Carol and I visited Clark Farms in Matunuck on Saturday, November 4. We weren’t in search of squash or to get a jump on Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations. Rather, for both of us it was …
Carol and I visited Clark Farms in Matunuck on Saturday, November 4. We weren’t in search of squash or to get a jump on Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations. Rather, for both of us it was time to think of adopting another dog, although we knew there wouldn’t be another like Ollie, who we had to put down on July 4 at the age of 16 or 17.
I was also looking forward to connecting again with Louise Anderson Nicolosi, founder of Always Adopt, who I first met at a super large event held at Inskip Motors. Louise launched these giant events, at which adoption organizations bring animals to a common location.
The Clark Farms production was well planned. When we checked the Always Adopt website we were encouraged to complete an adoption application with the incentive that we would get a two-hour jump on meeting the pups before the general public opening at noon. We went through all the questions from our ages and level of activity to whether we owned or rented a house and how much time we could devote to our canine companion, and then printed our personalized “golden ticket” for early admission.
As it turned out, we arrived at Clark Farms at 11:45 a.m. so having a golden ticket really wasn’t much of a benefit. However, completing the application was a plus as it served to focus our attention on what we were looking for in our next dog.
It’s hard not to adopt at Louise’s super events.
Unlike an animal shelter where the dogs are in kennels, Always Adopt is like a kasbah with wandering volunteers from different rescue organizations, usually identifiable by their T-shirts, introducing you to adoptable dogs. No sooner had we stepped in the greenhouse before we were greeted by Ella and her handler from Rhode Home Rescue.
Ella, or maybe it was Emma, it was hard to tell in the whirl of it all, sidled up to the two of us like we were long time friends. She looked well cared for and even chunky for a rescue. She was the size of dog we were looking for – between 35 and 40 pounds – and according to a neck tag about two years old. Was it going to be that simple, had we met our next rescue in 15 minutes?
But having just arrived and with so many dogs – 300 was the estimate – we made the rounds of the greenhouse.
“Have you seen Louise?” I asked of one of the volunteers holding a dog in her arms.
“Oh, she’s here,” she said, scanning the crowd. “I’ll find her for you.” She passed the dog to another volunteer and disappeared.
Soon enough I spotted her waving to me and there was Louise with springy, blonde, curly hair just as I remembered her.
Saturday’s Always Adopt was the 19th since the first in 2013. She said more than 7,000 dogs have been adopted since then, with 500 dogs adopted in the largest single event. The pandemic put the super large events on pause, although during those days when working from home became the rule, adoption rates picked up.
When I first met Louise she told me her mission to save dogs from euthanasia was awakened by a documentary showing dogs being herded into a gas chamber, hearing them howling and scratching to get out and then seeing their bodies being tossed in a truck for disposal. From her vivid description, her memory of the sight was as pronounced for her Saturday as it was years ago.
I remained amazed by the seemingly endless stream of dogs from southern kill shelters. Louise said organizations and individuals step in to save the dogs and arrange for their transport north. In fact, she pointed out, a shipment of about 30 dogs at Saturday’s event had just arrived the night before from Texas. Many groups, she said, are working in the south to promote spaying and neutering and stem the tide of unwanted animals.
It seemed to me that one day there wouldn’t be as many animal rescue organizations in Rhode Island and these Always Adopt events would be a thing of the past.
Louise smiled at the prospect.
Where would people like us, who are not focused on a particular breed and are not looking for a show dog, find a companion? Louise didn’t have an answer other than to suggest breeders would fill the gap. She was delighted by the prospect of ending the euthanasia of unwanted dogs and the need for such adoption events.
Carol and I continued meeting dogs, whether sitting on the floor to have them crawl into our laps or jump up to greet us. Carol received a lot more of those greetings than I did, and I discovered the reason after we returned to the car, when she pulled a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from her pocket.
We saw many that we liked at first sight, but none seemed to click like Ollie or Binky before him.
We did not leave with the next home companion. Not yet.
But Louise emailed to let us know there would be more dogs to meet. That’s what it takes, whether one dog at a time or hundreds on a weekend.