By Joy Lee, Co-Owner, Rover Oaks, Katy
My personal commitment to shelter adoption began with Tiny, a six-year-old poodle, sitting quietly in the midst of a bustle of energetic puppies at an adoption event in 1996. A rescue group had plucked Tiny from the city pound where he was surrendered for “running away”. There was an immediate connection between us and Tiny came home with me.
Yes, he did go adventuring several times (we quickly discovered all of the escape routes in the backyard), but once he was neutered and comfortable with us (he did show signs of previous abuse) he quit roaming. We nicknamed him the “shadow puppy” because once he decided that I was his person, he followed me everywhere. We learned that he was completely housebroken and knew basic obedience…and was a loving and wonderful dog!
Thousands of animals are surrendered each year to local shelters and animal control facilities. The reasons are many…strays, abandoned pets and victims of abuse or neglect, but also well-loved companions whose owners can’t care for them any longer. Approximately 25% of shelter pets are purebred! Sadly, many of these healthy, adoptable animals are euthanized due to overpopulation and overcrowding in shelters. When you adopt a rescue or shelter animal, they somehow KNOW that you have given them a chance at a better life, and provide unconditional love in return. Many are older, calmer and already housebroken.
Shelter or rescue adoption is not without challenges, however…many rescued pets may have quirks, fears, health or behavior problems related to their previous situations, and working with them can take time and patience…and sometimes the help of professional trainers or behaviorists. It may take a while for them to adapt to their new situation and to learn your expectations, but once they feel safe and secure, they are loyal and life-long friends.
When bringing a new pet, of any species into your home, consider how it will fit your lifestyle…if you are active and want a jogging companion, a young lab or border collie mix may be perfect for you; if you have a more sedentary lifestyle, an older and smaller pet who prefers to cuddle on the sofa is probably better. Visit with the animal to make sure you are comfortable with each other. Animals who appear shy or fearful (not making eye contact, hovering in the back of the enclosure) may ultimately make wonderful pets, but may require more time and patience to bond and adapt to new surroundings than those who appear happy and outgoing when you first meet.
Shelter adoption is not for everyone, but even if it’s not right for you there are many ways you can help homeless pets. Rescue organizations have an ongoing need for old newspapers to line enclosures, as well as old blankets, towels and other bedding. (Cash, food, supply and toy donations are also appreciated!) They welcome volunteers to help walk, socialize and otherwise care for pets. They offer and encourage everyone to support spay/neuter programs to help reduce pet overpopulation.
Visit www.houstonpettalk.com/resources to view a list of local adoption organizations.
As for Tiny, he has been joined over the years by four other “fur-kids” with their own sad stories. He is 18 now, and though his pace has slowed and various health problems have surfaced, he is still my “shadow puppy”.