Last Sunday, Orchid and I took our early morning stroll. We stopped in the park behind Chicago’s prized Museum of Contemporary Art. I let Orchid off her leash and off she ran, stopping to look back to make certain I was not far behind. Finally, tiring, she plopped down in front of a couple, having a tug of war with their pooch. As I approached, Orchid stood up, welcomed me and then meandered over to their dog. The couple was taken aback at their dog’s positive response.

I noticed the couple wearing matching T-shirts with the word Aloha scrolled across the front. I thought the shirts were probably purchased in the Hawaiian Islands.

They asked me my dog’s name. I said, “Orchid.”

“What a great name. We were raised in Honolulu,” the woman said.

“My family and I lived in Honolulu for over ten years.  My daughters and I have seven pets between us, with Hawaiian names. Our hearts will always belong to Hawaii,” I replied.

We chatted and laughed for a while. Remembering that I had dog treats in my pocket, I offered one to my new friends. They refused explaining that their dog had a sensitive stomach. I then glanced at Orchid, who was looking up at me with baited breathe, and said, “Orchid, sit please.” And Orchid sat.

The couple could not get over Orchid’s good behavior and began to pour their heart out to me about the difficulty they were having with their dog. They were contemplating giving their pet away.

Having lived a lifetime with pets, I decided to tell them my guidelines for how one can successfully give a pet away. A successful adoption: Your pet is happy, the new owners are happy, and the past owners are overjoyed with the results.

THE STORY

One day, I decided I was left with no choice but to put one of our pets up for adoption.

Several years ago, my small daughters and I decided to add another dog to our family. We drove to a farmhouse and were led into a dark basement. There was a large cage with several pups that were six months old. In the corner of the cage sat one lonely little guy and feeling sorry for him we picked him out from all the rest.

Our new puppy moved into our sunny home. The house faced southeast with large picture windows throughout except for one small dark half bath off the garage and kitchen. That became our new dog’s home. He went from a dark cage to a dark bath and there was nothing over the course of a few years that we could do to convince this pet of ours that there was life outside the bathroom!

One sunny summer day I noticed the dog lying half dead, in the grass, in our front yard. He had eaten mushrooms. No one had noticed. It was that day I decided my poor pet was living a life of solitude and I was sad. The girls had their activities, I had mine, my husband was working all day and our other dog ignored him. I put an ad in the newspaper and started my interviews. No one fit until…

An older couple with no children walked up the path to our home and I knew after talking to them for a few moments that this might be a perfect marriage. But I never dreamed that my dog was about to embark on a honeymoon that would last for years.

They took their new pet home. They renamed him “Awesome” and called me, as I asked, every two weeks with an update.

After two weeks: The dog left a dark area of their home and was sleeping outside their bedroom door.

Week four: The dog was sleeping next to her side of the bed.

Week six: The dog was sleeping in her arms.

And the story gets better and better.

The next call they told me, “We take Awesome to the Ponderosa Steak House every Saturday night for a steak dinner.”

They continued to keep in touch with me. During our next chat, they shared, “We took Awesome to the Kentucky Derby and we bought him an outfit.”

And then, “Awesome went to all the National State Parks.”

And next, “Awesome loves the Florida Keys, especially the beach.”

I was overjoyed and reported each incident to my girls who giggled along with me.

This story had a very happy ending because I choose wisely the pick of prospective owners. You can do the same with my call to action: Value your animal friend’s feelings 100%. It is your obligation to find the right family for your furry friend. You do this with empathy and thought. Interview prospective owners, tell them the truth about all the problems, give them the option to return your pet, and do not sell your furry friend.

The young couple thanked me as we said our goodbyes on a gorgeous Sunday morning in my beautiful Chicago as I headed off to meet Shelly for our favorite Sunday morning breakfast of lox and bagels with Orchid hugging my side.

Do something GOOD today! Spend some extra time with your pet, make sure they are living a happy and healthy life in your home!