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Rufus Found a Home

A dog who found a home
Rufus was a male, neutered, chow/mix about 2 or 3 years old. He was black with reddish highlights.

I found Rufus as a stray. I knew that the San Francisco SPCA could not take in strays but I was comforted that there was no reason to suspect that Rufus would not find a home. He was a little shy put showed no tendency to snap, not even stiffness or tension when handled. I took him to San Francisco Animal Care and Control. While waiting for intake several dogs passed him. One even lunged at him. Rufus (not then named) watched but showed only a little shyness, stepping back. When the kennel worker came and got him Rufus walked away on a regular slip lead with no trouble. When I got home I called the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I wanted to find out exactly what the process was and to offer a donation to at least cover the immediate costs. I was told that I could not count on the dog being taken by them even if I " donated my entire net worth ". The person I was speaking with was clearly frustrated but suggested I put a "CBE", (Call Before Euthanize) on him.

I called asked San Francisco Animal Care and Control to notify me before they eunthanized him. He had no collar, was significantly underweight, very matted, and had moderate flea dermatitis. After a week in the shelter Animal Care and Control called me. They told me that they would not be offering him for adoption in their facility because he was "very thin" and had the skin condition. They also told me that he had been offered to the San Franciscio SPCA but was not taken into their program. He was due to be euthanized that day. They were kind enough to allow me to come get Rufus the following day. I bailed him out. I was, and remain, more than just a little mysified as to how his rejection by the SFSPCA is consistent with the SFSPCA "adoption pact" . and I'm glad I didn't just presume I understood it.

I took Rufus to an animal hospital near my work for boarding. Because I already had two dogs and five cats he could not come home with me.

We did a blood panel (normal) a skin scraping (just flea allergy - not mange), wormed him and neutered him. He accepted examination and treatment without objection. Animal control and the animal hospital staff had already taken care of the worst of his matting. Neither have reported any problems in handling Rufus for examination, grooming or bathing. When I went over him lightly with a slicker he accepted it very well, standing still and seeming unconcerned about grooming over the remaining matted areas.

The next step was to honestly evaluate his adoptablity.

I noticed that he was not at all dog aggressive in a public setting on leash. Rufus is calm, and a bit standoffish, especially when meeting people for the first time. He seemed to have at least some idea of what "sit" means, but not much other training, pulling a bit on leash, but stopping and standing when asked. I guessed he had rarely, if ever, been indoors and it was unlikely that he was housebroken. He crated well, prefered to wait until taken out to relieve himself, but would relieve himself in the crate if left too long.

I gave Rufus a treat, he took it politely. I gave him something to chew on, then took it away, he accepted this. I picked up each of his feet and very gently squeesed them. He was unconcerned. I didn't see anything wrong with his temperament, and no one had reported anything of concern.

My first experience with him around children or other animals, was when Tony LaRussa's Animal Rescue Foundation agreed to allow us to attend their regular pet adoption day at the Concord PetSmart. He was very well behaved. He was also not nearly as shy as he first appeared. He walked up to people. He was unfazed by noisy puppies barking at him, large men looming over him, children who unexpectedly gave him a hug (yes I did stop that one). Toward the end of the day we met a family who was interested in him. By this time only Rufus and a large rambunctious Yellow Lab remained unadopted. The boys wanted to take him home right away but Mom insisted that the entire family needed to agree so they needed to talk to two more family members. They also had other things to think about, like whether they were ready to do the extra grooming he would require, training, etc.

I drove Rufus back to the animal hosptial that evening. I didn't allow myself to hope. But shortly after I returned home I received the call. They wanted Rufus. I really like the family and I could not be more pleased. They signed an adoption agreement that they will return him to me if things don't work out.

I recently checked on Rufus and he is doing well. He sleeps on one of the kids beds, has attended obedience class, and is loved.

I remain mystified at how my experience compares with the claims of the San Francisco SPCA regarding their SFSPCA "adoption pact". Rufus had highly treatable health problems, and no significant behavior problems. When taken into a busy noisy public setting he behaved as anyone would wish of their family pet. He was adopted quickly by a responsible family who have reported no significant health or temperament problems. At last report he was both healthy and a great family pet.

Rufus update 5 years later

A note from Rufus' human "mom"

Just a brief update on my beloved Rufus. All is well and he is now the proud "adopted" big brother of a Siamese mix kitten. The boys brought him home about 9 month ago from a camping trip. One of those "freebies" from some person with a box of kittens, and I almost said no. I was too worried about how Rufus would take to the cat since it was so small. I was amazed at the way he handled it. The kitten was placed near him and became hysterical - hissing and spitting and so forth. Well, Ru did the most amazing thing, he just sat there, quiet. He continued to behave that way, sitting very still and occasionally putting his big old face up to the kitten. Within about 48 hours the cat calmed down and started sniffing him and coming up to him. To make a long story short, he bonded with "Mr. Dot" and they are the best of friends. It is quite funny to see us all sitting together. Rufus sits at my feet and the cat at his. What a pair. They play all day in the yard. He is so happy to have a buddy, and Mr. Dot (who has 6 toes by the way) just worships Rufus.

The above update had me grinning from ear to ear


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Copyright © 1997-2003, Diane Blackman     Created: December 30, 1997     Updated January 10, 2006

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