By Judy Galbraith, dog-loving president and founder of Free Spirit Publishing
[Update: Check out this article for research supporting the benefits of pet-friendly offices: Your Definitive Argument for a Pet Friendly Office: A Pet-Friendly Policy Can Reduce Stress, Boost Productivity, and Boost Morale—You’ll Want to Take This List to Your Boss ASAP.]
October is American Humane Association’s Adopt-A-Dog Month to help promote and increase the adoption of rescue and shelter dogs. With all of the many wonderful rescue organizations and shelters that exist today, adoption can happen all year round. If you’re considering becoming a dog guardian, here’s why I believe adopting a shelter or rescue animal is a win-win-win.
First, both of my dogs were rescued, and I can’t imagine my life now without them. Coupled with their being wonderful additions to my life, it feels really, really good to rescue a homeless dog, knowing that you’re giving it a second chance at the companionship and loving environment that all dogs deserve (WIN #1). When you adopt, you’ve done a very good deed indeed!
Twiggy was a stray from Oklahoma, who made her way to the Twin Cities Animal Humane Society (AHS) via volunteers who transport homeless dogs from overcrowded shelters (Minnesotans are known for having high adoption rates . . . we don’t say Minnesota Nice for nothing). When I saw Twiggy’s picture on the AHS’s Adoptable Animals webpages, it was love at first sight for me.
I knew right away she was the grrrrrl for me, although Twiggy probably would’ve gone with Godzilla if it meant getting out of that noisy shelter. I immediately went to meet her.
She has turned out to be the best dog ever. Smart, funny, loving, and loyal, Twiggy comes to work with me every day. She has charmed the entire Free Spirit staff, even the so-called cat people! Twiggy’s a great ambassador for the power of dog love. I refer to her as our Chief of Inspiration. She’s not on the payroll, but she should be for all of the good things she brings to our workplace. Twiggy has a wonderful life now—I’m pretty sure being a stray wasn’t much fun (WIN #2).
Being the guardian for a dog or any animal is a serious responsibility, of course. But when you adopt a dog, you’re saving a very special animal from neglect, perhaps abuse, and loneliness. Because dogs are pack animals, they’re social creatures and they love interacting with the pack. For Twiggy and my other dog, Violet, that pack means me, my partner Gary, and the entire staff at Free Spirit. In addition, dogs can “read” human faces and pick up on our emotions and state of mind. When I’m upset, frustrated, or sad, there’s no better therapy than the love of my dogs (WIN #3).
Violet came to me last November through Small Dog Rescue of Minnesota. She’s a dear little Yorkie-Poo. I’ll admit, she’s been a handful to train (maybe the understatement of the year!). But with the help of obedience training classes at the Humane Society, she’s making great progress. I think I’ve learned as much as she has (BONUS WIN) and going to dog school has been a lot of fun (BONUS WIN)! And although she’s only 8 pounds, Violet has the heart and soul of a lion. She is a constant reminder of how valuable patience and consistency are (BONUS WIN). She tests both, and I’ve had to remember that persistence pays.
If you’re considering being a dog guardian but think adopting from a shelter isn’t for you because you’re partial to a particular breed of dog, think again. There are rescue sites for almost every breed of dog. If you’re not sure you’re ready for the commitment and responsibility of having a dog in the family, many organizations have foster programs. When you foster, you can “try out” life with a dog while providing it with companionship and a home until its forever family is found.
So, remember, if you’re able to open your home to provide a safe and loving environment for a dog, it’s at least a win-win-win. Now that’s a deal you can hardly refuse!
If you’ve rescued a dog (or any animal for that matter), tell us how you’ve benefitted. What has adopting meant for you?