Having a lot of friends that have dogs and cats with them in the truck when they are out on the road, I have a great appreciation for the love and companionship that ‘fur friends” can provide. Having had animals in the past and knowing my family wanted one in our home soon, with recent repeated requests from my oldest daughter for a dog, I was beginning to consider my options. I had always raised mixed-breed “grocery store” pups and baby kittens when I was young. Knowing now that most of those are the result of irresponsible pet owners not sterilizing their animals, resulting in unplanned litters, I did not want to go that route for our family pet. Going with a breeder was another consideration, but not contributing to a “puppy mill” scenario is always something else that weighs heavily when considering a new dog.
While my wife was talking with a good neighbor friend of ours who has several wonderful dogs that get along great with our kids, she let us know that she had attained all of them at the same animal shelter on the other end of the valley as rescues. We had a particular breed in mind, which she just so happened to already have and were happy when she had found another one several days later up for adoption soon at that same shelter. Although I was apprehensive about rescue dogs and having to deal with past problems and bad habits created with their previous owners, I felt a sense of good might come from helping to give a shelter dog a “second chance” at a good life. My main concern was finding the right dog with the temperament to handle a chaotic household with young children, as I would not accept any animal that might be even the least bit aggressive with my daughters.
The day she came available, my wife went to the shelter to see her, accompanied by the neighbor that helped us find her and had such great luck finding dogs there before. Thank goodness our neighbor agreed to go and showed up early to secure a spot at the front of what turned out to be quite a line for this particular dog and several select others. My wife was able to be the first to visit the dog we were interested in ahead of many others and decided that she would be the proper fit for our family. I told my wife to fill out the paperwork and that I would make a visit with her and the girls that afternoon to make sure she would react to all of us together in a favorable way before having her surgically sterilized to take home with us.
Knowing that she was a Great Dane already, which was one of several large breeds we were considering, we were able to confirm that afternoon that she lived up to the breed’s reputation of being a “gentle giant”. She seemed to have been well taken care of at a healthy 115 pounds and was approximately 3 years old. With an average lifespan of only 7-8 years, we also knew that she stood less of a chance than a puppy of getting a “forever home”, since older dogs are more likely to be returned if they are discovered to have already been “set in their ways” in opposition to what the new owner might want. Being a very large breed, it is common for them to be brought back because people fail to realize how much room they truly take up in a home. The reward we got out of helping her and bringing her home to find out she is the perfect fit for this chaotic family makes the experience of adopting her a very rewarding experience. Getting over my own fear of adopting an animal versus raising one from birth makes me want to spread the word to others that may have the same reservations about the process. As long as you take the time to make an educated decision based on your needs and wants, pet adoption when considering your next “fur friend” may be the perfect path to find an animal that rewards you with love and companionship in exchange for giving them a second chance at a happy life!