Less adoptable? Who says?

Many of you have adopted pets in your lives. Have any of you adopted what is generally considered to be a “less adoptable” pet? If you have, what has that experience been like? If you have not, what has stopped you?

According to Petfinder, a less adoptable pet fits into one of the broad categories of animals that generally wait longer to find their families, and have worse luck at being adopted at all. These include senior animals, large black dogs of any breed, pit bulls or pit bull mixes, and special needs animals (including blind, deaf, or limited mobility pets).

Our Little Zee is “less adoptable” not only under one criteria, but under three different ones – she is eight years old, which makes her officially a “senior,” she is a pit bull type dog, and she needs a little bit of help getting around (up and down stairs especially), due to her neuro condition. But being the happy, optimistic, bumbly little charmer that she is, she has no idea that she is “less adoptable” in so many ways. She is perfectly happy in her own skin, and thinks that she is just perfect. That’s the Little Zee way.

And to be honest, we consider Little Zee to be our most adoptable foster dog yet. She is an absolute delight in the house, and needs very little care. She is quiet and snuggly, adores people, is so gentle on a leash, and is happy just to be with us, quickly curling up for a nap on the floor, wherever we are. She does not beg, does not chew or scratch, does not steal slippers, toys, or food, does not mind being handled, picked up, bumped into, or having her tail pulled. She has no anxious inclinations, and does not need to be babied with stuffed kongs or other activities when we leave. She does her outdoor business as soon as she steps outside, and does not have accidents in our house. She loves to go for walks, but is content with just a few 10 minute strolls a day if that’s all we can offer. She sleeps like a rock all through the night, and could easily keep sleeping well past the alarm clock, even if she has been snuggled in for 12+ hours. She is so happy and silly that everybody falls in love with her. She is small in size and goofy in personality, so she intimidates almost nobody. We could go on. So answer this—what about this description makes Zee so unadoptable?

In case you hadn’t heard, this week is officially “Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week” at Petfinder. All this week, Petfinder is featuring animals who fit the aforementioned criteria prominently on their website, in order to encourage potential adopters to think twice about these lovely animals who just don’t have as good of a shot otherwise. We are thrilled that Petfinder has chosen to do this, and have already scrolled through some of the dogs in the gallery and picked out a few dozen that we ourselves would love to adopt.

But we do think that calling these animals “less adoptable” may not be the best term of art, since it has a slightly negative connotation. Next year, what if Petfinder hosted “Adopt a Diamond-in-the-Rough Week” instead?

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32 responses

  1. All my pets pretty much fall in the ‘less adoptable’ category: a large black german shepherd mix, a small dark pit mix, and two black cats. My previous shepherd had been labeled ‘suspicious/aggressive’. A friend of mine adopted 10 year old blind, diabetic, unsteady old gal who was the life of the party and stole every heart she ever bumped into. The ‘less adoptables’ are the ones you remember the most, probably because you have to give them a little more time and attention, which, to me, is the point of having companion animals. Don’t worry, Little Zee, there is someone out there with a few quirks of their own who will love all of yours!

  2. when we adopted basil he had been in foster care for 6 months with zero inquiries. i get it though, blind and deaf dogs seem…hopeless? helpless? tons of work? plus he was shaved and looked WAY less cute than he does now (seriously, dude looked freaky). he was also “5 or 6″ at the time, which isn’t young.

    we took him home and he never had an accident in the house, mapped the furniture and the rooms in about 30 minutes and immediately velcro’d himself to my husband. he doesn’t require anything more than our “more adoptable” dog, lola. when the general public is looking for a dog, there are just so many options, well, why would they seek out a “less adoptable” dog? i say general public, meaning most likely *not* the people that read blogs like this. i know sean and i would seek out another special needs dog next, my mom looks to adopt senior dogs, and i’m sure your readers love the bully breeds.

    i agree that zee sounds like the perfect little dog! i mean, the loose leash walking alone had me sold! i think you’re doing a great job of highlighting *just* how adoptable she is. hopefully the right family comes along soon.

    also agreed that petfinder might want to rethink their campaign name ha.

  3. This just goes to show that those “less adoptable” pets are those most in need of foster homes. If Zee was in a shelter, she would definitely be viewed as less adoptable. But seeing her laundry list of awesome behavior, I don’t know how anyone wouldn’t want to adopt her!

  4. My girl was “less adoptable”. Black, “pit bull” type dog, showed dog aggression and other behavioral problems. No body wanted her. I knew she was the one for me. I won’t lie, it wasn’t an easy first year (the rips in various shirts can attest to that.) There was destruction due to separation anxiety, leash pulling, jumping, freaking out when guests left the house (actually there were very few guest visits that first year.) Sometimes I cried out of frustration. I didn’t give up on her and she didn’t give up on me. It’s been 3 1/2 years and while we both still have things to work on, I wouldn’t change a thing. Through all the obedience training we have become a good team and we understand each other very well. We now do canine weight pulling. It helps her get excess energy out and helps her focus on me and has again improved our relationship. People can’t believe how far my dog has come. She walks well on a leash, plays with her dog friends, although she is particular about what dogs she socializes with, listens to me (most of the time), can be trusted around food, kids, leather shoes (just not unattended trash cans), and is a superb cuddler. I tell them, she always had it, she just needed to trust someone enough to show the world. All dogs, like people, have their special gifts, they just need to find the right partner in life to be able to show it off. Lady Zee what others see as “less adoptable” someone will see as what makes you a special girl. Your partner is out there.

  5. A good friend adopted a six month old rescue from the shelter here. She was found with duck tape around her neck and a huge abscess on her face. They nearly put her down since they couldn’t stop the swelling. A very kind vet volunteered to do surgery and found her bottom teeth as well as part of her bottom jaw up in her sinus cavity. She is missing most of the outside of her bottom jaw, so her tongue can’t stay in her mouth. One eye is damaged and her ear is split in two. She has bite scars all over her face. We suspect she was a bait dog. He came to stay with me and my White German Shepherds have bonded with her to the extent that, when he moved I asked him to leave her with me. She and my female shepherd are best friends. They both sleep with me every night (along with a cat or two). Some people are horrified by her looks – to me she is the most precious thing in the world.

    Porkie (they named her that because her split ear looks like a pig’s foot) would have been there a long time if my friend had not adopted her. She would hide at the back of her kennel and shake. But now she is such a happy girl! I can’t imagine life without her!

  6. Those photos are just adorable. Has Little Zee had any applications? If not, I won’t believe it! – even if she is “less adoptable”, those traits you described make her sound like such a fantastic dog.

  7. I love you name change for Petfinder! Those pics of Zee make me melt! She is so adoptable. Havi is a black pitbull, so I guess she is less adoptable (especially because she was already 1.5 when I scooped her up). I just saw a girl who needed some love…someone will see that in Zee too! Do Chick and Zee chill out?

  8. I have cats and rats.

    Rats, almost by definition, are less adoptable. Most people don’t know that shelters have “pocket pets” and rats are not really considered cute. But until you’ve lived with rats you’ll never know how smart, funny, affectionate, cuddly, interactive, and truly sweet they are. There’s a little bit of Martha Stewart in every rat. Everything has to just-so and they won’t stop adjusting their living space until it is. I’ve adopted 27 rats over the years and could talk for hours about their merits as companion animals.

    Last summer I adopted two particularly “unadoptable” rats. One rat, Tertius, only had one eye, the other one simply hadn’t developed. There’s nothing wrong with Teddy; he gets around just fine. The other rat, Grampa Rexy, was simply old–which, btw, happens to be my own personal “handicap” these days! But he lived the last five months of his life with Tertius in a big cage and was loved and pampered.

    One of my favorite sites is Rolling Dog Farm (http://www.rollingdogfarm.org/wemoved.php) in New Hampshire which is dedicated to “disabled” animals (who apparently are unaware of their own disabilities.) And I might add that they have successfully adopted out many of their residents over the years.

  9. Wonderful post! I hadn’t heard about Petfinder’s less adoptable week. I need to get Louise up there. I found both my pit mixes wandering the streets. Both were considered “unadoptable” at the shelter for being pit bulls and for various behavior challenges. Who wouldn’t have behavior challenges after living on the streets and then being put into what amounts to a jail cell? Louise was emotionally shut down at the shelter and was due to be euthanized. When I picked her up she was trembling. About 30 minutes after I got her home, she was doing the pit bull wiggle in my kitchen. She’s an absolute sweetheart, a gem of a dog. I love your idea to name it “Adopt a Diamond-in-the-Rough Week” instead!
    http://www.facebook.com/adoptlouise

  10. I found my cat on petfinder and was immediately drawn to her because of her coloring and name (I’d always wanted a cat with her name!). I didn’t set out to adopt an older, blind, cat but once I read up on blindness it didn’t seem to be a big deal–I live in an apartment, so she wouldn’t be able to go outside either way. Now she’s mostly toothless as well (poor dental care in her early years).

    Her “disabilities” actually make her an even better pet for me. She is mellow enough not to claw up my furniture and she can stay home all day. She never jumps on the counters, because she doesn’t know she can (though she’s figured out the bed and couch–since we sit there–and is close to discovering the dining room chairs, toilet, and bathtub). And she still eats kibble like a champ and can’t deliver the “nips” she used to when she got a little overexcited during playtime. I can’t believe her owners would have dumped her at a shelter, or that that in the 6 months she was in foster care, I was the only one interested. Whoever overlooked her totally missed out.

    • Said cat is also snuggly (when she chooses to be) and loves to follow her people around the apartment. Even though she can’t see, she still loves toys that chirp and squeak and provides lots of cuteness when batting them around on the floor.

  11. Little Zee sounds perfect. I so wish I could adopt that little girl!! She could be a “Carolina Girl”. There just has to be a lot of interest in her…if not, I don’t understand it!

  12. Diamond-in-the-Rough week sounds so much better – and it is such a good reminder to all that sometimes the ones that you might think are “harder to love” because of their circumstances, breed, age, health, etc end up being the best dogs or cats.

    P.S. Those photos of Zee??? I’m melting with adoration over here….

  13. When I started fostering Maisie, she had been living at doggie daycare for a month and her rescue organization had received not a single foster or adoption application for her. Three months later, she still had no more than a passing inquiry. She is black and a pit mix, so it’s not unheard of for such a dog to have less than average interest but not even one app was unusual. So then, she was mine. :)

  14. I didn’t so much ‘adopt’ as marry into a family of senior poodles (a standard who was 8, a toy who was 11 and a miniature poodle who was 13), although, in fairness, I pretty much married my husband for his dogs (he knows this!). As soon as out situation allows, I’d like to get another senior poodle – I LOVE older dogs!

  15. I agree, “Adopt a Diamond-in-the-Rough Week” sounds WAY better! We adopted our pitty when she was 5. She was a mess and it wasn’t very likely she was going to find a home. 3 years later I couldn’t imagine our home without her. She is very much like little Zee except for the little. Her wiggle butt is the greatest thing in the world. An expression of true joy.

  16. Both of my boys are diamonds in the rough. Angel is a large black pit bull with a splash of white on his face (2- strikes), and Spike is a special needs pit bull mix (deaf). In fact Spike has 3+ strikes against him since he was abused and is as stubborn as the Bulldog lifting its leg in his family tree. Getting Spike to smile and wag his tail was a bit of a challenge, but we’re working on it.

    Little Zee, BTW, is gorgeous.

  17. Even though Rufus has a beautiful brindle coat and is estimated to be between 2 and 4 yrs. old, he sat at a shelter for almost 6 months before the rescue I foster for pulled him. I believe he was deemed “unadoptable” because he didn’t show well – he is aloof, super mellow, and stand-offish to new people. None of these things scream “Take me home!!” to people looking to add a forever family member to their home. Luckily, I landed my grumpy old man despite all of his flaws, and he is almost exactly as you describe beautiful Zee – minus the super friendly with strangers part, haha. But in his home with his family? He’s a piece of cake. Adorable, adorable cake.

  18. How about: “Adopt a misunderstood pet”. Or … “Adopt a pet-that-needs-you-more week”.

    I do have to say, I really only see plus signs in adopting a senior! They are already housebroken (most likely), won’t chew, are calm and there won’t be any surprises in their size. And part of me thinks they are just a little wiser and understand that they are in a great, new home. And a senior pittie? That’s a dream dog! Calm, wise, full of love and ready to learn!

  19. Our Buster was in a shelter for THREE years (http://bwpaws.blogspot.com/2011/01/big-black-dogs.html) before we broke him out! Your description of how easily Little Zee fit into your home is exactly what Buster was like. But he’s a big black dog, a little older and doesn’t photograph well and he had a stiff back leg – which admittedly ended up costing $3,000 in surgery…
    I still can’t believe that people kept passing up this super duper guy cos I love him soooo much!

  20. Definitely Diamond in the Rough Week! These pets are SUCH JEWELS! Petey was dark, skinny (from giardia), feral and a pit bull. Now he is the darling of NYC’s Upper East Side. Doormen from fancy Park Avenue buildings call out to him when we walk down the street. Petey definitely had his settling in period (and I had to throw out chewed up chairs, shoes, make up, you name it). But he is now a much beloved addition. The wonderful people at Bruised Not Broken adopted a deaf pit bull that now visits schools http://www.bruisednotbroken.com Read all about Lucca!

  21. Sweet lord – that nose is too kissable.

    I suppose Jack falls under that category, since he’s a pit mix, but I KNOW that Miss Libby falls under that category. She was left behind by her owner and adopted by someone else who ALSO returned her. As if she was just a sweater from a store! PISH!

    She had belly issues, asthma, and is without a tail. We later learned the tail-less part of her is just her breed (Manx), which happens to be voted among the top for family cats – they’re MAJOR lovers. She snuggles under the covers with me every night, and Scott thinks it’s just ridiculous (but he loves her just the same, as he’s the one who brought her home one day!). Yes, we have to give her a pill during asthma attacks, but better food and lots of love healed her little upset tummy. I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world.

  22. I can’t imagine Zee having in problems! She seems perfect! Ollie was surrendered for “biting” and lived at our daycare for a few weeks before he moved home with us. I have no idea if anyone else was interested in him or not. It took a few months before we were all settled in to a new routine and he was able to trust us. He still has his moments, but he has come a LONG ways from the boy he was 3 years ago.

  23. GREAT post – truly love the idea of “re-branding” their week’s feature. I keep saying we need to “re-brand” Pitties to be “Pibbles” and more people would be inclined to snuggle in with one. We recently adopted a little dog that may have some visible pit bull characteristics and have found him to definitely be a diamond in the rough. He’s the calmest, most trainable young dog we’ve ever had – hands down! So thankful to have brought him into Arwen’s Pack!
    And you’re right – Little Zee sounds like the perfect pup!!!

  24. Hi from Norway :)
    I found your blog thru 2 pitties in the city (I think lol). I had to go back and read about your other fosterdogs and love your blog. Thank you for taking the time to help these beautiful dogs :)
    OMG I love little Zee she is just adorable. If I was in the USA I would have had a very hard time to not adopt her.

    For the 1st time in many years I’m pretty much petless which I don’t like one bit :( I moved back to Norway last year (from Houston, TX). I hope to get a dog next year when things have settled down a bit :) In the meantime I petsitt other people pets :)

    Most of my pets (cats, dogs, turtles, fish) have come from less than ideal situations. Yes they are hard work but so worth it. Most have had various degrees of health problems. I am hoping that the next dog I get actually comes healthy and stays so lol.

    Keep up the great work and hope little Zee finds her perfect forever home :)

  25. I’ve adopted many “less adoptable” dogs in my life. Starting with just plain Pit Bulls to special needs dogs. I’ve even been able to foster & adopt out some. All have been great & wonderful dogs. One I remember especially was Lucy. She was a mix, Boston/Rat Terrier? She was smart & a little terror to my other dogs. She went to obedience & aced it. We had 2 Pit Bulls at that time. She’d play with my 64 lb male, Buddy, until he’d run away from her! Then she’d try to play with my other Pit, Booker, who was a senior & the old girl would put her in her place. What was funny, was when Buddy & Lucy would play together & they would disturb Booker. Booker would then referee & stop them. Lucy had nephritic diabetes & was on a special diet. She had housebreaking problems because of it, we took her out as much as we could, but at night was when she had her problems; so we bought a portable carpet cleaning machine to take care of the messes. She had a major attack & passed away a year after we got her.
    There were many more that we had, Petey who had been set on fire & was traumatized. Poor baby, he had separation anxiety & his last owner couldn’t take it any more. They called us & we came & got him. Erica who was found hanging by her back legs with a knife in her throat. Erica was at Tulsa Animal Control & was in the “death” room when she was rescued. She was such a sweet dog.

  26. I have a “big, black dog” and he is the best! I have to admit, at the time I was looking for a fluffy, golden retriever type dog. But Ace’s personality and athleticism fit perfectly into my lifestyle so I picked him. Now big, black dogs are my favorite. I want to adopt a black pitbull some day.

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