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The Joy and Rewards of Adopting a Pet from an Animal Shelter

Updated on July 16, 2012
Poppy | Source

I will Always Remember

Ever since I can remember, I have always shared my life with many pets. Growing up I can remember having dogs, cats, gerbils, rabbits, birds, fish, turtles, chicken, and even a duck. In fact, I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not have a pet or two.

Sadly, our pets do not last a lifetime. The time they share with us is very short. A few months ago, I had to put to sleep a beloved pet, a Cocker Spaniel named Poppy. He shared my life for fifteen wonderful years; however, it was not long enough if you ask me.

Reagan | Source

When Poppy left us, it left me and Gordo totally heartbroken. I cried nearly every day for months and swore up and down that I would not get another pet. After all, not only did I have little Gordo to take care of, but I also had two finches and two parakeets as well. Furthermore, the older I get, the less I want to do and having pets will keep you busy all the time.

Remembering a few years back, Gordo came into our lives after I lost Reagan. Reagan was a sweet Australian Sheppard/Terrier mix that was adopted from an animal shelter. She was a member of our family for sixteen loving years. When she went to doggy heaven, Poppy and I were left very heartbroken and lonely.

Being an advocate for animal shelter and rescue adoptions, I began to look into shelters for a companion for Poppy. This is when I met Gordo, a black Peek-a-Poo. Gordo was in a corner locked away in a cage, put on display for everyone who walked in. He looked so pitiful that no one stopped to look or even consider him. Thinking back now, even I had passed him a couple of times.

Gordo when he came home from the shelter (Mar. 2008)
Gordo when he came home from the shelter (Mar. 2008) | Source

We’re In It For The Long Haul

When it came time to chose, Gordo was not my first choice, as I had already decided on another dog, but the shelter informed me the dog I wanted was not ready to for adoption. Determined to go home with a little companion for Poppy, I continued to look at all the animals. Then the woman working at the shelter pointed at Gordo, and asked “why not him?” I was not sold on the idea but decided to give him a second or should I say, third look anyway. Gordo had an under bite, his fur looked unhealthy and was falling out in patches, and at the time, he was not the cutest dog in the place.

I brought Poppy and Gordo together at the shelter to see if they got along. The woman began to tell me that Gordo had been surrendered twice: Once from his original owners and then from a couple that had previously adopted him and decided not to keep him. Gordo had been at the shelter for nearly three months. I could not imagine an animal locked up in a cage for nearly three months. That would explain the unhealthy fur, which was an indication of continual stress, fear, and lack of love.

I asked if there was problem with the poor little dog and she said that no one had wanted to work with him. Hearing this broke my heart, so I decided to adopt Gordo. Before I left the shelter, the woman said to me “if you decide you do not want him, please try to find him a home before bringing him back to the shelter.” I told her he was not going to be brought back. He had a permanent home. The next few months that followed was quite an adventure for everyone in the house.

Gordo and the Red Ball (Jan. 2011)
Gordo and the Red Ball (Jan. 2011) | Source

As soon as Gordo came home, he joyfully discovered all the freedom he had. He had a doggie door that led to a big fenced-in yard with many little places to explore. He romped around the backyard for what seemed a long time. I imagine he was in shock at the open space and all the freedom he had after being locked away for so long. He was pampered and loved from day one, and in time, he transformed into a beautiful little dog. His fur stopped falling out and it grew in healthy, shinny and curly. He gained a whopping five pounds, and was the happiest little guy in the planet.

In the beginning, Gordo was undisciplined and things got a little rocky at times. He kept me very busy around the house picking up after him, and many times, I found myself half-jokingly threatening to take him back to the shelter. One day I came home to find he had raided the laundry basket and had taken out my undergarments, and strategically placed them, in plain sight, all over my backyard. Another day, I found my decorative pillows missing from my couch. I later found them in the back yard covered in mud. How he managed to squeeze two large pillows through a small doggie door is beyond me?

With such a mischievous and rambunctious little guy, I had to place things differently around the house. I had to remove all my plants and potpourri from his reach or they would become unrecognizable chewed-up pieces all over the floor, and then there was the danger of poisoning if he had ingested them. When I was not home, my bedroom became off limits because he was determined that my bed would never stay made, never ever again. When it came to teasing Poppy, he would steal Poppy’s favorite red ball and lay on top of it so Poppy would not take it from him.

The real test came when my son came home to visit during the holidays. It seemed that Gordo did not like men because whenever my son walked by him, Gordo would try to nip him at the heels. However, that did not last very long. Five days later, they were both cuddled up on the couch watching TV together.

I smile now when I think about these things but there was also a time when Gordo, for no apparent reason, would hide, and would be afraid to come out. The first time I discovered this odd behavior was a few weeks after bringing him home. I got his dinner ready and began to call for him. When he did not respond, I went searching for him and could not find him. My heart leaped at the frightening thought that somehow he got out of the yard, so I ran outside looking for him. When I saw no signs of him getting out, I went back into the house and re-looked. That is when I found him behind the door of the guest bathroom, shivering in the dark. I often wondered what could have happened to this little guy. Was he abused or traumatized? Did he miss his former family? All I could do is reassure him with love and extra attention. Thankfully, this behavior eventually stopped but it took nearly a year.

It has been three years since I brought Gordo home, and he is a changed little dog. I call him my little Koala bear. Since I first brought him home, he has calmed down quite a bit but occasionally, when his old playful mischievous nature wants to resurface, I still remind him that it is not too late to take him back to the pound.

Kobi after his bath (Apr. 2011)
Kobi after his bath (Apr. 2011) | Source

In Search For Another Pet

Now that Poppy was gone, it was just Gordo and me. I had decided not to get another pet but Gordo was not bouncing back from his loss, and if it were not for him, I would have not reconsidered adopting another pet. Therefore, once again I set off in search for the perfect companion for us. Weeks passed as I visited shelters in my area looking for the right dog. I saw the saddest little faces peeking out at me through their cages. I knew they would be destroyed and I wanted to adopt them all.

I wondered about the lives many of these animals had. How sad that there are so many unwanted animals in the world. Many people do not think twice at surrendering their pets after their pets have become part of the family for many years. They walk into shelters and abandon their pets, some without even a second thought, glad to be rid of them. Why do they have pets to begin with? Don’t they know that kill-shelters destroy millions of unwanted pets a year? People are under the impression that shelters will try to get their abandoned pets adopted before killing them but they are very wrong! And even if they are fortunate enough to be adopted, the emotional scars and trauma they endure is enough to kill them.

Last year alone, at one of our local animal shelter, over 10,000 unwanted animals were euthanized. Many of these unwanted pets were brought in by ignorant or insensitive pet owners, while others were picked-up from wandering the streets due to neglectful and irresponsible pet owners. When an animal comes into the shelter, they look at the shape the animal is in. If the animal is injured, sick, or un-adoptable due sometimes to temperament, they are not given a second chance, they are destroyed. However, the majority are destroyed because of lack of space at the shelters. While there are many good people that will try to save them from high-kill shelters, unfortunately, there are not enough willing people in the world to save every one of them.

How do we stop pet overpopulation and the destruction of millions of animals? The solution is very simple. Be a responsible pet owner. Responsible pet owners should spay/neuter and microchip their pets. A wandering or lost un-altered pet will eventually impregnate another animal or come home pregnant. This will add to the ever-increasing pet overpopulation problem that will ultimately lead them to their deaths. If you cannot care for or afford a pet, or if you are a renter, do not adopt any pets. Unless you are willing to be a responsible pet owner, sacrifice your time and money, and even risk being evicted from your apartment, get the thought out of your head. In the end, these unfortunate animals pay the price because of your impulse to have a pet.

Kobi and the Red Ball (Apr. 2011)
Kobi and the Red Ball (Apr. 2011) | Source

In my search through the animal shelters, I am reminded all over again of the cruelty and neglect of humans towards these poor little creatures, and how important it is to be a responsible pet owner. This is where I met Kobi, a brown and red Cocker Spaniel. At that time, he was not named Kobi but “Lucky.” When I saw a photo of Kobi at the animal shelters’ website, it was love at first sight or so I thought at the time. Since the shelter already had my application on file, I called the shelter and told them I was interested. The shelter wanted to be rid of him so fast that they neutered, microchipped, and turned him over to me all in the same day. However, when I came to pick Kobi up and laid eyes on him for the first time, I shrank back at what I saw.

Kobi had been found wondering the streets in a pitiful state. His coat was badly matted and covered with prickers that were painfully embedded into his skin. He was filthy, reeked of urine, underweight, and both ears were badly infected. I wondered if he looked that bad on the outside, what else could be wrong with him in the inside.

Determined, I brought Kobi home. Since he had undergone surgery earlier in the day, I cleaned him up as best as I could, removed all the painful prickers, trimmed and clipped all the matted fur, and tried to make his first night as comfortable as possible. From the first, I knew Kobi had a big and noble heart. He was starving for affection and warmed up to me immediately. We bonded that first day. Gordo was another story. It took a few days for him to adjust to the new kid on the block, but now Gordo is showing Kobi the ropes. He shows Kobi who to bark at, which birds to chase in the yard, and the rules about the red ball.

Almost immediately, I noticed something in Kobi that brought me to tears. Kobi strangely behaves like my beloved Poppy. Like Poppy, he will not lose sight of me. Wherever I am, there is Kobi. Kobi is at my feet, by my bed, or in the bathroom with me. Gordo showed Kobi how to wait for mommy to come home from work, just as Poppy had shown him. So, every day Kobi and Gordo wait for me to come home by the fence, ready to greet me as I pull up the driveway. Kobi is perfectly well behaved and obedient just like Poppy, and he loves his red ball… just like Poppy. There are still a few rules he needs to learn but he is eager to please. Presently he is learning, we do not shoot in or out the doggie door like a missile... we walk, there will be no running in the house, and we do not jump excitedly on mommy every single time we come in from the back yard.

Kobi has only been in my family for a little over two weeks, but you would think he had been raised in our home from the start. He is gaining weight, is being treated for his bad ear infection, and after a very refreshing bath, his coat is beautiful and healthy. His past is history. If it happens that he should develop any health problems, as a member of my family, he will be taken care of.

What makes Kobi so unique? He was unwanted and starving for love, just like Gordo, Poppy, and Reagan. Unwanted, neglected, discarded, abused, and unloved pets make the best pets. They will love you no matter what others have done to them in the past.

Kobi is now a loving member of my family and is no longer someone else’s discard; he is all mine now and has a permanent home. Kobi has brought joy and happiness back into our home after we lost our Poppy, and there is no greater reward than that.

Kobi today (Feb. 2012)
Kobi today (Feb. 2012) | Source



©Faithful Daughter

All rights reserved. Any redistribution, reproduction, republishing, rebroadcasting or rewriting of part or all of the contents in any form or manner is prohibited without the express written consent of the author and owner, Faithful Daughter.
All rights reserved. Any redistribution, reproduction, republishing, rebroadcasting or rewriting of part or all of the contents in any form or manner is prohibited without the express written consent of the author and owner, Faithful Daughter. | Source


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    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 5 years ago from Sunny Florida


      Thank you! And what a blessing you are to those dogs and puppies you are fostering. I believe as you that they worship those who come to save them, and to experience this is not only humbling but more than enough reward.

      Volunteers like yourself are the true heroes. Just recently, I e-mailed the high kill shelter I adopted "Kobi" from and included a photo of him. In my e-mail I thanked all the volunteers there letting them know how important they all are and that they are probably the only love many of those unfortunate animals will ever know. Immediately, I received a response from the director, in tears, letting me know how my e-mail had touched them all. I didn't think it was a big deal because I was only telling the truth.

      Jan, I think what you are doing for those pups is amazing! Keep up the good work!

    • Jan Johnson profile image

      Jan Johnson 5 years ago from Brighton, Tennessee

      Wonderful story of adoption. I foster dogs and puppies from a high kill shelter. When you rescue a dog from a shelter, they look at you with hero worship. They love you for saving them. I know your babies love you unconditionaly. They know how you changed thier lives! Thank you for saving them.

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida


      Thank you!

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Jean, what a blessing that these pups found a good loving home. What an awesome thing you did adopting from a shelter. I know what you mean about all sleeping in your bed, I'm thinking of buying a bigger bed because I barely have room for myself anymore. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing.

    • profile image

      jean scott creighton 6 years ago

      My last four dogs were all from the shelter and

      not young. But they have been and still are a joy.

      One cocker spaniel, one Portuguese Water Dog, one

      wonderful black long haired something weighing 50 lbs.

      plus a happy beagle collie mix that looked like a foxhound. All took to home life and training and sleeping in my bed.

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida


      Thank you for your uplifting comment. I couldn't agree with you more about the grief and sadness one experiences when you lose a beloved pet. It takes someone who has a special bond with their pets to know what another person is going through. When I adopted my new family members, it did not only help with my pain but it saved an animal from death, and as you said, a miserable existence. Thank you for the vote and well wishes.

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 6 years ago from Sweden

      You touched my animal loving hart to tears by reading your wonderful but also sad story. I have lost many animals in my life. The sadness is indescribable.

      By rescuing an animal from living a miserable existence, you will get a best friend for life!

      You got my vote up, and all the best to you.

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida


      Thank you for your wonderful comment! :)

    • MarkMAllen15 profile image

      MarkMAllen15 6 years ago

      Amazing post.

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Pets and the Sity,

      My head is swelling and puffing up at your very uplifting comment, thank you! :)

      But I in all honesty, I don't think of myself as a hero when I see I cannot do more for these poor little ones left behind; it is heart-breaking to see so many put down.

      My aim here is to share my experience and put the word out in the hopes that people would adopt from shelters, and also for people to think twice before getting a pet if they are not going to commit to it.

      Thank you for reading and your beautiful comment.

    • Pets and the Sity profile image

      Pets and the Sity 6 years ago from Atlanta

      You are a hero and a star! What an insightful and inspiring story!

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Thanks Lulu,

      Yes there are way too many lonely and abandoned pets. It is very sad when you see them at the shelters waiting to be adopted. Many of them are not and they are put down.

    • LULU SUE1987 profile image

      LULU SUE1987 6 years ago

      Very good hub. There are so many lonely pets waiting to be adopted.

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida


      Thanks for stopping by. Another happy ending for another little one. Awesome!

    • bargaincds profile image

      bargaincds 6 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      Thanks for such an awesome story. I adopted a cat from a local shelter and she is such a part of my family.

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida


      Thank you for your inspiring words. Yes, my little Gordo was a pistol; he is now quite tame (most of the time) and a sweet little dog. I can tell by your comment that you would be a very responsible pet owner when the time is right for you. When you do decide to adopt one, your pet will be one very blessed doggie to have such a wonderful dad to share in his or her life. May God bless you!

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      What a heartwarming and entertaining story. I had to laugh at Gordo's antics, he has quite the mischievous streak in him. I am grateful that you take care of so many unwanted animals. If I had a place and the time to spend with a dog, I would get one today. I love dogs to death, and your story of compassion does nothing to change that! God bless you.

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida


      Thank you for stopping by and your comment.

    • Mih36 profile image

      Mih36 6 years ago from New York

      Everyone should look into adopting. We have 2 beautiful cats. We love them

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida


      Thank you for reading and commenting. Getting the word out on shelter and rescue adoptions was my aim. Hopefully it will also discourage people from taking on pets if they are not going to be responsible for their little lives. These are living things and not something to be discarded as trash or to be abused. Thankfully there people out there that are adopting from shelters and rescues, however, sadly enough there aren't enough to save every single animal. God bless!

    • profile image

      Alaster Packer 6 years ago

      Thank you for this wonderful story and help getting the word out on shelter adoptions. Most of these potential friends will sense that you have saved them from a sad end and repay the kindness many fold. And oh yes how we love and are loved. Bless you Faithful Daughter.

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida


      Thanks for stopping by. It's awesome that you adopted from a shelter! I love to hear happy stories like that. Animals have so much love to give that it is unfortunate not everyone appreciates them. Thank you for rescuing Lacy from a shelter.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 6 years ago from United States

      Wonderful story, Faithful Daughter. We got our pet, Lacy, from a Golden Retriever shelter four years ago and she has been a joy. I hurt for your loss of Poppy and Reagan. I am so glad you decided to adopt again. Thanks for sharing with us!

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida


      Thank you for your words of kindness. How awesome to hear that there are more people out there that think as I do. I think the world is a better place with people that care for and adopt these unwanted animals. Thank you for stopping by and sharing.

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida


      my heart goes out to you at the loss of Oreo, but I am very happy to hear you found an addition to your family. The new pup has found a great home with you and your wife. Awesome story! Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 6 years ago

      What a beautiful story..I also have got my animals through the years from the shelters and have never regretted one. This was so inspiring and I loved it from top to bottom. Thanks you


    • Unchained Grace profile image

      Unchained Grace 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      FD, you and I are cut from the same cloth. Recently my wife and I had to put down our beloved Oreo. A very old Beagle who had an irreparable massive stroke. We felt as you did, though for us, it was the guilt behind Oreo that caused us to balk on a new pet. Our Bishop, Kenneth A. Savage, explained to us it wasn't a matter of REPLACING a dear part of our family but a brand new ADDITION! With that in mind, we got right down to the Animal Shelter and there she was! A little Beagle/Jack Russel puppy that had ben found wandering in the street. The people in the shelter really looked after this little puppy! Well, now we are and we introduced her to Oreo through photos. The new little addition is LuLu and she is a beautiful little loving puppy whogets all Mommy and Daddy's attention!!! You get all the props on this one!!

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Neon, thank you for your inspiring comment. I am not perfect, but I do have a heart for all of God's creatures and hate animal cruelty. I hope more people would adopt from a shelter or rescues. Thank you for stopping by.

    • Neon Tiger profile image

      Neon Tiger 6 years ago from Ireland

      Your story had me in tears, if only there were more out there like you!