You’ve decided that now is the right time to add a furry companion to your family! That is so awesome! You go to your local shelter to walk around and look at all the dogs that are available for adoption. Great job on deciding to adopt and not shop! As you’re walking past all the dog kennels, you’ve noticed that a lot are barking and sound scary, don’t seem friendly, or are cowered in the back of their kennel looking very sad. There’s not a dog that comes up to you like a friendly puppy and they all seem too sad or scary to take home. So, you leave the shelter empty handed and go buy a puppy from Craigslist instead. NO! STOP! GO BACK!
You’ve got it all wrong! See, even though the dogs at the shelter are very well taken care of, they are very scared, confused, sad, and even sometimes depressed. Do you know how they got in that position to begin with? Yep, you guessed right. It was humans that did that to them. It could’ve been your friend, your next door neighbor, a co-worker, someone you trusted. Surrendering your dog to a shelter or rescue is not something that should be done because you’re fed up, mad, frustrated. It’s a decision that should be very well thought out and should be used as a last resort option. These are the heartbreaking reasons I’ve seen people dump their dog: “I’m moving and can’t take my dog with. I’m pregnant and the dog is acting weird. I just had a baby and I don’t have time for the dog anymore. The dog has pee accidents in the house.” Trust me, I’ve heard it all!
As a Canine Companion volunteer at Nebraska Humane Society, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several dogs. Dogs that are jumping like crazy because they have to go pee so bad and just want to get out. Dogs that are barking like crazy because I’m the 1,254,267th person they’ve seen walk past their kennel. Dogs that are so scared and won’t come to me unless I sit in their kennel until they feel comfortable. Dogs that sound and even look scary because they are unsure of humans. But do you know what all these dogs have in common besides being a dog? They are NOTHING like that once you get them outside in the real world. Now, I’m not saying that some dogs don’t have issues that will still need to be worked on once adopted, but the first step is giving them the chance to begin with.
In my experience so far as a dog volunteer, dogs that are dumped at the shelter sometimes develop issues while at the shelter because of all the strangers around, other dogs barking, a million different unfamiliar smells, or confusion and sadness of their family leaving them there. I’m not a behavior expert by any means. This is simply just from my perspective and experience of spending time with dogs. It doesn’t mean these issues can’t be fixed but like with any dog, including puppies, it takes time, patience, love, & compassion. The dogs you see at the shelter are just like any other dog. Only because their humans failed them, doesn’t mean they are any less worthy. Some love to play fetch, some love to go on walks, some love humans, some love dogs, some don’t prefer other dogs, some love belly rubs, some love butt scratches, some aren’t good around kids, most of them love treats, and ALL of them are good dogs!
Giving the dogs a chance to meet you outside of their kennel is the best way to get to know the dog and even sometimes a meet and greet can be overwhelming for the dog and for you. First impressions aren’t always right! Keep in mind that getting a dog that best fits your lifestyle and being committed to the dog through the end of their life is what will keep that dog out of the shelter system. Please understand that these dogs aren’t like shopping for a new outfit. Some don’t look their best and some don’t act their best, but know that given the chance and time, they will show you their true personality and give you all the love. So next time you’re at your local shelter, give the dog barking like crazy a chance. Give the dog looking sad and just laying there a chance. Give the dog jumping up and down a chance. Give the senior dogs a chance. Give any dog a chance that you will be 150% committed to through the end of their life because by you choosing to adopt you are literally saving their life and other lives!
With Love & Pawsitivity,
Susie Cogswell, Cogs Dogs Mom