Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Blog: October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Today, we have a guest blog by Emily, from Doodling Dogs! October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, but I got Elka from a breeder, and felt inadequate trying to discuss adoptions. Emily happily took the helm to talk about adopting her lovely Leila!

The American Humane Association has dedicated the month of October to Adopt a Shelter Dog Month.  There are an estimated 6-8 million dogs and cats entering shelters each year with 3-4 million being euthanized.  The purpose of Adopt a Shelter Dog Month is to increase the number of dogs adopted from shelters each month and to bring awareness to the many pro’s of adopting from a shelter.

Animal shelters have every kind of dog you might be looking for from puppies to senior dogs, and purebreds to mixes.  It is estimated that over 25% of dogs in shelters are purebreds.  Everyone wants to adopt a brand new puppy, because well who doesn’t love puppies, but there are so many great reasons for adopting an older dog as well.  Older dogs usually come trained with at least basic commands, they do not have the high energy that puppies do and since they are full grown you won’t be surprised with what type of breed they look like or how big they get.  When I adopted Leila I was told that she was a Rottweiler mix, which left me thinking she would be 50 pounds at least.  She is now almost 9 months old and only weighs 36 pounds and looks very similar to a shepherd with a curled inward tail. 

You do have to be careful when adopting a dog from the pound.  These dogs are kept in very unhealthy, dirty conditions, and you usually have no idea where the dog previously came from.  It is so important to take your new pet immediately to your veterinarian after adopting them to make sure there are healthy and get them vaccinated.  When I adopted Leila within the first 2 months she had Kennel Cough and Parvo.  My intentions are not to scare anyone away from adopting a shelter dog, just bring awareness that sometimes they do catch some things while in that environment. 

I adopted my little Leila when she was only 9 weeks old and she has brought joy to me ever since.  Raising a puppy has definitely been a handful and she has done her fair share of naughty things, but has been there when I needed her most.  I truly believe that rescued dogs act with a respect and thankfulness dogs from puppy stores or breeders do not have.  Even with Leila being so young the love and devotion she shows me is unlike anything I felt with my other dog.  At 5 months old Leila began getting very protective of me.  This was not in an overly aggressive way at all, but she is always alert and will let out a small growl when she hears a noise or sees people getting too close to our house.  I tell her thank you and she knows that I am aware and she stops growling.  There was one incident a few months ago where Leila jumped on top of me and nudged me until I woke up; because of a thumping noise she was hearing.  It turned out we were just having a huge dust storm that night, but I am so glad I have a dog that can notify me to things I am unaware of.

I do not regret adopting Leila one bit.  Even though she was very sick, treating her with medication and having great vets got us through everything.  Leila has been by my side during the most difficult thing I have had to go through yet, putting my first dog to sleep.  Having another a dog to come home to after that horrible last visit to the vet, helped me cope with just losing my best friend.  It still amazes me to this day that Leila seemed to understand the pain I was going through and at 5 months old instead of jumping all over me that day she laid next to me and rested her head on my knee and was there for me.  This was the greatest thing she could give me during that time.  I truly believe that owning and rescuing a dog from the shelter is one of the most rewarding things that you can do.  Not only are you saving the life of a dog, but you will have a companion who loves you and is grateful to you every single day.  Adopting a new dog always takes work and time, but in the end it will be worth every moment.