The joy – and adventure – of adopting a puppy

For the first time in years, I forgot my column deadline. I have a good excuse, though. We were busy welcoming a new member to the Lemen/Broyles family. No, I did not have a baby. Nor did any other being living under our roof. But we were joined this week by an adorable Labrador mix puppy, whom we have decided to name Rilian.

Lucy has been lobbying for a puppy for a long time, and I am not sure whether it began before or after she started lobbying for a kitten. That lobbying effort was successful, and we ended up getting a kitten from the Lowell Humane Society, which happened to have some kittens the day I called them. (They are also on my way home from work.) I like giving unwanted animals a home, so I checked with them about a puppy, as well as with the Nashua Humane Society. Puppies, if you do not want a purebred, are not all that easy to find. (Kittens are not, either – I just happened to get lucky when we were looking for one.)

But now that Anubis, formerly Anderson, is happily ensconced in our home, we decided that we all wanted a dog. (Except, perhaps for Anubis – more on that later.) So we went looking for puppies, and finally decided that we needed to go through a rescue organization.

Lucy, Bill and I were all in basic agreement about the kind of dog we wanted. No tiny dogs – Bill because he was afraid that he’d step on it, and me on the grounds that nothing looks sillier than a large woman walking a tiny dog. We also wanted a mixed-breed dog, because we love them, so we didn’t check out the pure bred rescue organizations. We wanted a dog that was part Labrador or Golden retriever. We wanted a puppy, because we wanted to train one ourselves. Other than that, we had no real criteria.

We ended up going through Great Dog New England Rescue, and I was surprised to discover the length of the puppy adoption process. Of course, you start by going to a website that features pictures of adorable puppies, and you fall in love with one. Inevitably, you get turned down for that puppy, because its picture has been up longer than you have been looking. But after a few tries, you find a dog that you want that’s still available, and then you’re assigned an adoption counselor, who talks to you. When the counselor is comfortable with you as a potential dog owner, you chat with your potential pet’s foster parents, and then, the final step in the process is a home interview.

We were slightly nervous about the home visit. Not because we have anything to hide, but because it’s the final step in the process. We ran around madly cleaning and putting things away, but because we still have not found places for things from our parents’ houses, we look a little, well, hoardy.

We explained this to Meaghan, who did our home visit, and she was fine. She toured the entire house, and agreed that it would be great fun for a dog. So, about an hour and a half after she left, we got the approval and were told we could pick up our puppy the next day.

We drove down to Massachusetts after a quick stop at the pet store, and once we were in the building, I could hardly contain myself. So many happy people in one place. I was surrounded by other people waiting for their dogs, and once we exchanged paperwork, they took the leash that we had provided and led out a beautiful black (and slightly damp) Arthur (that’s Rilian’s former name).

He was even more adorable than his pictures! At least as happy to see us as we were him. After a little bit of excitement, he calmed down and slept next to Lucy all the way home. When we led him around the yard, he was excited. When we opened the door to let him in, out popped Anubis, whose back fur went up and whose tail swelled to three times its normal size.

We are hoping that they’ll get used to each other soon. But they’ll have to. This is their forever home.

June Lemen is a longtime columnist for The Telegraph.