According to the American Humane Society it's Adopt a Dog month. This is an annual month-long celebration of adopting rescues from shelters. The late Joan Rivers was quoted in the Daily Mail as saying "Always get a rescue. They're so grateful you've saved them." While I certainly have nothing against people who adopt puppies, I personally share Joan's opinion on rescues. So, when I decided to adopt a dog a few months ago, a rescue group was the first place I went.
I'll start by telling you the dog adoption world isn't what it used to be. When I was a kid, our family standard was to have one dog and one cat. I remember getting the dog that lived with me for most of my childhood. Baby, named after Baby in Dirty Dancing (no judging, it was 1986) was a Brittany Spaniel that we adopted from a lady who posted an ad in the paper announcing she had puppies to give away. So the whole family went and picked out Baby. The woman asked if we wanted a girl or a boy and sent us on our way! That was it. Dog ownership started.
Adopting my dog Porter was an entirely different process altogether. I recognize this is due to not just our changing attitudes about dogs, but that shelters and resue groups have also become more sophisticated about adoptions to avoid having dogs reenter the shelter. This is important. The best question they asked me is how much I thought owning a dog costs. As you know, it is way more than a monthly bag of food.
I found Porter through a group that works with the Humane Society of Cabo. Cabo's shelters tend to be overrun with dogs and cats due to a variety of reasons, including the locals of the area struggling to feed themselves. For many, pets can be a luxury.
My process included an application, interview, and videoed interaction with Porter. My parents live in Florida and on a routine call to them I let them know I was adopting a dog.
Real conversation with my dad:
Me: So, my application was accepted and I have a scheduled meeting with the rescue group and the dog I want tomorrow.
Dad: So you're picking up the dog tomorrow? That's great. Did you go buy food?
Me: No, I haven't seen the dog yet. I have to meet him so the rescue group and I can make sure we are a good match.
Dad: Oh. Is there a shortage of dogs up there in the northwest?
You can just guess what my dad said when he found out there was such a thing as doggie daycare and the one I liked had a waiting list. . .
Porter had a rough start in life. He was homeless and had some bad run ins with humans. He was scared to death when I brought him home. He just sat at the corner unsure what to do. He trusted dogs above all. Most people were scary and he had no idea what to do with toys and a dog bed. Squeakers were super scary. So was the TV. And the dryer. And the dish washer. The cat was confusing; he wasn't sure why the weird looking dog that lived with him was so ornery.
My philosophy in life is to have fun at whatever you do and I decided to implement that in Porter's life (along with a training class, structure, and overall safety). In fact, one of the first words Porter learned after his name was fun. We went running, walking, hiking, kayaking, to the dog park . . .we played. All the time. My goal: teach Porter the world was fun. Because it is.
And Porter began to smile. He is happy to see me. He is happy to wake up. He is happy to come home. He is happy when I say we're going to go do something fun.
And for someone who experienced some harder personal changes in my life around the time I adopted Porter, he helped me see the world through his eyes. Seeing a creature who had known no joy experience elation is pure happiness. And the reason I adopted a rescue. It was exactly what my life needed.
So thank you to American Humane Society for celebrating the joy of changing your life with a rescue. Now I have to go. Porter and I have something fun we need to be doing.