October is Adopt a Shelter Dog month.
I’m a BIG advocate of rescue organizations but there are MANY compelling reasons to save a furry friend from the shelter. And one big important one.
The benefits of going through a responsible organization are:
- A good indication of the dogs personality as the dog has already been fostered.
- The dog will have been spayed/neutered.
- You can “test out” the new animal with current animal members of your family (some shelters allow this, be sure to ask)
- It actually might cost less
Even with a $500 adoption fee. Getting a dog from the shelter might entail some medical costs you’re not aware of.
Knowing all this – we still chose to adopt a dog from the shelter. Why? Most responsible rescue organizations do a great job finding good homes for their animals. Shelter dogs don’t have as many advocates. Take a walk into a shelter. You’ll see hundreds of good dogs needing a home. Hundreds will not find one. I wanted to even out the odds – even if only by one dog.
It was time. After fostering 8 week old puppies over the summer, I knew I was ready for the lifestyle change that occurs when you welcome a new member into the family. JD, our current dog, is getting older and Thing 1 will be leaving for college in a year. There’s no better friend for a 13 year old girl than a dog.
Thing 2 and I stopped by the Van Nuys Animal Shelter to inquire if they had any dogs that would meet our requirements. (female and young) We wanted a puppy but she didn’t have to be brand new. We wanted to ensure JD would retain his status as top dog. With an unknown personality, another male dog might grow and challenge his place in the pack. That was a situation I didn’t want JD or our family to encounter.
A volunteer showed us Maui. She was excited to get out of her concrete cage and play. The volunteer told us that Maui was pretty mellow for her age (6 months). After she bounced around a bit, she snuggled right up to Thing 2. That move sealed the deal. Maui came home with us.
It’s a wonderful thing to see a shelter dog transition from a shy, uncertain and scared dog into a full fledged member of the pack. The first time you leave and come home, they aren’t that excited to see you. They don’t know they’ve hit the dog lottery.
Eventually, you become their everything. They learn the daily rituals. They figure out the meaning of car keys jingling, the lid on the dog treat jar, and the cupboard opening where the leashes are kept.
There have been casualties. I lost a favorite pair of shoes, a dog bed or two was ravished, old bras were mangled and there was that unfortunate bout with the antibiotics.
Plus, there have been expenses. Her initial checkup and medicine for the nasty case of kennel cough that almost always comes with a shelter dog. Her spay was free but the pain medicine was not.
But we feel pretty lucky to have Maui. She picked up the potty training quickly. We never had to show her how to use the doggy door (she followed JD right through and that was the extent of it). JD also showed her his neat little trick to open the screen door. A flick of the nose and they’re in and I have to get up and close it again. Thanks JD. With a quiet growl, she lets me know when there’s something in the yard. That possum walks a little more wary these days. When Thing 2 was home sick with strep throat, Maui slept right by her to keep her company.
There’s no better friend than a dog, especially a dog from a shelter.