One of my first dilemmas was this: Do I pull dogs from high-kill shelters where it's easier to kill (did I say "kill?" Oh I'm sorry, I meant "euthanize.") the dogs than it is to make an effort to work with rescues and find homes for them, or do I work with those shelters that are kill-shelters but who work closely with their communities and with rescues to place as many dogs as they can and to kill as few dogs as possible? My decision was to mostly pull from Greenville County Animal Control in South Carolina. They have developed a really good system for taking in large quantities of dogs (and cats) sometimes up to 150-175 dogs PER DAY in the summer. They manage to deal with kennel cough, mange, and parvo virus outbreaks. And the director of dog rescue, Lauren, is really good about helping me with accurate temperament testing, which is super important when you have a dog with issues like my Teddy Bear. I like to save the ones that are shelter staff favorites...dogs with great personalities in not-so-exciting bodies. Some people call them the underdogs. Pitbulls are almost always underdogs. Which brings me to my second dilemma and my most recent foster puppy: Lala.
Lala is a four-month old pitbull mix. Maybe a mix, but there is unmistakably, undeniably pitbull in her appearance and her personality. The dilemma is, do I take a dog like Lala who more than any other dog needs me to help her find a home and is one of the most likely dogs to be euthanized just because of a label, or do I just keep pulling the doofy, happy-go-lucky, easy-to-place golden retriever, lab and border collie mix puppies that are super-easy to find homes for?
Here is what I have learned about her in the last week:
First of all, she didn't respond to the name Lala, but does come when you call her Lulu or Lulabelle in a southern accent, sickeningly sweet, sing-song voice. Lulu was billed to me as the most loving dog in the shelter, which she absolutely is...to people. When she sees someone coming down the sidewalk, she begins to wag her whole body. She will accept the slightest (even unintentional) invitation to climb into your lap and kiss your face or any bit of bare skin from the feet up - whatever is within reach, or lick your clothes if there's no skin she can get to. She adores my Maggie and is even more smoochy when Maggie giggles. The markings on her lips make her look like a little girl who tried to put lipstick on herself, so she even looks smoochy. She's definitely a people dog, and there is not the slightest bit of aggression towards people...absolutely ZERO aggression with kids, even when they are running and rough-housing...not even a nip.