.600words.com