My childhood dog, Jingles, with my baby sister, Jennifer, in 1975!
My first hope was to find a rescue dog, like my lovable childhood pup, Jingles.
Jingles was part Collie and part Irish Setter. She had the sweetest disposition and she filled my childhood home with many moments of joy (more on Jingles later!).
Long a Labrador lover, I was also considering a Lab mix with the affable traits of one of my best buddies, an incredible Lab/Pit mix named Stanley, who lives on a large, heavenly ranch with my friends Dan and Jen.
Stanley’s eyes, nose and fur are dark black. His spirit is incredibly sweet, playful and loving and I cherish every moment I get to spend with him — so any pup with Stanley’s traits were definitely was what I’d hoped to find.
I also preferred an adult dog who’d already had basic training, so I wouldn’t have to deal with accidents in the house.
I set out with abandon to find my rescue dog, determined to return home with my pup later that Saturday.
That didn’t work out so well.
Covid Wreaked Havoc on the Pet Adoption Process
The covid pandemic was the best time in history to be a rescue dog — but not so good for people looking for rescues to bring home.
As millions worked from home, many decided it was time to bring pets into their family.
Humans, isolated at home, were especially longing for the love, affection and many other benefits companion animals bring.
I searched Facebook and a few other online resources to locate rescue organizations near me. Family members and friends forwarded me adoption candidates as they came across them, as well.
However, every single time I saw a pup I wanted to visit — and every time I replied to the rescue organization’s contact with a completed application — nobody got back to me.
I had a big yard for a dog to run in, I made clear in my applications. I’d long been a dog lover and would give the pup excellent care and love. I’d give the rescue dog the best life any dog could hope for, I made loud and clear.
But nobody got back to me.
The rejections went on for more than a month — I admit to being offended that the wonderful people who were fostering dogs were determining they could find a better home to place their foster pet than my home!
A friend of mine who fosters dogs told me it wasn’t that I was being rejected, but that so many applications had been coming in that the good-hearted foster people — who put in incredible amounts of time to care for pets in need of permanent homes — were simply overwhelmed with reams of paperwork.
Undaunted, I worked harder to find a pup to bring home.
And Then I Found Thurber
One Saturday morning, I woke early and made an especially strong cup of coffee and sat down again in front of my computer.
I was determined to find my canine companion that day.
I searched high and low for any whiff of an available dog I could adopt.
I doubled down on emails and phone calls to the two or three rescue organizations in my area — with zero luck.
I emailed and called friends and friends of friends to see if anyone knew anybody who was looking to place an adult dog.
In desperation, I turned to craigslist.com, a free online classified ad site. I searched “dog adoption” and came across a handful of ads.
I became immediately suspicious of scammers trying to take exploit people’s emotional longing to bring a loving pet into their home.
One ad featured a black Lab/Pit mix. It had been posted for some time and it seemed off to me. I contacted the ad’s poster through an anonymous craigslist email — the ad poster didn’t share a phone number, which made me suspicious — and the generic response gave me the sense something was fishy about this person.
I found another ad that featured really cute mixed puppies, but had the very same reaction. I assumed that, if these were scammers, the scammers would attempt to establish a dialogue and then request something, such as, “We only have one puppy left. To secure him, send money to…”
Then I found another ad: “Labrador Puppies!”
The advertisement had no pictures. The text was brief. It said simply that a human couple’s two dogs, Tank, the dad and Sunny, the mom, had given birth to their second and last litter on Christmas Day, 2020. It said their location was Punxsutawney, PA, about 90 minutes north of my home in Pittsburgh.
I phoned the number that was listed. A gruff older man answered. His name was Mike. As he responded to my questions, he sounded like he didn’t much care to talk on the phone. He sounded legitimate!
He told me the puppies were only 8 days old, but five of them had already been claimed. Only four remained, all boys.
He said I was welcome to call some of the humans who took in Tank and Sunny’s pups from the first litter, and I did. They raved about the temperament and intelligence of Tank and Sunny’s pups. These people raved about Mike and his wife, Maryanne, too — who were now part of their families.
I called Mike back right away.
“Please give me first dibs on the four pups that remain,” I told him. “I will drive up to meet you and the pups first thing tomorrow.”
When I hung up the phone, I was more excited than I’d been at the age of 10 in 1972 — the night my Father returned home after a long drive to the country with our new puppy, Jingles, the Collie-Irish setter mix!