Don't throw your puppies on the highway!

Don't throw your puppies on the highway!
Who could resist this beautiful foxy face?

My title's command responds to a news report heard on the radio as I traveled my western DuPage/eastern Kane County round of errands and chores this past week. Apparently, someone threw a puppy out the window of his truck when passing through the North Avenue/Rt 83 intersection. I understand the puppy has been caught, taken to a local shelter, and will be fine despite the traumatic separation from its previous home.

But instead of ranting about all the bad ways people choose to surrender/abandon their now-unwanted pets, I’d like to chronicle an example of a responsible family transferring their pet the right way. Not that this is the only right way, but it’s the one I am most closely connected to right now.

My involvement with this family came about because my husband Bill decided we should get another dog soon, so we’re not dogless when our current [older] dog Crystal is no more. In the past two weeks, we looked at many local and not-so-local pet rescues websites—and a few shiba inu breeders’ sites. Our first dog Amber looked a lot like a shiba, which piqued my interest in the breed.

I’m firm on “only female dogs” so gender did not get discussed. We debated puppy versus adult dog and preferred size. We saw some beautiful goldens and other larger and/or long-coated dogs, but I prefer a short-coated dog after all Crystal’s fluff—and 20-30 lbs is the “Goldilocks” range for me: not too big, not too small.

And, while puppies are adorable, potty training is not where I want to put my main efforts these days. So, reluctantly, we turned away from the shiba inu breeder pages and their sweet, bear-faced puppies to look for charming fox-faced full-grown dogs. I started looking at the breed rescue pages.

Meanwhile, a family in South Dakota had, reluctantly, faced the fact that the active young dog acquired by their eldest offspring (now at college and unable to bring her shiba along) did not fit their family’s often- away-from-home work and school schedule. So, right around Thanksgiving, the mother posted Sadie’s photo and brief description on the courtesy listings page of the national shiba inu rescue group—a sort of classified ad posting for individuals needing to find alternative placement for their shibas.

When I saw Sadie’s foxy little face and read that she was less than 2 years old, I knew I’d found the dog I wanted. OK, she was in SD, but our son Charlie is at school in MN and we’re not afraid of driving. The question then became, was she still available? I’ve learned that listings go up on the Internet faster than they get taken down and didn’t want to count on anything.

An exchange of emails indicated that Sadie still needed a new home, so I called and talked with the mother long enough for me to know I really wanted this dog—and for her to feel that their Sadie would be getting a new family who would love and care for her.

The next step: arranging a hand-off time and location. Aberdeen is 12 hours and change from Chicago, even the western suburbs—but only a little over 5 from Minneapolis. Could we go get the dog on a trip to pick up or return Charlie? What were Sadie’s family’s plans over the next few weeks?

The daughter who bought the puppy expressed a strong desire for a last quality-time weekend with her dog over Christmas. Fair enough. I had to give up two cats once and I know that saying goodbye is hard. So is learning that, while sometimes the family can cope with your pet when you head out to college (that would be ferret Nicolai, originally Charlie’s and now mostly mine), other times the family has to admit that the pet would do better in a new home, however emotionally attached they may be.

So the plan is for us to meet in Wisconsin on December 27 for the transfer of ownership. That will be a long travel day for young Sadie, but she will be warmly welcomed at our end. And the South Dakota family gets a heartfelt thank you from the Prices for sharing their much-loved Sadie with us—and for giving me an example of how to be responsible after deciding that a dog doesn’t fit in their family’s life. Sadie will travel the highways by truck, but to a lovingly planned destination—directly to her new family.