No matter where you live, the turning of the season means three things: pumpkin-everything, grownups in questionable Halloween getups, and prime walking weather. Given the last, perhaps it's no coincidence then that October is also Dog Adoption Month.
According to the ASPCA, between 5 and 7 million dogs and cats enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Many of them are never adopted. So many dogs missing out on the joy and happiness a family can bring. And sadly, families missing out on the richness that comes with having a dog in the home.
Four years ago my husband and I were thinking about starting a family, and a dog seemed a good place to start. We loved our lazy Sundays and knew what kind of dog we wanted: small, calm and easy to care for. There were plenty of adorable small breeds up for adoption on PetFinder.com, but the moment we saw our black-and-white fuzz ball we were smitten. A couple of weeks later he was ours—small, cuddly and oh-so-cute with his mischievous eyes and speckled markings.
Did I mention the mischievous eyes? Soon this little guy was tearing around the house and stealing our shoes. I wish I had picture of my husband's face the time Linus nabbed a pile of expensive steaks from the kitchen counter. Thank goodness for pizza delivery.
Did I say "lazy Sundays"? Turns out Linus is part border collie, which means this dog likes to run. And walk. And run. A lot. So long, couch potatoes. But my husband's lost the spare tire and I've got more energy than I ever gained by sleeping till noon. Hooray exercise!
Linus grew up to be at least twice as big as the pooch we'd envisioned, but we love every inch of him. Two kids later, he’s a member of our family and an important source of toddler entertainment. So, even if our lazy Sundays are long gone, they’ve been replaced with something much better: morning walks, backyard romps, and endless chases around the dining room table by our tireless two-year-old.
Tempted? Check out ASPCA.org for information about dog adoption. And even if you’re not quite ready to make the leap, there are other ways you can support National Dog Adoption Month. Companies like Harry Barker sell great gifts for pet owners, including all-natural dog treats, dog beds, toys and gift buckets. And best of all, part of the proceeds from select items go to a program that trains dogs for service to disabled veterans. How cool is that?
There is no greater reward than saving a life, and by adopting a dog or other pet from a shelter you're doing just that. For more information, contact your local animal control, Humane Society office, or dog adoption services like AdoptAPet.com or PetFinder.com. You may even have private, non-profit animal centers like Helen Woodward is here in San Diego.
Have you ever adopted a pet or do you know someone who has? What kind of heartwarming stories have you heard about rescued pets?