Even while we were making arrangements for Fern to return I was asking about getting a new dog. At camp they acknowledged that sometimes things don't work out, no matter how hard everyone works. They said that if things weren't working, it would best for the dog to return and the recipient get a new one. It sounded like they were understanding and, while not ideal, it happened and they would help you get a dog as soon as possible. In their documentary "Through a Dog's Eyes", they had something like that happen to a little boy and the video ended with them saying that the dog was going back and they would get a different dog. Now I wonder if they really did.
After significant pushing on my part, I finally got some answers out of CA, but they were not reassuring. Apparently our case will have to be reviewed by the "board". I have no idea who the board is, or what they do, but they have to review our case. Then they will be the ones that say we can or can not receive another dog. As of last month, there was no meeting time set and she doesn't know when they will next meet. She took pity on me and talked to the owner of CA about our case. The owner said she didn't see any reason we couldn't have another dog placed, which greatly relieves me. Of course, it's non-binding, but that has to be a great sign.
And now here's more bad news. If we get approved (I'm cautiously optimistic now that we will), we may have a long wait. They said we would need a "pretty laid back" dog, which may take some time to find. (Why didn't they notice that during the three year wait?) If they find one for M fairly soon, we would probably fly out to CA for a 3 or 4 day trip, hopefully over a weekend, so they can see if the match will work. If it takes a long time, we would have to do the training camp all over again. Essentially, they could put us back on the waiting list for another 3 years and make us start from scratch.
M is understandably upset. We both tried so hard with Fern, doing everything they said to and completely wrapping our lives around her. When things just didn't work out, we did exactly what they said and returned her instead of just keeping her as a pet and ignoring her lack of bond with M. How would it not be a punishment for them to tell us we couldn't get another dog? Or make us wait another 3 years? That would be a punishment for being honest instead of self-serving. M alternates between being mad at CA for not agreeing to another dog immediately and being hurt they are doubting her. I can understand her feelings. This is when the dog would do so much good. There are times M feels so left out because she can't do sports and only modified PE classes. She stands out because something is always in a splint or brace and she misses a lot of school. Even though Fern could be very naughty, she was still there for Mika to cuddle with when she was hurting.
So now we're in a holding pattern. I sent off an email yesterday to the outreach contact just saying I'm doing a one month post-Fern check in, letting you know we're still very interested in receiving a different dog. I asked if there was a board meeting scheduled or if there was any other information available. I'm not hopeful of getting a response with any helpful information. The unknown is so hard. When I submitted M's application way back in 2008 we knew within 2 months that we were approved. I only wish that would happen now.