Mar 15 2013

Adopting the Unadoptable

By Midge L. Ritchie, DVM

I remember the first time I saw Lucy. I didn’t see her in person, I saw her on my vet school’s pet rescue website. I remember it so clearly – her cute little face staring into the camera, with a huge bandanna around her neck. Her online biography stressed that she needed to be adopted by someone who didn’t have other dogs since she had been judged to be “dog aggressive”. At the time, I wasn’t looking for another dog; I was just checking out the rescue organization, so I didn’t think much about it.

A few weeks later I was walking my two dogs, Oliver and Nellie, outside my apartment complex when they noticed another dog coming their way. Oliver and Nellie loved everyone, human or canine, so they quickly pulled me toward their expected “new friend”. As it turned out, it was Lucy. Her foster mom quickly warned me that Lucy was dog aggressive and to please be careful but it was too late – Oliver and Nellie had already approached her. However, instead of the brawl we expected, Lucy sat there wagging her tail, greeting Oliver and Nellie. Lucy’s foster mom was shocked and proceeded to tell me that this had never happened before; Lucy had NEVER allowed another dog to approach her like Oliver and Nellie did. I greeted Lucy while the foster mom told me that Lucy had been adopted twice and, unfortunately, returned twice due to her “issues” with other dogs.

pug in a wire crate isolated on white background
Over the next couple of days, all I could think of was this adorable dog and how she seemed to love Oliver and Nellie so much. Needless to say, she became my third dog. Oliver, Nellie and Lucy had been my companions throughout vet school but Nellie, the eldest, passed away shortly after I graduated. I was devastated, and Oliver and Lucy were moping around as well, their sad little faces a constant reminder of our loss.About a month after losing Nellie, I started browsing the Curly Tail Pug Rescue website. I wasn’t really ready to adopt another dog, but I was testing the waters. I read the biography of a little pug named Apple – to be honest, she sounded like a train wreck. She came from a puppy mill, was on anti-seizure medication, and had already had one foreign body surgery because she ate EVERYTHING. She also had been adopted once and had been returned after a year. Never one to shrink from a challenge, I knew immediately I was in love! I filled out my application and Apple was soon part of our family. Lucy and Apple had been deemed “difficult to adopt”, but since coming into my home they both have been thriving, affectionate, loving, wonderful dogs.

I strongly believe that the animals that you are meant to have will find you, often at a time you are least expecting them to, and Lucy and Apple are perfect examples of this. I wasn’t really looking to adopt at the time I found each of them, but once I saw them, I knew they were meant to be mine – they found me. Many people would say that Lucy and Apple are two lucky dogs, but that’s not the way I see it – I think that I’m the lucky one! Perhaps you’ll think of them when looking for your next pet and Lucy and Apple’s happy ending will remind you that the troubled, difficult adoptees may be the ones that make your family complete; if you are prepared to take the time to acclimate them well.

 iStock_000015798626XSmall, Sad Dog in Rescue Shelter

Originally from Ohio, Dr. Ritchie moved to New York City in 2000. While completing her pre-veterinary requirements at Columbia University and Hunter College, she worked at multiple veterinary practices as a technician to hone her skills. She then moved onto Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, completing her clinical training at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in August 2010. While still in veterinary school, she co-authored an article entitled “The Anatomy and Physiology of the Avian Endocrine System” for the publication Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice.

Dr. Ritchie has a strong interest in internal medicine, especially endocrinology, soft tissue surgery, emergency & critical care, and avian/exotic medicine. As a former education director at a museum she is also well-qualified for the client education that is so important to her since, in her opinion, it is the cornerstone of a trusting relationship between clients and their veterinarians.

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