The warm and fuzzy explanation of why some dogs take months to find a forever home is that the best dogs are simply waiting for the best people. It’s what many of us volunteers say to help cool our exasperation when we talk in disbelief about dogs like Lacy. Lacy is an absolutely beautiful girl who is currently the longest-stay resident at Town Lake Animal Center. She has been there since before Christmas. That’s over 100 days in human time and it feels life forever in dog time.
Not only is Lacy beautiful, she’s young, healthy, and has excellent manners. She’s a fantastic walking and running buddy. She’s adorable when she plays with other dogs and “talks” to them to let them know how much fun she’s having. She frolics through high grass like it’s the best thing she’s ever experienced. And she’s always got a big smile and a wagging tail when she’s relaxing with one of her people. She's the kind of dog that should have multiple adoption applications pending. Shelter staff should be reviewing them and choosing from the cream of the crop to give this special girl the best forever home out there.
So why is Lacy still living at the shelter? The simple answer is that I have no idea. Is the shelter stressful? Yes. Is it a hard venue for dogs to show off their true personalities? Absolutely. But plenty of dogs feel scared, stressed, unable to get adequate exercise or attention. They’re ALL overly excited to get out of their pens. They push, bark, and jump their way to fresh air and a human who will give them attention. Or they’re so overwhelmed by the dogs doing that they hide, afraid of what may happen if they leave the relative safety of their kennel. All of that is true, but none of it explains why some of the best dogs out there stay at the shelter the longest while others get adopted in a matter of days.
The longest-stay dogs from TLAC visit us every weekend at the APA! trail site to participate in the Healthy Dogs, Healthy People program. I am consistently amazed at the wonderful dogs who end up as long-stays at the shelter. It just doesn’t seem right or fair. These are dogs that anyone would be lucky to have. Programs like HDHP and off-site B&E sessions, as well as foster homes, and innovative shelter design/practices can help dogs showcase themselves in a more natural environment. In the meantime, if you're looking to adopt a new family member, please consider a long-stay dog like Lacy or our Amy. Both are absolutely wonderful girls who should have gone to their forever homes long ago.
Please remember the obstacles shelter dogs face in convincing you to bring them home. Don’t judge them too harshly if they try a little (or a lot) too hard or if they seem a bit nervous or withdrawn when you first go up to them. It’s hard to play it cool and to keep their hope alive when they’re passed by day after day by seemingly countless people. Spend some time with the dogs and imagine them in a warm, safe, loving home where they know where their next meal, walk, and snuggle are coming from. That’s the dog you’re adopting.
Photo 1 courtesty of Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Martinez at Pints for Pups. Photo 2 courtesy of TLAC Volunteer Peggy Fikac at the APA! trail site. Photo 3 courtesy of TLAC Volunteer Jane Harvey at Pints for Pups.