Remember how actual mail used to come in the actual mailbox?
I remember feeling queasy about the few chain letters I received growing up, no matter how much my parents tried to reassure me that I shouldn’t pay any attention to them.
“Send this to seven friends or you will have bad luck.” It was funny how the chain letters made me feel sort of tainted. Even though I wasn’t at fault, I still felt responsible somehow…like I’d committed petty thievery while I was sleepwalking or something. All because the envelope had my name on it.
I originally sent an email about Skyler’s pups with the photo below to about eight friends of mine that I know are good pet owners. It included a plea to forward it on to their friends who were animal lovers so we could find homes for these dogs. My neighbors out at the farm who were having to deal with the pups after taking in the dumped pregnant mama dog don’t have internet–they don’t even have a fenced yard–and when she told me she’d made an appointment to take the litter to the shelter in Moses Lake on the 18th, I knew I had to do something.
But even though I know how forwarded emails propagate faster than wildfire, I couldn’t have predicted the huge response I got about these dogs.
Without prompting, many folks emailed their life story. There were the lesbian teachers on the west side who had just lost a young dog to kidney failure and whose sons and older dog were grief-stricken. There was the mechanic writing on behalf of a Chinese friend of his who was a quadriplegic who had always wanted a puppy. This might be the only summer that his friend would be able to get his wish, he wrote, because friends were now staying with him and could help him raise the dog. He’d already picked out the one he wanted (the one in the back of the dogloo) and named her, he said.
There was the family whose elderly dog has a fatal illness who thought it would be too hard on their kids to lose him without having another dog to help them through the transition.There was the woman who’d just lost her elderly border collie who commended on how much several pups in this litter looked like her dog and that I could contact a border collie rescue that she knew about.
And then there were the Craigslist-style replies. “Where U At My Freind Is Interstsed In A Puppie.”
And then there were people who looked me up in the phone book and called me before I even had a chance to email them back.
And then there were the people who treated the pups like a fast food order. “We’ll take three.”
And then there were the people who referenced the friend who’d sent them the email (even though it was about six degrees removed from me by then) and I had no clue who their friend was, or even the five friends before that who’d forwarded the email. “I’m a friend of Sarah’s who works at OFM, and she can vouch that I’m a real animal lover….” wrote one woman from Olympia.
And then there was the woman from a rescue operation who wrote me, blasting me for trying to adopt the pups out without getting them vaccinated for Parvo (since I’d included the information that the pregnant mama dog had been dumped and we didn’t know her genetics or history).
Since I’m the cat lady, not the dog lady (and therefore don’t know much about dog diseases), I felt terribly guilty (that chain letter thing again…?) Even though these aren’t my dogs. Even though I had nothing to do with the mama being dumped or the puppies being born. Even though I was just trying to do the right thing.
“Nobody should handle those pups until they’ve been vaccinated for Parvo,” she scolded me. “Taking them to a shelter without at least vaccinating for Parvo is a death sentence.”
I felt guilty enough to respond to the Parvo woman, who immediately offered to send a check along for $100 to cover Neopar vaccine and wormer. She said the rescue operation on the west side she was affiliated with would take the whole litter and make sure they were fostered until their Parvo titers were up and they could get them vaccinated for everything else, spayed/neutered etc. and adopt them out to approved homes.
I ended up ordering the stuff she’d recommended, partly because she’d promised she would send me a check, partly because I knew Skyler’s mom would never pay for it and/or would end up buying vaccine from a local feed store that wouldn’t work, and we were running out of time. I knew I’d have to lie to Skyler and his mom Alise about how the woman had sent me “extra” vaccine someone had around or she’d never accept the charity…they won’t even take eggs from me unless I make it clear I have too many at home.
I thanked Parvo Woman for her generosity, and although I hated to admit it, I told her I was out of work and that I’d appreciate her donation for the vaccine. But have I received a check yet? No, of course not. But that’s OK. Just like that quote I posted earlier–you can’t do this sort of thing if you’re expecting any sort of repayment.
So after Alise and Skyler decided they would indeed turn over the whole litter to this rescue, I had the task of replying to everyone who’d emailed and thanking them for their interest, and letting them know the pups were no longer available. Which prompted another flurry of emails. Some people emailed just to say they were glad the dogs were getting homes–but some were really pissed off they couldn’t have one of “their” puppies….even though not one person had set foot on the farm or even committed to a time they could come look at one.
After I made the mistake of telling the quadriplegic’s mechanic friend that the pups were going to up for adoption at the “Highland Games” event later this summer, I got a frosty email back from the mechanic letting me know that because his friend is a quadriplegic, he likely wouldn’t be attending the “Highland Games.” Chalk one up for me being insensitive and thoughtless for giving them information I thought would help, I guess.
And as a bonus, I had to help worm and vaccinate the pups with the help of another neighbor who made fun of me (so sue me…I still can’t bear to give shots). Not only was I short on sleep because our neighbors in town had brought home a unrelated puppy who was crying all night long, I had Skyler-puppy crap and pee on my knees (tried to find a clean place in the yard to kneel–yeah right), my hair was in my eyes because it was windy, I had goat wormer all over my hands, and four pups were chewing on my delicious chicken-crap flavored farm shoes at all times.
When Alise’s neighbor made her comment about how I sure didn’t know much about giving shots, I flashed on all the work I’d gone through just to get the damn stuff to Alise, how I’d had to ask Parvo Woman to be sure not to mention to Alise that I’d paid for the vaccine like this was some international incident, how I’d spent time researching syringes because I didn’t know the difference between a RL and a LL syringe, how I’d had to make sure it was really was safe to dose pups with goat wormer like the woman on the phone had recommended….I didn’t know if I’d need a vet’s scrip to order the stuff, didn’t know if I had to be home to make sure UPS would leave the package if I wasn’t home. I thought about how the emails about the pups had turned into a huge extended soap opera that had required a lot of work for me to answer, and how I’d been kept awake for two nights listening to another unrelated puppy crying all night because my neighbors here are idiots.
You want to know the worst part, though? I can’t bring one of these guys home. I had almost talked myself into it…that spirited little girl pup that I was immediately drawn to was the only one of the nine who growled at me when I rolled her over on her back.
And I thought, good for you, kid.
I could learn something from her.