Connections: The Dog Patch

Our hunt for just the right pet

The time has come for us to get a dog. I’ve had many over the years, and a rescue dog is now in order. The problem is the difference between our perceptions of what would be a perfect pet and the perceptions of the highly meticulous staff at the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons as they size us up.

To be sure, some would call us elderly and might therefore be suspicious of our ability to care for a dog. I bristle, of course, when I hear myself described that way and point out that elderly is a changeable concept. 

(Who is “elderly”? The I.R.S. has a program called Counseling for the Elderly that provides free tax advice to, get this, anyone 60 or older. Is 60 elderly? I recently found a perfect takedown of the word in a report from NPR. It quotes the executive editor of The Washington Post in 1956 telling his staff, “A lot of us old folks in our 50s do not like to be called elderly. When you are a great deal older than you are now, you will discover that the time a man becomes elderly is exactly like the place where the Earth and sky meet.”)

But back to dogs.

We have been visiting ARF on and off  for nearly two years now, in our hunt for just the right pet. In the last few weeks we have gotten charged up about the prospects of taking home a dog displaced by one of this season’s bad hurricanes, but we’ve not gotten very far. Don’t get me wrong, the people who work at ARF are helpful and patient, but we keep missing out. More than once we have arrived hoping to meet a dog we saw on the ARF website, only to learn it was out of town at an UpIsland event. Another time, a dog we were absolutely sure we would love already had been adopted. We have asked about others whose pictures and descriptions are in a big loose-leaf book on ARF’s front counter, but have been told they were too energetic or too big for the likes of us.   

We don’t want a puppy, but would prefer a calm adult dog, possibly even an older dog that others might not be drawn to. (Just don’t call it “elderly.”)

Things have changed a lot since a dog named Goodie, which ARF called a Lab mix, as I recall, came to work with me at The Star. In my opinion, she was a real Bonac dog, exactly like the dogs you would see in the back of a green pickup truck hereabouts once upon a time. We didn’t have as much off-season traffic on Main Street in those days, some 20 years ago now, and Goodie would come and go as she pleased. I had to put a stop to that, however, after someone called one day asking if the dog lounging on the sidewalk in front of Guild Hall belonged to me. Goodie was heir to the kingdom once ruled over by another ARF dog belonging to my daughter, a magnificent giant named Mookie. 

Goodie and Mookie were the only dogs, in their day, who worked at The Star, while today there is apt to be as many as three or four hanging around the editorial offices. 

The good news is that new dogs arrive at ARF all the time. Canines displaced by natural disasters have been nurtured there recently, as I mentioned, and some seem to be continually arriving from puppy mills or kill shelters. ARF was expecting 18 just last Sunday. I am sure there will be one for us there before long.