I love animals; it is difficult for me to consider living my life without having a pet to share my affection with. Every puppy, kitten, dog or cat that has found his or her way into my home and heart has been a street rescue or adoptee from a shelter. The most recent addition is a little Jack Russell-Chihuahua mix, now named “BlackJack”. BlackJack was residing at the Delaware County SPCA, located at 555 Sandy Bank Road, in Media, Pennsylvania, when we first met.
For those not familiar with my “Lucky Dog” article series, I had adopted a street dog (Lucky) in 2007 from a Philadelphia shelter. Lucky developed extreme fear-aggression of “stranger” dogs after a neighbor’s dog attacked her. The only way to provide her with canine companionship would be to bring another dog into my home and to managethe interactions until she could trust the “stranger” dog. I applied and was accepted into the Delaware County SPCA’s foster program in 2008. We then fostered several animals, including a pair of kittens, the last of which was adopted in January 2009.
So it was that in January 2009, Lucky and I went to the Delaware County SPCA to find our next foster dog. I spotted a little black dog quietly hiding in his crate, and we did a basic meet-and-greet between the two dogs, assisted by a very capable volunteer. Since he hadn’t been temperament tested, I couldn’t bring him home that day; we would have to wait for the trainer to evaluate the dog. It was late on the following day that I received a phone call from the shelter’s Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Dayna, with the results of temperament test.
Dayna was very forthcoming in the results of this dog’s temperament test. He had done well in most parts of the test, but he had miserably failed in a test for food aggression, a form of resource guarding. She related what history was known by the shelter; he had been brought in by animal control on a pole, after he had attacked and bitten his previous owner. Between his bite history and temperament test, he was not considered adoptable. His only chance at life would be placement in an experienced foster home where his every action could be managed, where work could occur to rehabilitate and train him. After some discussion, I decided to take the little guy on. I knew from the beginning that if I could turn him around, he had a high probability of becoming a permanent resident, but if I couldn’t turn him around, he would be euthanized.
I started by changing his entire universe. I gave him a fresh start and renamed him “BlackJack”, referring to his predominate coat color and breed. It was soon obvious that he thought he owned the world; he would do what he wanted to do, and if I thought differently, he would introduce me to his rather sharp set of teeth to try to get his way. At just 19 pounds, he acted like he was the biggest, baddest, stubbornest critter in the universe.
It didn’t take him long to find out that even if he sank his teeth into my hand, he wasn’t getting his way. I could be just as stubborn. It took him longer to realize that trying to sink his teeth into Lucky, a Pit Bull nearly three times his weight, didn’t work well either. But he did learn. Even my granddaughter – age 4 – can usually handle him now.
It took time, and fortunately, the Delaware County SPCA was supportive in sharing knowledge and time to work on rehabilitating this little dynamo, even letting me sign him up into an 8-week obedience class they were offering, at no cost. BlackJack had been with me longer than any previous foster when I decided to file the adoption application.
The application process can seem somewhat daunting at first, but the staff at Delaware County SPCA will help walk an applicant through the process. I picked up the application, completed it, and turned it in.
The front desk staff verified my veterinary reference. Some of the process was streamlined, since I already was in physical possession of BlackJack. He had already been neutered and micro-chipped. I provided proof of homeownership; the Delaware County SPCA requires that all adopters either be a homeowner or have proof that theirlandlord will allow the pet in question. Still, there were forms to be completed, including a form to transfer his microchip information over to me as his new owner. I was pleased to learn that the adoption fee was significantly reduced as a courtesy, since I had fostered him.
The adoption concluded, the shelter staff gave me a folder, which included all of BlackJack’s paperwork. In the folder, along with all the official adoption paperwork, were coupons and discounts from pet stores for supplies and a certificate for a free vet checkup along with a list of participating vets.
All in all, the adoption process went smoothly, the staff was courteous and BlackJack now has a permanent home and canine role model in Lucky. I hope both dogs live long lives, but, when it is time, I know there will be another dog in need. And I already know where to find him or her – at the Delaware County SPCA.