Thursday, October 01, 2009

National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

This post is completely off topic from what I normally write, but it’s a subject that’s very close to my heart and really, sometimes I just need to write about something different.

October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, and adopted dogs is something I’m truly, truly passionate about, and with good reason, I’ve owned two dogs in my adult life and both have come from shelters. The truth is that there are so many amazing dogs out there, living in shelters and waiting for good, loving homes. There are puppies and adult dogs, dogs that are wonderful with children and dogs that need a little more care. There are big dogs and small dogs and yes, there are even purebreds. I can’t imagine why anyone would need to go to a breeder (unless you were planning to breed or show a dog or needed a specific type of dog for a specific reason, like sled dog racing, for example). For those of us who simply want a companion to romp with, pet, kiss and love a shelter dog is the perfect choice.

In March of 1997 I received what was easily the greatest birthday gift I will ever receive. Jacky gave me a “gift certificate” to go to the shelter and pick out my own dog. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time, but fear of responsibility had held me back. Finally I had no excuses. The minute I walked into the kennels at the ASPCA in Manhattan I knew I had found the dog for me. Jacky and others repeatedly asked if I was sure, but I am convinced to this day that Sadie (named Babs by the shelter) was there waiting for me. She was an eight-month-old pit bull mix with issues. Boy did she have issues. She was terrified of going outside and had never lived anywhere but the shelter, she needed to be housebroken and didn’t know how to walk up and down stairs. I didn’t care. The minute I laid eyes on her I knew she was mine, and I think she knew it too. Sadie was not an easy dog, as many of my friends and my family will be happy to tell you. I had to teach her to use the stairs (I lived on the third floor of a brownstone) and spent hours just sitting on my Brooklyn stoop so she could get used to the big, scary outdoors. Most upsetting though were her people issues. Except for a select few, she was terrified of many and most people, and because of that Sadie and I had a lot of work to do and together we worked daily to ease her anxieties and make her one of the best trained dogs in Prospect Park. She loved to romp with other dogs and slowly her people issues ebbed. She was never 100% comfortable around new people or strangers, but quickly morphed into the perfect family dog, growing to love infants, toddlers and even a few of us adults. I could easily fill page after page telling you how wonderful Sadie was and how much she meant to me, but I think all pet lovers out there get the idea. When Sadie succumbed to cancer last September I truly knew heartbreak and even still I miss her daily. But time moved on and it wasn’t long before we knew that it was time for a new dog. Everyone still missed Sadie, but we needed another four-legged, shedding animal in the house.

So in January of this year we started the search for what would inevitably be the family dog. In doing so we knew only two things about our future dog, and that’s that he would come from a shelter and that he would be a pit bull or pit bull mix. For those who don’t know dogs, hearing that someone would choose a pit bull as a family dog might seem nuts, but those who know the breed will understand that this is one of the sweetest, most loving dogs you’ll ever know. Have you ever met a 50-pound lap dog? That’s a pit bull. Sadie was part pit, and probably because of that it’s a breed we are naturally attracted to. On top of that though, we feel some sort of strange obligation to pit bulls. We’re experienced pit bull owners who know how to have a firm hand with a dog. Labs don’t wait in a shelter long, pit bulls do.

In starting our search we discovered Rawhide Rescue, and after talking to the director we knew this was the organization we wanted to adopt from. They shelter a lot of pit bulls and are very choosy about who takes a dog home. They are serious about finding good homes and really, truly love their dogs. After two trips to their dog adoption days and some trial walks with a couple of dogs we found Riggins (Angus while he was in the shelter). Sadie was my dog, Riggins is truly the family dog. We joke that in many ways he’s the opposite of Sadie. While she loved dogs and feared people, Riggins fears dogs and loves all people. In fact, just recently I saw a miniature dachshund send Riggins, my 45-pound pit bull, scurrying in fear with one bark. Riggins was picked up off the streets when he was about five months old. No one knows his exact age or what put him on the streets. I suspect, based on some behaviors and fears he has, that he was once a family dog that was dumped. Scheduled to be euthanized, Riggins was rescued and taken in by Rawhide, where he lived for a little more than a year. I learned that when Riggins was first picked up they had serious concerns that he wouldn’t be adoptable. They couldn’t get him to look people in the eye and he was far too skittish. After some time working with him though, they were able to bring out his sweet and loving nature. It’s hard to believe that people questioned whether Riggins would be adoptable. His favorite place is curled in a ball in my lap or playing fetch for hours. He makes a retriever look lazy and has become the perfect companion to a three-year-old. Poor Riggins, once a street dog, is now subject to wearing headbands, chasing Matchbox cars, and sleeping with a little boy’s head on his belly.

I can’t imagine a home without a dog and I can’t imagine a dog that doesn’t come from the shelter. Sure my dogs have issues. All dogs have issues. I’ve met perfectly bred dogs with as many or more issues than my mixed-breed, big-headed, shelter dogs. Part of being a dog owner is knowing and loving your dog, issues and all. So if you are even considering getting a dog anytime soon, I would urge you to please look into a local animal shelter before heading out to the breeder. If my stories tell even half the tale, there is the perfect dog for you just waiting for a home. If you don’t know where the shelter is do a quick search on Petfinder, or just search to look at all the loving animals that need homes.

Sadie and Riggins will thank you.

Jessica


67 comments:

Kimberly Lang said...

What beautiful bullies! I love those sweet faces.

I, too, come from a family that always had bullies, and they are GREAT family dogs. After my parents' divorce, my mom worked a lot of late nights and my mom is still quick to say she never worried at all as long as our pit-English mix was in the house. (Yeah, taking advantage of mom not being home to sleep on the bed.)

I wish my hubby wasn't so allergic -- I really need a bully to keep me company all day. Instead I'm stuck with my daughter's gerbils. It's just not the same...

B.E. Sanderson said...

Exactly. My last two dogs were adopted from the Michigan Humane Society, and they were both great.

I'm sorry for your loss. Sadie looked like a great dog. May you have many many happy years with Riggins. He looks like a sweetie. Pits and pit mixes - at least the ones I've met - are such babies. All they want is to love and be loved.

If my landlord allowed dogs, I'd be at a shelter this month. Thank goodness he gave in a little so we could live here with our shelter cat. =o)

Kim said...

This past April, we adopted a boxer mix from Rawhide Rescue and she's a true keeper. My last two dogs were rescues and I couldn't have asked for better.

Kim Lionetti said...

Ugh. That was a three-kleenex blog post.

Sadie was a very special dog. I miss her too.

Riggins is such a marshmallow. What a lover. And what a fantastic name....

Kristan said...

"On top of that though, we feel some sort of strange obligation to pit bulls. We’re experienced pit bull owners who know how to have a firm hand with a dog. Labs don’t wait in a shelter long, pit bulls do."

Wow. I truly applaud you (and your family), because you're right, pit bulls are wonderful dogs but also a lot of work. It's really inspiring to see someone with your sensible and loving attitude about it.

"In fact, just recently I saw a miniature dachshund send Riggins, my 45-pound pit bull, scurrying in fear with one bark."

Being a dog lover myself, I definitely teared up reading this post, but that line gave me a good chuckle.

For anyone in the Cincinnati/Ohio area, the League for Animal Welfare is an excellent shelter in Batavia where we adopted Riley, our Jack Russell/Border Collie mix.

http://lfaw.org/

Kristan said...

Also, GREAT pics of the dogs. I can see why you fell in love with them. :)

Edie Ramer said...

I'm usually a lurker, but I had to comment on this. What cute faces. We got our dog from a rescue association, and she's a sweetheart. We adopted our previous dog from the humane society. She passed away nearly ten years ago, and we still miss her.

Marie Force said...

Great post, Jessica. I lost my 17-year-old Consuela the Wonder Dog in May and was completely heartbroken for weeks. We rescued her from a police kennel the day before she was to be euthanized. She was my best friend and office mate all these years. Our other pound dog, Roscoe, died at 14 in 2006.

I told the kids we'd start looking for a new dog in "the fall." The day autumn officially arrived, I was informed it is now FALL and it's time to start looking. I'm not really ready yet, and I know what you mean about how one was yours and this next one will be OURS. However, since I work from home, I'm sure it will still be more mine than anyone else's! Off to the pound we go. Soon.

Does the name Riggins mean you are a Friday Night Lights fan? :-)

KAK said...

Three cheers for adopting dogs from shelters or rescues! My feet are being warmed by my two rescued beasties as I type.

SomedayAuthor said...

Great post. I adopted my first shelter dog almost two years ago and (after working through those issues) love her to death. Her name is Jilly and she's a border collie/eskimo mix. My other dog is a purebred Papillion (Yoda) and he has waaaay more issues than my shelter dog ever dreamed about having. I will never, ever buy another dog again. Thanks for the story.

Karla said...

Thanks for sharing that piece of your life with your readers.

I have two dogs, both adopted from rescues. My profile picture is of Havana, an American Staffordshire Terrier and my other dog is a gremlin-esque Boston Bulldog.

Here in Ontario we suffer from Breed Specific Legislation, aka "the pit bull ban". My Havana is grandfathered under the bill, barely. Even though she is the most mushy, moshy, lovebug you'd ever meet - she has to wear a muzzle in public and may not go off leash ANYWHERE.

I volunteer with a rescue group that has back door access to many pounds & shelters, and they have saved dozens upon dozens of pittie mixes and what is known here as "substantially similiar" by smuggling them out of province.

Thanks again for helping to get the word out there about how wonderful it is to adopt a dog.

Lorra said...

After we were forced to put down our beautiful black lab after thirteen years of loving compansionship, like Jessica, I decided to adopt a shelter dog.

Before embarking on my search, I set certain parameters: no puppies, no purbreeds, must be under 60 pounds and absolutely no dogs with dobie, pitbull, shepherd or chow.

Three months after the death of my beautiful Hextall (yes, named for the Flyer's goalie for anyone recognizing the name) I brought home a darling dog, purportedly a mix of lab, golden retriever and hound who had recently given birth, but was spayed and found wandering in Amish country. (A perplexing bonus was that she was houstrained.) She was afraid of almost everything at first, but has since socialized beautifully.

Imagine my shock when the vet took one look at her paws and chest and announced: "I'm not sure what else is in this dog, but she is definitely part pitbull."

After wrestling with that pronouncement and the dreadful connotions associated with pitbulls, to avoid the stigma attached to the breed, I decided not to tell anyone about her ancestry, choosing instead to introduce her as a lab mix.

And whaddaya know? Turns out she is the sweetest, most loving, cuddly dog imaginable, so much so, that her somewhat embarrassing name is now Sweetie.

anita said...

What a beautiful post, Jessica! You brought tears to my eyes.

So sorry about Sadie, but take comfort in the fact that you touched her life just as she did yours. :-) Riggens sounds like a wonderful family pet, too.

"Sure my dogs have issues. All dogs have issues.Part of being a dog owner is knowing and loving your dog, issues and all."

Bravo! Pets give us unconditional love, in spite of our faults. So it's only right we should do the same for them.

Thanks so much for sharing this!

RK said...

Your wonderful blog post brought me out of lurkdom too.
I'm a firm believer of adopting from the shelter rather than supporting puppy mills and Pure Bred kennels because there are so many good pets needing a home.

I've always adopted and currently have Snickers, a Corgi (looks to be pure bred, but found at the shelter) and Patches, 100 percent mutt (Peke/Terrier/Spaniel mix), who is so absolutely beautiful and adorable that we are stopped on walks with people trying to find out what his breed is and where can they get one. I'm always happy to reply: Go to the animal shelter!

BTW, even though I don't comment usually, I do enjoy your blog every morning!

Rashda

Bella Andre said...

What a wonderful post. Samuel, our amazing and loving Akita, lived with us for ten years until last October. He was the best dog in the world (although it was my head on his belly instead of a kid's). So I get the whole pit-bull thing because people feel similarly about Akita's - but boy if you get a great one, there's nothing like them!

Kristen Callihan said...

Lovely post. We adopted a dog two weeks ago. Already, she is snuggling up with the kids at night, playing with them in the yard, and making all of our lives better for having her.

Melissa said...

Great post! I don't have pitties, but I'm a huge fan of the breed. They are terrific family dogs and highly trainable. Big mushes -- so different from their undeserved rep.

Christine Fletcher said...

Yay for adopting shelter dogs! Both my girls came from the Oregon Humane Society. One is a pit mix and the sweetest, most easygoing dog I've ever had. I'm a veterinarian in my day job, and I can tell you most veterinarians love pit bulls because pits are among the best-tempered, most loving dogs we ever work with.

For those who have their hearts set on a purebred dog, they should know too that up to 30% of dogs in shelters are purebred. In the past, I've adopted a purebred German Shepherd and a Great Dane, both of which were abandoned. There are also rescue organizations for every breed that adopt homeless purebreds to new owners.

Kudos on a great post!

Rosemary said...

Jessica and Kim,

Sadie has a canine namesake in my WIP, and there's a subplot about dog shelters--a topic I didn't know I was passionate about until I wrote it.

(Keep those tissues handy, Kim!)

Ms Snarky Pants said...

I'm so sorry about you sweet Sadie and congratulations on finding Riggens. They're both lovely.

I have a lab mix from the pound and a danish swedish farm dog from a rescue when we were living in denmark. I love them both like crazy, although my danish swedish farm dog is a grummmpy old lady (11) and my lab mix is absolutely crazy. He's terrified of men especially men wearing hats... He's a great watch dog though. I never have to worry with him around, and he is WONDERFUL with the kids. Let's them tug all over him.

I think there must be regional differences in what ends up in the shelter though, because our shelters are FULL of labs, and according to what I've heard from the people who work there that they are the least likely to get adopted. I couldn't resist my lab. He was this sweeeet puppy with GIANT paws up put his paws on my shoulders and licked my face. He was soooo sold right then!

Bravo to you for promoting adopting. I'm going to do the same thing on my blog!

Anna Claire said...

Sadie was adorable and Riggins is cute as a button!

Hubby and I are just waiting to put up a taller fence in our backyard, and then plan to head to our local shelter to find the perfect dog for us. We believe strongly in adopting shelter/rescue animals, too.

We've got two cats, Momerath and Orion, that we love to pieces. We got Momerath from our local no-kill shelter and Orion from a local feral feline adoption group. You're absolutely right about shelter/rescue animals. Orion was the most skittish, unfriendly cat you'd ever meet when whe first adopted him, but now he's the quintessential lap cat and loves snuggling. Shelter pets rock!

Cathy in AK said...

Another lurker moved to comment here : )

My first shelter dog was a rottweiler/doberman cross. People thought I was nuts, but he was sweet and loving, and other than eating an old couch, a really great dog.

After he and our other dog passed, we adopted a rottie/golden retriever and a lab/border collie from the local shelter. That was seven years ago. From day one they adored our then kindergartener and toddler and gave our old cat the respect she deserved. After a bumpy start with some discipline issues (no couch eating, thank goodness) they became the best family dogs ever.

Your pit bulls are too cute! It's a shame certain breeds are given such a bum wrap, but your post and other commentors prove it's all in how you treat them.

Falen said...

I have a purebred French bulldog i got at my shelter. She's the best dog i've ever had.

That being said,there's nothing wrong with going to a reputable breeder - i work at a shelter and we are really pro reputable breeders because dogs that come from good breeders never end up at the shelter because the breeders always take their dogs back, no matter what. And reputable breeders are heavily invested in the rescue and sheltering world. There's a distinction between someone who just breeds dogs just because, and someone who breeds dogs because they are passionate about ending cancer and other diseases and helping to bring forth the best dogs they can.

That said, as someone who has both adopted and is heavily invested in sheltering and rescue, i will go to a reputable breeder again in the future. But i will certainly adopt again as well.

Andrew said...

What a lovely post. Thank you.

My wife and I run a Pit rescue in New Mexico; we generally get the worst-case dogs, and we don't adopt them out. One they are rehabbed we won't push them out the door for anything.

So there are nine Pits living in what used to be the breakfast room...and right now they want breakfast!

Stephanie said...

Thank you, Jessica!

I've worked with animal shelters pit bull rescue for about a decade and we can certainly use more responsible owners like you out there being breed ambassadors.

Thanks for speaking out on pits and on adoption!

P.S. The brindle-and-whites are adorable. I'm fostering an older one now http://bit.ly/wilbur

Anonymous said...

I've alwasy adopted SPCA or shelter dogs and they've been the best pets: A Sheltie mix and a golden retriever mix (these two were years apart but best friends) that we adopted when they were several months old. Now we have the sweetest brother & sister Chow mix--one looks like a lion, the other a bear. They just "spoke" to us!

Nancy Coffelt said...

Thank you for the great morning cry.

I know what you mean about spotting a dog at the shelter and knowing it was meant to be.

I found my issue-laden beloved Mags at the shelter. I was there to drop of a donation for their charity auction and not at all interested in adding a third dog to our home.

But we locked eyes and soon, I was loading one, gray-muzzled, broken down wiener dog into my car. Geez, I loved that dog.

Dara said...

Yay for shelter dogs! Yours are so cute!

We got our dog, a mix of who knows what (LOL, no one knows really...chow, pomeranian, Chinese crested...you name it, it's been suggested) from a Home for the Holidays event at the mall last December where all the local shelters brought their dogs and cats. He was the second dog we saw.

His name is Potato :P (Yes, he sort of looks like a Potato too)

He's got his issues--namely health things like skin allergies; he's also incredibly scared of lawnmowers, rain and wet grass (which gets to be an issue...) But he's a great people dog, loves other dogs and cats too :)

For me, getting a shelter dog is the only way to go!

CKHB said...

I love that trademark pit bull smile! Hooray for adoption!

another lurker said...

Loved the post! Thought I'd also plug a dog-relevant book that probably everyone else has already read but I'm only now working through: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski - has the most vivid descriptions of everyday situations with dogs as part of the household - the mannerisms are so amazingly depicted - very authentic. I just wanted to share that!

Jamie Michele said...

Yes, yes, a hundred thousand times yes!!

I applaud every word of your post. Breeders who are not producing working dogs should only be permitted to create more puppies when local shelters are empty. Same goes for cats, except since there are no working cats, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to breed them, not while shelters are overflowing with healthy, friendly, adoptable animals.

Cat Moleski said...

Oh, no fair making me cry at work! My partner and I have adopted two dogs from the shelter and have fostered three other dogs over the years. It is heartbreaking to know how many dogs need good homes.

Robena Grant said...

Adore your doggie pictures. A dear friend has a pit mix and Stevie is the friendliest and most fun dog ever. I hate that dogs get stuck with a bad rep when really it all comes down to the handling.

I've always liked the Akita breed too, Bella Andre. Had a male 114 pounds who lived to be the grand old age of thirteen. I now have a female 98 pounds. She's a wonderful, very intelligent, companion and so loyal, but she turns ten next week and I don't even want to think about that. She looks a lot like the Akita in the soon to be released movie with Richard Gere.

Suzan Harden said...

Thanks to all of you folks who've adopted and/or work at the shelters. Both of our dogs are pound puppies, and you couldn't find better dogs anywhere.

Jessica, I'm sorry for your loss of Sadie. Our Haley is sixteen (we think), and old age is letting us know she won't be with us too much longer. Thanks for reminding me to treasure every moment.

Carol Benedict said...

Great post!

When we first moved to the country, we bought a full-blooded Brittany Spaniel as our first dog. He was beautiful, from a line of show dogs, but hyperactive and obnoxious. Since then, 4 mutts have showed up in our yard and stayed. Why they were dumped is a mystery, as they have all been wonderful pets. My personal favorite, a lab/chow mix, died of old age last summer, and I still miss him. Our beagle/terrier mix is getting gray and arthritic, but we've added 4 stray cats to the family so I don't plan on adopting any more dogs. I won't turn any away, though, if they show up and don't want to leave.

Diana said...

What a fantastic post! And congratulations on finding not one, but two amazing pets who needed you as much as you needed them.

My husband and I aren't in the position to have dogs right now, but we have made homes for many adopted guinea pigs and a hamster. They've come from shelters and two different rodent rescues. Grandpa Henry, my favorite elderly guinea pig who died at the age of ten this year, and I had a special bond, and my husband swore that it was because Henry knew the moment I showed up at the shelter that I was there to rescue him.

Sheila Deeth said...

Lovely dogs. Would love to adopt another dog.

Barbara said...

I love shelter animals, too. For years, my husband and I have adopted cats and dogs from various shelters. We currently have one shelter dog and cat. Our other dog and cat are both former strays that wandered into our yard and decided to stay. A friend of mine said that all our shelter animals had left pet-hobo signs on our property so strays would know that they've found a good home.

cwsherwoodedits said...

Thanks for posting about something so near and dear to your heart... and to mine. My profile picture is with one of my shelter dogs. We have another that looks just like his little brother. (He was found on the street, literally starving to death. Thank goodness for the rescue group who took him in and saved his life.) Whatever issues our dogs have are minor in comparison to the amazing unconditional love and devotion they provide to our family. I am so grateful for what they give us every day.

Lily said...

I named my yellow lab Sadie! She didn't come from the pound. She was headed TO the pound when we got her. I've had both cats and dogs from the shelters. I have a thing for Dobermans. I got a purebred Dobe from a pound. I rescue strays also.

Thank you for bringing attention to these wonderful pets just waiting for a family home.

MTwyman said...

I love "bully breeds", they are so smart, affecionate and loyal. I wish I could adopt one...if only I had the room.

Kraxpelax said...

My philosophy:

http://windormirrow.blogspot.com/

Dark nights washed by distant rippling trees
and alien winds covering your eyelids, purifying
like everything, move on with splendid ease
leaving us a message: life will never cease
its sleepy course in vain
in order to attain
rebirth, since Death is not and Life is dying.

The heat around Time's corner waves a scent
for creedence revival of some virtual vampire
as deep inside. A force considered spent
returns from utter non-existence that was meant
to keep us out of breath -
Is Life both Life and Death?
Riddle of the Night! The Day be hot and dire.

My Poetry Blog

http://singleswingle.blogspot.com/

More...

Adiós, mis vacas! Que pasa en esta temporada de tristeza?
La soledad se cultiva en las ciudades;
viva la muerte.
Uno no debe imaginar que el hombre es bueno.
El paisaje se despierta en un fiel espejo, pregunte.

La noche ha porches de la siesta en ruinas con pistacho.
Débiles enemigos se disipa amigos sin
valor. La calle es corta.
Hay falta de coherencia, la esperanza y la fe.
Todas las puertas evitadas saludan: No pasarán.

My tentatively spanish poetry blog;

http://hollb.blogspot.com/

Portuguese:

http://kraxport.blogspot.com/

Typically Swedish Next Door Girls Collection För Your Boyfriend's LAPTOP!

:o)

My Babe Misogyn Wallpapers:

http://screenfonds.blogspot.com/

Feel free to announce your blog on mine.

- Peter Ingestad, Sweden

Anonymous said...

We have three shelter babies and I agree completely. A shelter is the best place to find a pet.

Our dog is a Australian cattle dog/boxer mix who might have some pit in her. People who see her always ask.
Last year we added two shelter kittens to the family. Within three days of adoption both kittens became horribly ill and needed antibiotics. We thought we would lose them but both are beautiful, healthy cats today.
At the shelter one of the kittens, a bouncing little orange male, had a sign on his cage saying "UNWANTED". He had been adopted, fixed and returned. Imagine out surprise when this sickly, unwanted kitten grew and grew and grew. He's a pure bred Maine Coon with perfect markings and would probalby sell at a breeder's for over $500! The nickname 'gentle giant' certainly applies to him. Suffice it to say, he has never had an unwanted moment in our family. His little gray striped 'sister' is just as loved.

When we are ready for another pet, we'll be back at the shelter again.
Sharleen

Anne-Marie said...

What a lovely post, Jessica, and what a charmed life you gave Sadie and now riggins. Both were lucky to find you.

My rescue shepherd cross Sheba died over 5 years ago after being with me 13 years, and it took me a long time to get over the heartbreak and get another dog. Whiskey is a boxer-shepherd and a great joy to us and the three cats, who are also all rescues. My sister has a post-Katrina Louisiana rescue mixed hound who found her way in an Ontario shelter due to the overflow, and she is also a delight. Of course, she and Whiskey are quite an item together- kissing cousins.

I echo Karla's words about our pitbull ban here- ridiculous, and a cause of great sadness to people who love their pitties. I wish our government would have more sense.

Jemi Fraser said...

Lovely post! Sadie and Riggins sound like wonderful dogs. I'm so glad they were able to find a happy home with you :)

Kristin Laughtin said...

Unfortunately I live in an apartment complex that doesn't allow dogs (and can't afford yet to move to one that does), but if I could, I would be adopting a shelter dog right now. I lost mine in February at the age of 13, a little runt in the shelter that we adopted at two months old, and she was the best dog anyone could ever ask for. I'm all about adopting from shelters, pounds, and rescues, and plan to do so as much as I can once I'm more settled in life and can afford it. I can't imagine doing it any other way.

I commend you for adopting a pit bull, too; they're a stigmatized breed, but some of the sweetest dogs I've ever met have been pits. They need homes just as much but often don't get them. Plus, they're really just adorable. I don't get how people can't see that!

Alina said...

I'm a pit bull lover as well. When my husband and I went down to Louisiana after hurricane Katrina to help with animal rescue, I'd say at least 85% of the rescued dogs were pit bulls. There were so many sweeties down there who would snuggle in every time you took them out for their potty break. I hope they all ended up in good homes or were reunited with loving owners. It was heartbreaking to see so many hundreds of them in kennels and not know what was going to happen to all of them.

My husband and I also pick up stray dogs whenever we find them and can coax them near enough to snap a collar on. We have a dog guard in every car. We had a dog for a while that we guessed was part pit and part border collie. He was at least 55 pounds and was DOMINATED by my 30 lb female blue heeler. He was eventually wooed away from us by some good friends of ours whose dog needed a companion. I guess they didn't want to offend us by changing his name so he's still called "Tiggetson"--Tiggs or Tiggy for short. I still think it fits him. :)

Maria Zannini said...

God bless you for taking in Sadie and Riggins. I'm so glad you found each other.

Like you. we tend to adopt the harder to place dogs. In our case it's rotties.

Thank you for posting this. I don't comment often, but this hit home.

Mira said...

I'm sorry too about Sadie - we love pets in a special way, and when we lose them, it is a very real and deep loss.

Both of your dogs have been so lucky to have such a loving home and wonderful parents.

What a gift to both of them, too, that you're helping their 'brothers and sisters' find good homes too. As an animal lover, I totally applaud what you are advocating. Yay, Jessica! :)

Gwen said...

Thank you for getting the word out about shelter dogs. I have two shelter dogs. I saw Sam, my husky on Petfinder.com after graduating from college. I have described this before and there is only way to put it: it felt like God kicked me in the back of the head. I knew he was my dog. I drove from Kansas to Indiana to get him. He has been the dog of my soul for a year and a half. And to think he was just a few days away from being euthanized. Last year, actually almost a year ago, I adopted Daisy, a pit mix from a shelter here in Kansas, to be a companion for Sam. She, too, had problems, but nothing too serious. With lots of love and training she's become a wonderful house dog. Anybody who says pit bulls are dangerous is ignorant, and anybody who says shelter dogs are 'damaged goods' doesn't have any idea of what they're missing. Dogs are a blessing and humans created the overpopulation problems in this country by greedy business practices and irresponsible ownership, and we have a responsibility to the dogs to help them. Thanks again for this post.

http://photos-b.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs225.snc1/7224_543565044539_40800396_31993745_1393786_n.jpg (I can't resist: here are my babies!)

Damaris said...

Thank you for posting about this! We adopted Buster, our Pointer Mix, from a shelter about two months ago. Living with an ever-growing puppy and a very curious toddler has proven to be a challenge, but we are sticking to our commitment (thank God for pig ears!). Also, I live in the top floor of a duplex - so I'm very familiar with the stair dilemma (had to carry him the first few times!). Still, nothing beats a loving mutt.

:)

Damaris

Ruth said...

What a lovely post. I love dogs and wish we could get one, but unfortunately local regulations mean our fencing isn't enough to keep a dog. I would always go to a shelter though; I don't understand why you'd ever go anywhere else for a pet.

We got our two cats from a shelter, and sadly one was hit by a train in June this year. We could never replace our beautiful Mitsi, and we don't want to; but to get another playmate for her surviving brother, we're going to go to the shelter again soon and find another cat to adopt.

I just don't want an animal to die needlessly when it could have been adopted out and become a pet. I'd be choosy about what breed of dog I'd get (once we have good fencing in place), but I would never want to know that an animal had died when I could have saved it and given it a home.

Laura K. Curtis said...

What sweethearts! We just came back from a vacation in Greece. On the small island of Skiathos, we discovered a fabulous dog shelter where tourists are encouraged to go and walk the dogs. Of course, we did it! The dog I walked was one who would soon be going to a new home...in Scotland! They adopt dogs out to different countries because of the large tourist population there--people go to walk the dogs and end up falling in love.

Aimless Writer said...

I'm a day late posting here but this comes at a perfect time. We lost our Sheltie, Loki (age 13)back in December. My daughter and her dog, Lani moved out in August. Now there's just our Golden, Halston (age 13) at home and we've been thinking about adopting another. I've been going back and forth wondering if Halston really wants another dog in the house or not. Halston's a lover, so I'm sure she'd be great with whoever we brought home, but still we were undecided. And then this post comes out of the blue like a little nudge in the right direction.
Thanks Jessica!
Your puppies are beautiful!

terri said...

Way to go! We have one purebred Chihuahua, one of her pups, and a rescue dog that is a Chihuahua-Min Pin mix.

The third (known around the house as 'Rocky' or 'The Rock') had been abused by women and had terrible issues with women. He warmed right up to my husband, but has taken nearly a year to trust me.

Now he is eight pounds of lovebug who pre-empts my lap whenever I sit down. We still can't let him off the leash (the two Wawas heel and follow obediently) and I can't trust him 100% with strangers, but he is morphing into a fantastic little critter.

I go both ways. Choose a reputable breeder who hand raises their pups like we did and the results are magic. Our mama dog was cage raised and she is still a little aloof, even after 8 years. Her pup that we kept has never touched the ground since we cut his cord and he is a delightful and loveable clown that I treasure every day.

On the flip side, a rescue dog tugs at your heart and pays you back in gratitude a million times. I can't imagine the house without Rocky (okay, it would be cleaner . . . ).

Throw a shelter cat into the mix and you have a real party! We happened into a cat shelter run by ex-hippies who also raised Chihuahuas to pay the bills. The result? A big, fat, laidback Jerry Garcia type of cat who loved little dogs . . .

Great post as always!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have rescued seven dogs since we got married in July 1999 -- and yes, for a period of several years, we had six dogs at the same time! There was T.C., the beagle who was afraid of people because he'd been so mistreated, and Sandy, a beautiful golden retriever/collie mix that wandered into our lives one day -- and stole my heart. There was Phoebe, who, at a year old, was scheduled to be euthanized; we drove five hours from our home in Michigan to where she was being kept in southern Ohio so that we could adopt her and save her from that awful fate.

There's D.O.G., a purebred, black Chow with so many health issues (he's actually allergic to the mites on his own skin) that he likely would have been euthanized had we not adopted him. Ten years later, he is the sweetest, most protective and loyal dog you'd ever want to meet.

There's Vada, a terrier mix who my husband claims "chose him" when he walked into the shelter. They shared an immediate connection and she played bowed and yapped at him like she'd known him all of her little puppy life.

There's Lucy, a purebred Siberian Husky with big blue eyes, who came from a petshop and, it was rumored, was about to be "dumped" by the owners because at the ripe old age of four months, she was no longer the newborn puppy that so many families want.

And then there's Cody. While attending a family reunion at a campground two hours north of us, we came across Cody. Actually, we almost hit him -- he dashed out into the road right in front of my husband's truck, but luckily, we were able to slam on the brakes in time.

Cody, the vet estimated, was six months old and would have had, at best, a week left to live had we not taken him in. He was covered in fleas, stunk to high heaven as he'd been rolling around in dead fish (likely in an attempt to get the fleas off of himself), was skin and bones, and had an upper respiratory infection. Yet, when we found him, he was wagging his tail.

He was 20 pounds soaking wet then; seven years later, he is now a very healthy 55 pounds. My husband says Cody is about the happiest dog you'll ever meet and that, if you look in the dictionary under "lucky dog," you'll see a picture of Cody, grinning, next to the entry.

It's like he somehow knows we saved his life. But does he have any idea how much happiness he's brought to ours?

Madison L. Edgar said...

Awwww look at Sadie laying in the grass and loving the outdoors! This post made me cry. I'm going to the shelter today...

emilymurdoch said...

Adopting an unwanted dog may not change the world, but it sure changes the world for *that* dog.

There are times in all our lives when we pray for a miracle -- for these dogs, we ARE the miracle. So many are curled up in the shelters right now, waiting for that second chance. It's heartbreaking to know most won't be that lucky.

Some of the dogs have pre-existing issues, some don't, and some are traumatized by the shelter experience. But with love, consistency, and a place to call home, the healing begins; for that dog, the world is righted, again.

Whatever road we travel in life, a dog at our side makes it all the sweeter. As I tell my husband, if there aren't horses and dogs in Heaven, then I'm not going.

emilymurdoch said...

One of the paragraphs disappeared in my previous comment; I also wanted to say what a wonderful post -- thank you for bringing attention to shelter dogs -- and, I'm so sorry to hear that Sadie crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Our own dog passed a little over 3 weeks ago. Saying goodbye is painful. "That's why I don't have dogs," a neighbor told me, "because it's so easy to get attached"

Of course it is! That's the *best* part!

Karla Brandenburg said...

I am not a dog person, and yet I completely support your post. One of my closest friends volunteers at a shelter and has adopted two wonderful coon hounds in addition to the two show dogs she already has. These dogs are the most lovable, friendly animals I've ever known and even if I don't want a dog of my own, these animals are almost enough to make me change my mind.

Coral Press said...

Great stories, and thanks for spreading the awareness! We love our Coral Press mascot, Biscuit the shih-tzu, and this post makes us appreciate him all the more.

Jess said...

I've had many dogs growing up. Many pets of assorted varieties, really. But my very first dog was a rescue. Not from a shelter, though.

My ex took me to a house of a friend he knew, and that guy's dog had just had a litter of pups. I had always wanted my own dog, so I picked one out, and would have to wait for her to be weened before I could pick her up.

When I went to pick up my Sheeba, her and her brothers and sisters were in a dirt cellar with no food, no water, and a baby blanket covered in feces. All of them were very badly neglected and emaciated. Oh man, my heart broke right there. I took her home that night, making a special trip to the store before arriving home so that she would have everything she needed.

I'm happy to say that her siblings, along with her mother, were taken to the nearest shelter. It just goes to show that there are people in this world who don't deserve to have dogs, or any kind of pet. They don't deserve the special love and affection that comes with those animals. Especially loyalty and respect.

Sadly, I lost her when she was only two. She broke loose of my father's grip when he was bringing her inside from her kennel. Someone intentionally swerved to hit her...and I found her lifeless body.

Gosh, I'm crying :[ There is so much to be said about dogs. Sheeba had issues, too. But she was my baby. I loved her all the same...still do. I haven't been able to bring myself to get another dog-it still hurts too much even though it was almost four years ago-but one day I will own another dog. When I have kids I want them to grow up with a four legged, slobbery, face-licking friend. And when the time comes, I will be adopting a shelter dog. No doubt about it.

jnantz said...

I try to maintain a "Rescue of the Week" on my writing blog, and I always will. There is nothing like a rescue dog. Our two girls were both rescues and there is no more loving pet than a rescue. I'm so glad you posted this, those stories were magical. Thanks Jessica. Oh, and from those pictures, your pups were/are ADORABLE!!

clindsay said...

How wonderful that Sadie found someone who was willing to love her so completely and give her the time and patience she needed.

And thanks for sticking up for pit bulls.

It's true - pit bulls are big, wonderful, goofy lap dogs, and not naturally aggressive toward people. Really great pets.

Alexis Grant said...

Wonderful post! Had no idea that it was National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month... I came across this post after posting on my own blog today a dog rescue story -- though I call it a love story :)

http://tinyurl.com/ydhndhs

Thanks for sharing!

Dana Fredsti said...

My dog (half Aussie shep and half Rottie) was adopted from a shelter on the she was going to be put down. We were together for 15 years. The most wonderful dog in the world. All of my cats are also rescues... so your post really hit home.

Jill H said...

We adopted a 3-yr old pit bull rescue last summer and can't remember what life was like before her. Many people discount adopting anything older than a puppy, but an adult dog can come with less responsibility (eg, already house trained) and just as much love to give. And yes, she too is like a 50-lb lapdog! Always crawling up on the couch to curl up with her head in my lap.