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I never thought I’d say this, but October is starting to be my favorite month of the year. Growing up in Europe, October was always one of my most dreaded months, with the kind of weather that makes you want to curl up on a sofa with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. Well, nowadays October means the end of the summer heat here in Arizona, and more importantly, October is breast-cancer awareness month (a cause I support vigorously) as well as Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog month, something else that’s very important to me. I LOVE dogs. We have 3 dogs in our household, from tiny to big, old to young, purebred to “Heinz Variety”-mutt. And yes, all of them are shelter dogs.
I never considered anything but a shelter dog. When I moved to the US and started looking into getting a dog, I was shocked to see how many dogs are euthanized each year: Animal Rights organizations estimate that 4.5 million cats and dogs are killed at shelters in the US each year (there are no exact numbers because shelters are not required to track them). Yes, 4.5 MILLION! Each time I read this, it brings tears to my eyes. Most of these animals are being euthanized due to overpopulation at the shelters, they’re not sick or aggressive, just unlucky. Our Labrador Gypsy was one of them: She was on the kill-list, ready to get euthanized. The reason she was one there: “Just another black dog”.
I immediately fell in love with Gypsy when I saw her, a beautiful lab mix, barely a year old with the cutest smile. She definitely has the lab characteristics, i.e. high energy, love for water, high energy, food, food, more food, oh, did I mention high energy? Yes, I’ve spent a lot of time training her with moderate success (I partially blame my husband who treats her like a princess). Gypsy has stolen food, destroyed shoes, eaten plastic and needed emergency surgery. I’ve been beyond frustrated at times with her for being one of the most stubborn dogs I have ever encountered. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. She has traveled to Germany with me several times, showed me that my husband was “The One” and has basically been my sidekick for 9 years now. What would have been different if I had bought a dog from a breeder instead? Nothing, you might say, you would have loved that dog just as much. True, but Gypsy probably wouldn’t be around anymore.
Our other rescues include a mutt of all sorts that was born at a dog rescue and wasn’t adopted since he was not a cute puppy, a Toy Fox Terrier who broke his leg at only 4 months old and a yellow lab that I found wondering in the desert where someone had dumped him (he now enjoys a worry-free life with my in-laws, where he gets spoiled on a daily basis). All of them are wonderful family dogs, none of them have any health issues or show any sign of being aggressive. Rather the opposite, all of them are fiercely loyal family dogs who greet us each day with their big smiles and wagging tails.
As a dog lover, I ask you one favor this month: If you are thinking about getting a dog, please consider adopting one. They come in all sizes, shapes, ages and tempers. No one can guarantee you that the dog you’re buying at a breeder (or worse, at a pet store) will turn out to be a healthy, friendly family dog. There are also numerous rescue organizations around who have spent some time with their rescued animals and can therefore help you choose one that fits your family and lifestyle. For each dog you adopt, another unfortunate one will be able to get another chance too. Please. Give these unlucky animals a second chance at the happy life that they deserve.
write by Boniface