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To Rescue or Be Rescued, That is The Question...
Rescuing a dog through adoption from a shelter or a pound is a major responsibility, but one that could be a wonderful and life-altering pleasure and privilege. Believe me, your best furry friend will remain grateful and loyal to his last breath.
It is estimated that millions of healthy dogs are put down every year because of an inability to find a forever home. Overpopulation in shelters resulting from failure to spay and neuter family pets is just one of many reasons for this sobering reality. The current housing crisis has also contributed significantly to a sharp increase in the number of dogs seeking permanent homes.
Such statistics cut me to the quick. As a dog lover and someone who has always known she was meant to be a dog mom, I would have a whole house full of playful pups if my husband would let me. As it is, we have only one, but we love him to pieces -- he is spoiled rotten, but I am convinced that it is deservedly so. He joined our home within a month after I put down my very first dog because he was losing his battle to a very aggressive and nasty cancer, and I couldn't bear to see him suffer.
I know there are some who have questioned whether I gave myself enough time to grieve before jumping into pet parenthood again. But, the truth is that the grieving process began for me as soon as I learned of my previous dog's cancer diagnosis. By the time he bid us a permanent farewell, I was heartbroken but greatly relieved that he was now free of his terrible ordeal. At the same time, I knew I had a home and the means to be able to care for another dog and love him deeply. The void left behind after my dog's passing combined with the deafening quietness within my home was just too much to bear. I knew I needed to save another.
This time around, the entire adoption process was very different from my first experience over 14 years ago. Much of the process actually took place over the Internet. I knew I wanted a mixed breed shelter pup, so I set about looking through lots of ads and pictures on the Web. I eventually stumbled upon a picture of a very alert and inquisitive pup that appeared to be scoping a way out of his crate. It was instantly obvious to me that he was full of personality and didn't miss a trick, and I knew he was the one for me. Fortunately, I was able to convince my husband that he would be a wonderful addition to our home.
I brought our new puppy home on Halloween, and promptly informed everyone that he was no trick, just our special treat. He was only about five months old when we adopted him, so my husband and I had to learn the ropes about house-breaking a new puppy pretty quickly. I have to admit that there were a few occasions when I wondered if I had made the right choice -- like when he literally chewed his way out of his metal crate and was left looking like a boxer who had lost the fight. But, we loved him deeply, and the bond between us just grew stronger every day. On some level, I felt he knew we had saved his life, and he was grateful to be with us.
We put him through obedience training as a way of ensuring he knew the rules and understood that there was a code to live by in our house. As far as we are concerned, he is well behaved, but he definitely rules the roost and conducts himself as though he owns the place. To say that he has us wrapped around his paws is an extreme understatement. But, the love, attention, and unconditional acceptance he unselfishly bestows upon us is a gift you cannot put a price on. We consider ourselves blessed to have been lucky enough to be the ones to take him home.
If you are likewise fortunate to be able to rescue a dog from a shelter, you may just find that you are actually the one being rescued!