Both of my dogs are shelter dogs. One is probably a purebred field lab, and the other is a border collie- and-something mix (if I had to guess, I'd say she's a breed like a flatcoat retriever.) I'm convinced that my two $80 dogs are the best thing I've ever spent money on. They have, quite literally, changed my life in wholly unexpected ways, since I had never had a dog before.
I adopted my lab (China) first and the intense learning curve began. She was around 8 months old, so starved that you could see every rib. She was emaciated and in such bad shape that it took 6 months to get her healthy. In fact, she didn't even look like a pure lab - the shelter called her a mix. When she started to put on weight, it turned out that she's a classic field lab. I've been told by breeders that the only reason she couldn't be shown as a show dog is that her tail is too long (which I find hilariously funny). Apparently, everything else about her is just about as perfect as it gets.
To watch her go from being a frightened and sick dog with no energy or life into a ball-crazed, fun loving, swimming and play machine was a beautiful, beautiful thing. And the change it made in me was huge. I had to learn everything about dog training - which meant I also had to learn a huge amount about my own emotional management skills. China, because of her history, is extremely sensitive and responds immediately to my every change in mood. So, to keep her calm and unafraid, I've had to learn how to stay calm myself - no more anxiety-ridden messes for me!
And to adopt a dog (especially a first dog) in such bad physical shape made me learn tons about health issues - all of which also apply to people. I'm a much smarter, wiser, and better informed person now than I was just a few years ago.
Yes - it cost me a ton of money and heartache to get her healthy and balanced - but wow! It was a huge amount of work in many ways, but it's so worth it. She is now a beautiful dog that people fall madly in love with and is the sweetest, gentlest and best companion I can imagine having.
Maybe one day soon I'll do a post on the lessons my border collie mix taught me -- she brought a whole new learning curve!
I love 'em both and am so grateful that I got to have the experiences they've both given me. In fact, they have both been such an inspiration to me that I even did the major life change move of starting an online dog supply business (Camping Dog Supplies) because I wanted to find good stuff for my pups. And so, now I'm sharing my finds with other folks who feel the same way I do.
It's true that you never really know exactly what you're getting with a shelter dog until you've brought them home - they might be just wonderful, or they might have issues like China did. But if you're willing to spend the time and take the plunge - there really is no better gift you can give yourself.
I was fresh into my move to California, when taking a break from job hunting, began spending some time in the pet section on Craigslist. Minutes later I came across a post with the 3 cutest little faces I had ever seen, and a title that read "Kittens need foster home or they will be Euthanized by 7pm tonight…" It was 5pm, I wasn't sure I even liked cats, nor had I ever imagined owning one, but something in me couldn't resist responding… And so, here are my foster … more
I had no idea October is Adopt-A-Pet-Month. What a coincidence that I adopted a 6 months old puppy last week from Southeast Animal Control shelter in Downey, CA. It was totally a chance that I ended up adopting my puppy. Long story, but a lot of things were in play. Maybe this is what we call fate. I was very hesitant to get a dog because of our work schedule and neither my husband nor I had any dogs before. I went … more
Did you know that October is Adopt-A-Pet month? If you have never adopted an animal from your local animal shelter then you are missing out on one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have. About a year and a half ago we had to put down our cat following complications from dental surgery. We were heartbroken and as you might expect our initial reaction was that we did not want another cat. But about a week later … more
I have always loved animals and have been given the gift of being loved back by them. Seven years ago, I adopted an 8-month-old puppy who was starved and mistreated from a local shelter. In learning about … more
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An animal in a shelter facility that houses homeless, lost or abandoned animals; primarily a large variety of dogs and cats. These animals are kept at the shelter until they are either reclaimed by an owner, adopted to a new owner or placed with another organization.