So growing up rural means you generally need to have at least one dog; that's just making sure rattlesnakes avoid you, water moccasins avoid you, feral dogs and cats avoid you, and a decent burglar alarm. Specifically, a dog that could survive: a middle-large to large dog.

Dogs in the Country

At any given time growing up, I had several dogs. I use 'several' because honestly, it could be anywhere from three to five on any given day; people who dog-dump really need to stop that shit. The result: really sweet half-grown dogs kind of showing up, and once my dad checked them out, we'd feed them and they'd stay.

We always had one we bought, however: a registered golden retriever (pet quality) because no matter what, Dad wanted at least one dog at all times with guaranteed health and temperament from a local breeder who understood this dog would be subject to rural life and children. AKA a dog that would follow his kids through fields and behind barns and over dale forever and be ridiculously happy constantly and also Dad could find us easily by yelling for the dog and seeing what direction it came from. Yes, that worked.

Then there was the perfect storm of Zack and Frieda. Zack was a golden retriever who could do backflips. Frieda was a random stray that appeared and was breathtakingly intelligent (Zack...less so), ungodly good with kids, and utterly ruthless with predators. And apparently--much to all our surprise--Zack wasn't fixed. You see where this is going.

(I am one hundred percent sure that was one of those weird conflations of random events and not deliberate, as the breeder wasn't that kind of person and had an excellent reputation.)

This pairing begat fifteen--FIF-FUCKING-TEEN--puppies in one litter. Fortunately, they were surprisingly hot commodities among rural family friends since they knew both our dogs and their temperament and Frieda, like Zack, was an excellent stalker. We kept one, Blackie, which you can guess the color by the name. Golden Retriever body, solid black, as smart as Frieda, and also could do backflips. He seriously would do backflips, it was incredible.

Again, the dog choice was practical; if you live out where rattlesnakes and water moccasins and feral dog packs (and the occasional loose horse or really bitter cow) ran around, you got a goddamn dog, and one suited to running through cotton fields, sunflower fields, over hills, down gulleys, and into streams, tanks, and lakes as well as chasing children and being harnessed to a wagon when one of them, no names, was super into Little House on the Prairie and wore a bonnet. In other words: no small dogs. When we moved to Austin (now an adult), I lucked into a German Shepherd at the shelter when I was looking for a dog for my dad.

My mother, all this time unbeknownst to me, has always wanted a small dog: a teacup poodle or--much much more--a Maltese. When we lived in the country, it wasn't practical; when we moved and kids still lived with her (multiple kids), it wasn't a good idea; now, however, she only lives with one child over the age of ten and my youngest sister. She is ready for her Maltese lap dreams to come true.

(The first time she showed interest a few years ago, things interfered, so this is technically Try Two At Maltese Dreams)

Mild digression: despite the fact she is not actually a cat person, Mom has four cats.

You're asking how. Fine.

The Four Cat Saga

1.) Child mind-whammied her and they adopted one when Child was in his early teens. I"m not kidding, her utterly baffled expression when they brought it home still haunts me. That cat, however, she likes and it does an excellent job of scaring the fuck out of mice, rats, and sometimes, raccoons. IT's also friendly.

2.) My eldest niece's cat moved in with my Mom even though niece lived elsewhere (for reasons unclear to anyone) then the cat vanished and niece was super upset. My sister got my niece a second cat to make up for it, which also lives with Mom even though my niece does not live with Mom and worse, niece really doesn't like it.

To be fair, I can't blame her: it's a very aloof cat, and when the synonym of 'cat' is 'aloof', that's saying something. It isn't hostile or mean or a scratcher or a biter, but it doesn't really like anyone. It will allow you to pet it if you find it but does not come for cuddles or rubbing or petting or anything and generally avoids everyone in a very snobby-cat way. I honestly think my sister just walked into the shelter and picked the first cat that looked vaguely like the lost one without so much as touching it first.

3.) Because my niece hated the above cat, my sister got her another cat--yes, that happened--which she also doesn't like for reasons I'm not sure of but may be my sister needs to stop buying random ass cats. It's a normal cat of normal aloofness.

4.) Random neighbor cat that they just don't come to get it anymore. One block away. Won't come get their goddamn cat. It currently exists in that nebulous space of 'not really ours so sort of a guest cat?' but also 'won't fucking leave, stay away, or anyone come and get it and don't want it to starve so we feed it so maybe sort of ours?'. However, it's super affectionate and playful--like, opposite of two--so there's that.

My mission: to get my mom a tiny dog. An impractical dog. An overbred dog, even. A dog that sits on laps like animate fur and barks at a painfully high pitch and you can brush and groom and literally could fit in a purse. An adult, not puppy. I'll take a maltipoo or yorkipoo or maltiyork (not sure of name????) or shi-maltz or basically any single breed or crossbreed from a reputable breeder OR that shows up in a rescue or shelter and has been evaluated for temperament et al that involves a Maltese and/or Yorkie; it must be tiny and useless as other that adorableness. Pretty easy, you'd think.

I want to do this without having to take out a loan: not easy.

Here is what I learned about shelters: they almost never have tiny dogs except chihuahuas and vaguely impossible/unholy/wtf chihuahua crossbreeds, because rescues get them before they go public.

(Note: It's not that chihuahuas aren't awesome, I've been around them/played with them my entire life, but if you've met one, you understand that's a dog you have to want specifically for what it is, be ready for, and commit to. It's made of nothing but energy and barking, and unless you can be damn sure of the temperament, not one to be around anyone under ten at best as they get cranky. Like, yeah, there are exceptions--I've seen some zen Chihuahuas--but you really can't count on that.

Exception: one of the random dogs that appeared in my life when I lived in the country was a dachshund-chihuahua mix and broke all the laws of both breeds by being what you might consider a particularly lazy sausage-shaped, chihuahua-headed sloth of good humor who preferred to be supine above all things. People who met it were utterly baffled by its existence, and I doubt I shall ever see it's like again.)

So far, I have learned this about rescues from Mom (and from contacting them or reading their literature): it takes less effort to get a goddamn passport (and possibly, security clearance at the Pentagon) than to secure a tiny dog.

One required an application, home visit/home assessment, family assessment, and then you could meet the dog (FOR THE FIRST TIME) under controlled conditions and perhaps at some point may actually get it no promises. One also had a background check. One had super strict rules about having other pets in the home across the board, not just relative to a dog's evaluation of temperament. All required some genuinely unsettling contracts you had to sign. Some had waiting lists that apparently can take decades. Fee ranged from $300-$600. This is only the stuff I remember, by the way, and that doesn't take into account how they make you feel really super judged when no, you're not really interested in the dog with some problems with children/other animals/existence and has a speckled history when it comes to using his teeth or bladder.

So reputable breeders and possibly taking out a loan for a pet-quality dog or retired show dog: oh God and I have no idea. See, that would require them answering inquiries about their dogs (as their sites have a tendency not to want to put up prices or even vague price ranges), which seems to be something of a problem since it can take a month after I ask about the ones I saw on the site for them to tell me all their dogs are gone like months ago (so why didn't you update your goddamn site already?) or the site says 'they could have dogs please inquire' but same problem as above.

Which means I'm on craigslist, even though it makes me nervous for various reasons including but not limited to:

1.) unless they're a reputable breeder, I could be hitting a goddamn puppy mill or backyard breeder and no. Fortunately, I am not in the market for puppies of any kind so not much of a worry.

2.) if it's a rehoming of an adult (and I assume 'one' isn't true), I have no idea about individual temperament or judge the probability using the dog's parents and generally you need more than a few minutes to judge how a dog reacts to cats, children, yards, et al. Yes, the seller said it's great with pets and kids, but don't they all? Who the hell says 'dog is hostile to the Achilles tendon and eats baby toes' or 'likes to pee in snoring mouths' or 'tried to kill me in my sleep with its tiny teeth, picture of scars available on request' and expects a response, much less anyone to pay $750 for their little psychopath?

3.) fee is $300 to $900 and are you fucking kidding me?? For your used, potentially demon-spawned luxuriously furred monster??????

It's so frustrating because yes, I get this isn't serious or a huge issue, but growing up, we were working class to poor most of the time. My mom didn't get to buy new clothes for years, she didn't get to have nice things or do nice things (she had to worry about paying bills and if the phone would get turned off and how much my dad would spend whether he was employed or not), she worked full time to make ends meet while clinically depressed, with anxiety, and subject to panic attacks sometimes on a daily basis (all this while on medication), and honestly, I don't think she actually liked living in the country and that doesn't include what little but very unpleasant knowledge I have of her childhood. Yes, now she's doing wonderfully financially, she can pay all her bills and even has a stock account, is in a better place and everything, but that kind of history lingers.

So by God, I want her to get her luxury dream dog. An impractical dog. A tiny dog whose only duties are to be goddamn adorable and sit in her lap and let her brush it's fur or whatever. And for less than two semesters at a community college, please.
blueraccoon: (Default)

From: [personal profile] blueraccoon
Date: 2019-03-16 05:38 pm (UTC)
if you haven't already, check out and Both of them have listings for dogs that go through rescues and might not be in local shelters, and thus increase your chances of finding the kind of dog you want.

And yeah, a reputable rescue will require a house check and vet references if you have them and like mine required a personal reference from someone who owned a pet I think. We paid about $300 for Buddy's adoption fee. On the other hand, that money also goes to pay for medical bills the rescue incurred taking care of him and their other dogs, since they take on a lot of dogs who need extensive medical care (like Buddy did), along with just basic food and so on. It's really not like the rescues are making money off the dogs, I promise you, and I also promise you a "reputable breeder" will cost twice as much if not more.
blueraccoon: (Default)

From: [personal profile] blueraccoon
Date: 2019-03-16 11:02 pm (UTC)
I mean it's your choice. I couldn't do it. But I have very strong feelings about breeding pets. I've seen too many breeder dogs discarded,especially the smaller ones.
aerialiste: love isn't the answer, it's the problem (Default)

From: [personal profile] aerialiste
Date: 2019-03-16 06:06 pm (UTC)
personal experience: a very good small dog to have, if you can find one, is a toy English-bred poodle. source: I grew up with one and she was the smartest fucking dog I've ever known, very calm, easy to groom (we just kept her perpetually in a puppy clip) and did I mention smart. sometimes breeders have puppies that aren't physically show-quality but therefore make great pets? this is what happened with Quincy—his confirmation isn't right and his eyes are too small, if you can believe that; but he's a perfectly adequate service dog, except he barks at robots.

domarzione: (Default)

From: [personal profile] domarzione
Date: 2019-03-16 06:09 pm (UTC)
I brought home my two rescue cats yesterday and I ended up adopting them from two hours away because all of the cat rescues by me wanted home visits and ten-page questionnaires and ridiculous contracts and basically buying my apartment was easier and less invasive than what they wanted. So I asked my friends on facebook where to go and that's how I ended up with these two yahoos.
domarzione: (Default)

From: [personal profile] domarzione
Date: 2019-03-16 09:31 pm (UTC)
Around here, the place to go is the North Shore Animal League, which does not require home visits or long questionnaires or crazy stuff. It's where I would have gone if I hadn't met my duo. I'm pretty sure the NSAL has national affiliates, though. There's also the Humane Society. Have you looked on Petfinder?

I have one on my lap trying to type on the desktop and demanding scritches, another at my feet wondering when it's his turn. (Two black 8-month olds, bonded, one with one eye. Affectionate as all get-out and I cannot understand why nobody wanted them.) Okay, one of them keeps reaching out to tap at 'post comment' on the screen...

domarzione: (Default)

From: [personal profile] domarzione
Date: 2019-03-17 01:07 am (UTC) ?

My boys are Archie and Nero. :)
j00j: rainbow over east berlin plattenbau apartments (Default)

From: [personal profile] j00j
Date: 2019-03-19 11:33 am (UTC)
Yeah, I volunteered at a shelter for years so I get why people do the epic questionnaire and reserve the right do do home visits and shit... but wound up getting my cat from a friend of a friend who rescues special needs cats. I did the questionnaire and gave them references but the friend-of-a-friend thing minimized the red tape (also poor Aurora had been in foster care forever due to not being good at other animals or kids). I assume if networking were an option for [personal profile] seperis it would be done already!
edited at: Date: 2019-03-19 11:33 am (UTC)
bonibaru: boot heel! (Default)

From: [personal profile] bonibaru
Date: 2019-03-16 07:14 pm (UTC)
I mean, but dogs aren't "used" any more than foster kids are "used" and implied to be of lesser value. It's not a car. The value doesn't go down when you drive the dog off the lot.

I get what you're saying in principle and I love you, but that descriptor made my heart ache.

$300 is not an unfair ask for a dog on CL or anywhere - remember, people listing there are trying to avoid scammers and people looking for bait dogs and so on. $900 smacks to me of "we bought this from a pet store/etc and are trying to recoup some loss" though. Even I let my adult retired cats go for about ~$300 which is cost of shots/neuter/chip. Although half the time after screening and finding an amazing home I end up letting them go and eating the cost anyway.

Every reputable rescue requires home visits and having worked in rescue I can't blame them. I do home visits for the tri-state Dobie club when they need them in my area. I have a 4 page form to fill out and I take photos. A Dobie is a different animal than a toy thingy but the idea of the people being who they say they are, having the space and time and safe place for the dog, is no less important just because of size. Rescues pour their heart and soul and money and time into those dogs. You can't blame them for wanting to make sure that where they're going is better than where they are now, and that they won't be coming back in a few days/weeks/months to do it all over again.
edited at: Date: 2019-03-16 07:15 pm (UTC)
bonibaru: boot heel! (Default)

From: [personal profile] bonibaru
Date: 2019-03-16 07:21 pm (UTC)
A $300 dog can still cost you $3000 in vet bills if it's been poorly bred. My rottie is the light of my life and yeah she was $2500 but I have known her breeder (one of my vet's techinicans) for 20 years, she's healthy, sound, stable tempered, as well as gorgeous - the last Dobie I had was $100, had demodex when I got him which was $1200 in OOP meds and treatments and left him with chronic dry irritable skin, developed wobblers which left him crippled & needing assistance to walk from the age of 7, until he had a heart attack from his inherited DCM in the living room and died in my weeping arms before his 10th birthday. What a bargain. I bought a well bred dog because I was tired of that. I've had 6 rescue and shelter Dobies and none of them lived past 12 and 4 of them died of hereditary heart issues. It's not a guarantee nothing will ever go wrong with her but after that latest heartbreak I just wanted a better chance of stacking the deck in my favor. I'm 50; I'm not getting another puppy, I may never have another dog after this one. I want this dog for 20 years and I want those years to be as pain free and fun as possible. Finding a breeder is a crap shoot; being a breeder, I know lots of people, so it made the search better. If you decide to go that route, shout at me. I can reach out to people who can reach out to people who will know where to go.
edited at: Date: 2019-03-16 07:24 pm (UTC)
bonibaru: boot heel! (Default)

From: [personal profile] bonibaru
Date: 2019-03-17 03:54 am (UTC)
I can ask a couple of my friends who hang around with smaller dog people. I have a super close friend who does yorkies for 30 years who knows like ... everyone. Remind me (privately if you want) of your geography - I think I know it but not 100% sure in my old age.
bonibaru: by shirasade (zhuyilong)

From: [personal profile] bonibaru
Date: 2019-03-17 03:57 am (UTC)
Oof, heartworms is a toughie. I'm so sorry. What a good boy Luke was! I wouldn't trade any of mine either, even with the sadness when they go, because there's so much love when they are here <3 I have got plans in place for every animal I have: if I go, or am incapacitated, who gets called and what the arrangements are (some have to go back to their original breeders, some are earmarked already for certain friends on retirement, etc) - there's a folder about their care that's thicker than my folder with *my* care plan in it, lol. I mean 50 isn't old but some days I FEEL IT, ya know?
bonibaru: boot heel! (Default)

From: [personal profile] bonibaru
Date: 2019-03-17 03:53 am (UTC)
Fair :)
kara_mckay: (Default)

From: [personal profile] kara_mckay
Date: 2019-03-17 12:39 am (UTC)
Once upon a time, a long time ago, we had a particularly adventuresome and intrepid cat named Cow who managed to get himself picked up and delivered to a shelter in an entirely different town while out on a territory expansion trip. We found out when we saw his picture in the paper. The shelter was calling him Oreo and advertising him as The Pet of the Week.

He wasn't much more than a somewhat spoiled barn cat, but we were all fond of Cow, and Rick called the shelter right away to tell them they had our animal. We had him home 24 hours later, but ye gods! It took sixty dollars and a contract signed in blood, and to add insult to injury, we only got 98.7% of him back. Cow was righteously pissed about that, too -- so much so that he'd been beating ass on all the other cats in the shelter's cat room more or less nonstop from the time he woke up after surgery until we walked through the door. I think that might have contributed to why we got him back as easily (!) as we did even though Rick was fairly straight up with the shelter about the fact that they had themselves a barn cat with attitude, not a Persian show cat with moods.

He was worthless after that. Damned thing spent the rest of his life eating, lying on our couch, eating some more, and telling the story of how he'd gone out for a night on the town one fine evening and ended up spending a week in jail.
norabombay: (Default)

From: [personal profile] norabombay
Date: 2019-03-17 04:03 am (UTC)
This 'how do I get an adult dog, apartment sized' in a responsible manner is an ongoing problem. Big dog, and random pit mix? All over the place. In parts of the country, Chiuaha's are everywhere.

But the mix of appropriate size-- which is not an optional luxury, I live in a high rise and do not need or want a big dog-- and tempermant, and maybe vague house breaking? It's hard to find.

I loved Tucker, but his ass peed on everything I owned for 15 years.

In the DC area, there are basically zero small dogs in shelters, and the big ones are often imported from rural areas- the whole spay/neuter thing works.

The whole 'crazy shit rescues want' is a thing that is at this point practically counter productive. I have a friend in Austin who does cat rescue/hospice foster and all that stuff. Dogs, well they have size issues. But a cat is a cat is a cat, and at what poitn do you have enough information to figure out it's good enough? A friend here in DC had been volunteering weekly with the local cat group, applied for a new cat, got dicked about for like a month, and just took a kitten off someone elses hands, becaus honestly- if you trust her to take them to petsmart to adopt out, you trust enough to let her have a middle aged cat ot keep--

Which is a long way of saying that you are probably best off saving money and maybe going to shows....
out_there: B-Day Present '05 (Default)

From: [personal profile] out_there
Date: 2019-03-17 10:45 am (UTC)
We have two Maltese shih Tzu crosses, but we got them as puppies. One was $1200 (most adorable thing you've ever seen) and the other was $800 (I suspect there something else in the mix other than pure Maltese or shih Tzu because he's got big eyes and a very flat nose -- tiny and terribly cute, but there might be a touch of pug.)

We got both through online adds (One through gumtree and the other through a pet search site) but both were basically pet owners who's pets had got pregnant.

Good luck finding your mum the little pointless dog of her dreams.
edited at: Date: 2019-03-17 10:52 am (UTC)

From: [personal profile] rissabby
Date: 2019-03-18 09:56 am (UTC)
My son and I got our animals from Craig's List in Portland, Oregon. He got a rough coated Jack Russell, about 6 years old for $100 nine years ago. He's a calm, easy-going, quiet and wonderful homebody dog. Not very JRTish at all. I got a pure bred Russian Blue cat for free (but I checked every day for about three years).

Even though we got lucky on CraigsList, it's a very mixed bag, at least in my town. There are semi-organized people who call themselves rescues. People often refer to their animals as 'rescued' but it has a wide variety of meanings. There are also scummy scammers. And, people who don't seem to know anything about their animals. The legit, breed specific (boujee) rescues don't advertise on CL.

But, I think CL is worth checking every day. And, expanding your range is good.
I looked at CL tonight for adult small dogs to see what was there. There were two Pom or Pom-mixes, each about 6 pounds. One was $250, the other didn't state the price (re-homing fee). There was a Havanese for $150. And, a very beautiful long-haired auburn-red dachshund for $150. No poodles tonight. That's three or four possibles out of over 300 posts.

Good Luck. *\o/*
edited at: (more info) Date: 2019-03-18 10:02 am (UTC)
krait: a sea snake (krait) swimming (Default)

From: [personal profile] krait
Date: 2019-03-19 05:21 am (UTC)
I feel you!

I actually work for a no-kill shelter, so I have seen all of this from the other end, as it were! From the endless parade of people asking where we 'keep' the 'little small dogs' and whether we have 'little puppies that don't grow' (a popular phrase that drives me nuts), all the way to the people trying to surrender their $900 purebred because A) it's all too clearly the product of a backyard breeder, or B) it turns out six months of not training your cute puppy produces an uncute teenage canine nightmare with a total lack of manners, what a surprise. (Or sometimes C: Grandma died and the family doesn't want her pets.)

My local city-run shelter generally does have a steady supply of smaller dogs, but they are adopted almost as fast as they come in even so. (Which is a good thing; the local shelter also historically has a high euthanasia rate, so at least the small dogs have good odds of getting out.) They do same-day adoption and don't have much by way of requirements beyond "fill out this form and give us money" unless you're trying to adopt a pit bull.

I've lived in enough places to have noticed that breeds of dog, like types of produce, are regional. My second college town was practically drowning in Miniature Schnauzers; the rescue I work at now rarely gets small dogs, but if we do they're either Shih Tzus or Chihuahuas. Another place I lived seemed to have more Beagles per square mile than laws of physics should allow. It wouldn't hurt to check Petfinder and see whether you spot a locational trend to Maltese listings, and then target that area's shelters/rescues/breeders that aren't necessarily on Petfinder!

Searching for high-volume, high-kill shelters via Google/news articles/rescue blogs might be helpful, too. The more dogs they take in, the more they're going to get a little of everything (advice I often give to those 'little small dog' searchers who come to my workplace!) You'll get less for your money - the animal will probably not be temperament tested, and at the extreme end the shelter may not even provide spay/neuter - but on the other hand you'll also pay a lot less. Shelters want their numbers to look good, and the more 'live outcomes' they have on the tally sheet at the end of the month the fewer angry people they have yelling at them, so they're generally more interested in getting the dog out of the kennel than in making back the cost of its care. (This really, ahaha, bites, for rescue groups, because we get people coming in asking why we don't have $35 adoptions like 'the other shelter.' That would be because your taxes are paying the other $75 of your adoption fee at the shelter; we don't get your tax money, so we can't afford to offer steeply discounted adoptions!)

Anyway! I wish you and your mother the best of luck in your Maltese hunting. :D

I will advise against any kind of Yorkie/mix, however, because I have seen so many people fall for the "Yorkie" nickname and forget that the name ends with Terrier. They are, like all terriers, dogs that want jobs and will make noise about it. They are not lap ornaments. (Individual temperaments do vary, of course! But by and large there are trends and I have yet to meet a Yorkie that wasn't neurotic if it wasn't hyperactive/destructive. They're from a working-dog background, they're really not mentally designed to be happy sitting around on the sofa.)

I'm also not a fan of "designer mixes," because they negate all the qualities that make purebreds worth paying for. No breeder can hand-select which genes the offspring inherit (this is, famously, why "Labradoodles" were a huge failure at their original purpose: they couldn't stabilise the desired traits, because mixes don't breed true) so you have no guarantees of anything, from coat type to temperament. Yet they charge you almost as much as a purebred would cost (and they have almost the same risks of poor health that a purebred has). I firmly believe that if you want a mix, opt for a random-bred one who's been mixed for several generations.

I have no idea where you're located, but just in case it's near me I will keep an eye on my local shelter's adoptables! :D


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