An Ode to Rescue Dogs

You’ve probably heard the phrase “adopt, don’t shop.”

This is meant to encourage you to get your next furry forever friend from a shelter instead of from a pet shop, (which could soon be illegal anyway) or a breeder.

I do understand why in certain cases you may want to purchase a pet of a specific lineage – to get a dog or cat that is hypoallergenic, for example, or perhaps bred for hunting or corralling livestock, or some other function – I also think that for most families in most situations, your basic mutt is going to do just fine.

We adopted our first rescue dog in 2003. We weren’t motivated by a higher noble cause. We just wanted a dog. We knew they had some dogs available for adoption at the local SPCA, so that seemed like a logical place to start our search.

As we browsed the kennels, every dog in the place was jumping around and barking except for one: a little brown pit bull terrier mix named Sloan. She was just sitting there, looking at us like if we wanted to adopt her, she’d be cool with that, but if not, that would be OK, too. You know, whatever.

You can probably guess what happened next. Sloan came to live with us, and she had certainly pulled a fast one. We thought we were adopting a totally chill dog, but what we actually brought home was a little maniac. She mellowed in her later years, but along the way she shredded a couch cushion, bit a chunk out of the windowsill, chewed the antenna off a cordless phone, and even figured out how to open doors to escape the house – among other things.

But she also changed a lot of minds about the “pit bull” breed. I remember telling our families that we were adopting Sloan, and the reaction was largely the same – something along the lines of “why would you get a dangerous dog like that?” And then they met her and that was the end of THAT line of questioning.

Sloan was a master cuddler, kiss-giver, and lap-smotherer. She especially loved our nephews, ages three and one at the time we brought her home. Whenever we would have the boys over at our house, I’m pretty sure Sloan was a much bigger draw than we were.

And so it went for the next 14 years. Sloan loved every person she met, and they all seemed to love her back. We said goodbye to her in 2017 at the age of 15, and while all our time with her didn’t feel like nearly enough, we knew it was time to let her go.

Today, we have two rescued pit bull-type dogs – a shy, skinny girl from New York City and a muscleman from Georgia who wants to give all of the kisses. They are the best of friends and every day is an adventure with these two.

If it hadn’t been for Sloan, I don’t know if we would have stayed on the rescue dog path, or if we would have become advocates for dog rescue and for the elimination of discriminatory laws that target certain breeds. I know we won’t change everyone’s mind, but every person who meets our dogs and gains a new perspective is one more person out there spreading the message.

If you’re feeling lonely, or perhaps your life is a little too staid, a pet will fix that. And if you’re in the market for a furry friend now, your timing is spectacular. With Hurricane Dorian wrecking havoc on the Bahamas and Southern US, many animal shelters have had to be evacuated. Many of their animals were relocated to the northeast and are looking for forever homes.

Additionally, southern states like Georgia tend to be high-kill, so rescue groups in this area, like the Animal Farm Foundation often source from the south, bringing animals up here where they have a better chance of being saved.

In the end, in my opinion, knowing you saved a life when you brought someone home from a shelter, while getting some unconditional love in the process, well, there’s not a whole lot that can top that.

(The photo that accompanies this post is the author’s beloved late pooch, Sloan).

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