Today in the United States is National Adopt a Shelter Pet day. A little over a year ago, I lost my best friend who came from the Denver Animal Shelter. When I decided to get a dog back in 2009, there was never any question that it would come from a shelter.
I would never buy a dog from a breeder. If you spend any time watching rescue videos on The Dodo or Geobeats, it becomes impossible to consider pouring your resources and love into a breeder dog when there are so many animals out there that have been mistreated and deserve a good home. Just look at Walter. And Lexie. And Bubbins. And tens of thousands of other defenseless animals. Oh, and all the mother dogs that are neglected while breeding and then get dumped in shelters or even in the middle of nowhere when the breeders don’t need them anymore.
Furthermore, genetic diversity is important for good health. We know this and that’s why it’s illegal to marry your siblings or first cousins, but for some reason we encourage shrinking the gene pool in our pets. Genetically modifying dogs for desirable traits means that many dogs have been bred to the point of animal abuse. Breeders are responsible for dogs that can’t breathe correctly, like shih tzus and pugs and bulldogs. Breeders have also created dogs that can’t give birth naturally, like the French Bulldog, and dogs like the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, whose skulls are too small for their brains, causing them massive pain. Norway, the world leader in all things morally correct, has recently banned breeding of both English bulldogs and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, and Australia may soon follow suit.
But there’s no need to wait for the government to act. People could just stop buying dogs from breeders. Here is a good article on what it’s like for the workers who have to euthanize the millions of strays and abandoned pets who can’t find homes in the US every year. Remember, this is someone’s horrible, horrible job when you buy from a breeder instead of adopting.
Yes, shelter pets might come with a little “damage.” They need time to adjust, but so do people when they’ve gone through trauma and been shuffled around and are thrown into a new situation. Patience is key and the payoff is worthwhile. Even the most broken dogs can recover.
Though I’ll never know exactly what happened to him, Trotsky Bear had it rough before he came into my life. He was about 15 pounds underweight and a total mess when the city picked him up – matted fur, caked in dirt, covered in burrs. He was terrified of the smell of cigarettes and alcohol; for the first year that I had him, he would bare his teeth and growl at people who came near him with those. It took years for him to become a cuddler, and even then, always on his terms and for a limited amount of time. He was always a bit standoffish, but I get that. I am too.
He also was the most epic hiking buddy, summitting many of Colorado’s highest peaks with me. He read my moods and was always down for whatever I was down for – whether it was camping and hiking all weekend or staying in bed reading all weekend. He was protective and watched out for me until he was too old and we had to switch roles, which broke my heart but I would have taken care of him forever. I can’t imagine having missed out on the eleven plus years of joy he brought me. From the second I saw him in the kennel, staring at me, hoping, and when I took him into the play area where he just leaned into me with his whole body, needing me to take him out of there, we were bonded. It’s unspeakably sad to think of someone having put him down.
Trotsky was definitely a one-dog-household kind of dog, so I couldn’t adopt more when he was alive, but I’ve supported these two rescues for several years now:
Although Mr. Trotz is gone now, I’m not in a position (yet) to adopt another dog. So, the money I used to spend on his food and care goes to support these additional animal rescue and rehabilitation organizations. There’s a lot of people doing good work out there for animals that have been damaged by humans or otherwise need assistance. If you also cannot adopt an animal right now but are looking to help out, please consider a one-time or monthly recurring donation to any of these.
- Dog Rescue Shelter (Serbia)
- Three Rivers Avian Center (West Virginia)
- The Oasis Sanctuary (Arizona)
- Skydog Ranch Wild Horse Sanctuary (Oregon)
- Friends of Philip Fish Sanctuary (Nevada, still working on becoming a registered non-profit)
Someday I’ll be ready to bring another wonderful, scrappy, fluff nugget into my life, but no dog will ever replace old man Trotz. Here’s some of my favorite pics of him in his sleepy, grumpy, but most cuddly old age back in spring/summer 2020.