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The right dog can adapt to urban life - Metro US

The right dog can adapt to urban life

Carlyn Yandle/for metro vancouver

Dogs and people have evolved together to feel at home in all sorts of living situations.

Two years after that fateful day at the vet when the Man Of The House and I hugged our cancer-riddled 12-year-old Westie for the last time, we are this close to welcoming a dog back into our lives.

There’s a little rescue Cairn terrier in our near future who needs the kind of home we can provide — at least, that was the conclusion of a volunteer “home inspector” of the U.S.-based Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network, cairnrescue.com.

I had my doubts that we would pass Colonel Potter’s muster; wouldn’t the online application I filled out last month be deleted once the inspector (if there really was one) realized our home is a city apartment three stories off the ground in an urban neighbourhood defined by a destination shopping strip, just outside the downtown core?

Turns out the inspector part was serious. Before I knew it I was apologizing to the local volunteer — one of 600 in the six-year-old society — for the common entrance to our unit, the small deck that offered no chance of a view at Cairn height, and the surely old cat.

But she was pleased (the inspector, not the cat; she’s about to become permanently displeased). She was glad to see a secured deck — terriers are great escape artists — a nearby doggy park, and flexibility in work hours.

In retrospect, I don’t see why I worried. After all, canines have been human companions for 15,000 years. We’ve managed to adapt from caves to highrises, and long hunts for food to long commutes for food money. The domestic dog is just as adaptable. The key is the fit between dog temperament and human lifestyle.

Which brings me to the second volunteer contact from Col. Potter: the matchmaker. My first thought was “Oh, for gawdsakes,” but second thoughts saw the wisdom in it. We are an active household, so a slow mover would be a boat anchor to us. Also, a big dog could clear my work-in-progress surfaces with one swipe of a tail.

Our preference for small size, big personality and some independence led to our match two weeks ago to an active 22-pound, six-year-old orphan. Wisecracking friends have said it’s easier to adopt a kid than this fur-kid.

Maybe, but if all dog-seekers had to pass inspection and work with a matchmaker, we might not have “bad dog” issues.

carlyn.yandle@metronews.ca

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