10 Things Only People Who Have Adopted A Dog From An Animal Shelter Understand
Most of my pets, both dogs and cats (although I prefer dogs!) have been "used" pets. They are not pets I got as puppies and kittens, they were older when I received them and someone else had owned them before me.
What can I say? I fall in love with animals and a grown-up animal is just as cute to me as a baby one.
A lot of people are scared to adopt shelter pets. They want cuter, smaller ones or are afraid that the pets are only in the shelter for misbehavior.
But people who have actually adopted pets from shelters that people abandon perfectly good pets for all kinds of selfish reasons. Most pets in shelters are actually very sweet and just in search of their forever home. In the right hands, they become the best pet someone could ever have.
Here's a list of ten things only people who've adopted shelter dogs understand...
1. Every Once In Awhile You Wonder About What Their Life Was Like Before You Owned Them
Dogs all have their own personalities and their special quirks. Some things are just the way they are, but other things they learned through experience. You're always wondering whether each of their quirks and where exactly it comes from.
For instance, my dog, for years, she used to grab large bites of food when I'd feed her, walk a short distance away, spit the food onto the ground and then slowly devour it. She stopped doing this over time, which leads me to believe she used to be one of many dogs that had to fight over food. She only had chances to quickly push through to get one giant bite to eat, so she'd bring it somewhere else with her mouth, in order to eat it without other dogs stealing it. Then she'd go back to the bowl and fight for another bite. Things were different at my house, but she still acted the same.
I also had another shelter dog who was terrified of hats. He'd bark at me and other people who were wearing hats, thinking we were complete strangers. I looked it up online and found out that when puppies aren't exposed to people wearing hats, they grow up to be terrified of them. That and other human behaviors that seemed to perplex him, plus the fact that he hated socializing, led me to believe that he came from a house where he was the only dog and lived with just one person who stayed inside most of the time.
I can't prove any of the things I observed about my shelter dogs are true. They are just guesses I made based on their behaviors and research.
It's what you do when you have a shelter dog, wonder about who they are, what their past is, where they came from. What was life like for them before they were your dog? The question becomes strangely fascinating.
2. When You See Pictures Of Puppies That Look Similar To Your Dog, You Wonder What Your Dog Must Have Looked Like As A Puppy
You love your dog. They are perfect. You wouldn't trade them for any other dog in the world and are happy you adopted them.
But a little tiny part of you is sad you never got to see how adorable they were as a puppy and wonders what they looked like every time you see puppies that are the same or a similar breed to your dog.
It's hard to picture them ever being that small, but you're pretty sure they looked absolutely adorable.
3. You Get Angry At The Person Who Abandoned Them...
Unless you know the reason they were abandoned was a legitimate one (like the person who owned them died), you get enraged thinking about how someone could abandon such a sweet, lovable dog.
Maybe it was because they moved and the new place didn't allow dogs, but you know you'd choose homelessness before abandoning your dog.
They just have such large, cute eyes and such sweet, sad faces. Even if they are supposedly vicious dogs (according to society and its judgment of their breed), the cuteness of their face is still the same. You'll never understand why someone could look into that and leave it behind.
This is ten times worse of a feeling if you adopted them from a kill shelter or a pound because you know someone left them to die and it hurts your heart that they were that close to being killed.
4. ...Yet You Appreciate Any Training They Received
On one hand, you absolutely despise the previous owners for abandoning their pet. On the other hand, you are thankful to them sometimes. Because of them, you didn't have to potty train your pet. Maybe they taught your pet to sit or various other commands. Maybe the dog is well-behaved because of the previous owner and friendly with strangers.
So as much as you want to be mad at them, you're also kind of thankful for them.
5. You Were Willing To Jump Through Hoops To Adopt Them
Unfortunately, a lot of times adopting a dog from a shelter is more difficult than adopting a puppy from a puppy mill...
It makes sense in a way. One group is trying to help dogs and the other is just trying to make money. Shelters know that their dogs have already been hurt and abandoned in the past. They don't want that pain to continue, so they check up on people to make sure their home is a good fit for them.
It is hard jumping through those hoops and waiting. It's stressful when you fall in love with a dog to realize that you might not get them if a shelter doesn't deem you good enough.
But it was love at first sight and you will do anything for this dog, even if it means jumping through a lot of hoops. And once that dog becomes yours, once you are finally able to bring them home, the whole thing becomes worth it.
6. You Know They're The Best Dog Ever
If there is one thing you are positive about, it's that the people who abandoned your dog made the biggest mistake of their life. Your dog is the best dog ever and you never think of them as some kind of inferior secondhand dog. In fact, you don't understand why people weren't fighting to own your dog.
7. You're Proud Of Your Dog More Than Most People Are Proud Of Their Dogs
Your dog has been through a lot and you know this. Yes, most people love their dogs, but you have the added knowledge of knowing that your dog has suffered in life. You may not know how, but you know they've recovered from that suffering. They've learned to love and trust again. Their coat is shinier than when you first got them. They always have that slobbery smile on their face where their tongue is hanging out. They've moved on from whatever happened to them.
You see the strength in that, You are left in awe of them, wondering why humans can't do the same thing.
8. You're More Protective Of Your Dog Than Other People Are Protective Of Their Dogs
But because of your dog's painful past, you are also crazy overprotective of them. Yes, people buy dogs for protection, but you want to protect your dog, too. They might have some anxieties from their bad past. You're doing whatever you can, being as patient as possible, to help them get past their issues.
They're just so sweet and you love them so much, you can't help it.
9. Because Of All These Things, You Spoil Your Dog More Than Most People Spoil Their Dogs
Yes, a lot of people spoil their dogs, but you know your dog lived a long time in cages and was maybe abused, so you want them to have everything to make up for it. You want their life now to be so happy that it's worth all the pain they endured in the past. You have a lot to make up for, so there's no such thing as spoiling too much!
10. You Know They're The Ones That Actually Rescued You
You were happy to adopt and help a dog in need,but in reality your dog meets your needs every day as well. They love you unconditionally, even though their previous owners didn't love them that way. They're there for you when you're sad or going through a tough time. They're a calming presence and never judge you, even though they've seen you do all kinds of embarrassing things in private. They're also a constant source of entertainment with all the funny and ridiculous things they do every day.
You'd gladly adopt a shelter dog again.
How Many Shelter Dogs Have You Adopted Over Your Lifetime?
How many shelter dogs have you adopted over your lifetime?
© 2018 EB Black