I have always been a believer in the phrase “adopt, don’t shop”. Not only can the animal breeding industry be a cruel and terrible industry, but there are millions of animals in shelters across the nation, desperate to find their forever family. Each year, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States, simply because too many pets come into shelters and too few people consider adoption when looking for a pet. The number of euthanized animals could be reduced drastically if more people adopted pets rather than buying them. When you adopt, you save a loving animal by making them part of your family and open up shelter space for another animal who might desperately need it.
Growing up, my family always had dogs in the house. Long before I was born, my parents had a large yellow lab, and I think that being around him at such a young age made me come to love dogs, as well as all animals. The family dog was as much a part of daily life within my home as any human household member. Our dogs are always there for us, day and night, sharing in every activity from meals, to an evening spent watching TV.
But unfortunately, at the ripe age of twelve years old, my dog passed away. I soon began to miss the feeling of having a pet. We had another dog at the time, but she was my mothers dog, and she didn’t like me very much. It's different having your own dog; the bond is much stronger. I missed the companionship of having a pet of my own.
For years and years I begged my parents to let me get another dog, and the answer was always the same: no. I knew that i wanted to adopt a dog rather than buy one, so i could give an animal in need a loving home. I would check my local animal shelters facebook every week, scanning through countless photos of sad puppy-dog eyes, begging to get adopted.
In the summer of 2014, my mom surprised me by telling me she was taking me to the animal shelter. She then proceeded to tell me to not get too excited, and that we probably weren’t going to get a dog that day. But I had my mind set otherwise.
When we arrived to the shelter, I stepped out of the car and into the kennel. Immediately, my ears were filled with the loud barks and cries of many excited dogs. We walked up and down the aisles of the shelter, each dog we passed jumping up to greet us, in search of the dog that we wanted.
Sitting in the last cage in the kennel, were two small puppies. They were both black, and looked to be labs. While they looked fairly different, there were some noticeable differences between the two. The bigger one was almost solid black, except for a small white stripe beginning on her nose, leading to her forehead. She was the most lab-looking of the two, and honestly, she was probably much cuter. The other one however, was much more strange looking. She had much more white on her fur, having the markings similar to that of a border collie. She had odd proportions, her head was small for her body, and her legs and feet were very big for her small frame. Both were huddled in the corner of their cage, probably scared due to not having much exposure to humans. To get a better view of their personalities, we were able to take them outside to a fenced area to play with them.
Once we were outside, we set the dogs down on the grass, and instantly their personalities began to shine. The cuter dog was still cowering, hiding underneath the park bench they had placed outside. The other dog, however, completely came to life. She was furiously sprinting around the yard, stopping only to jump into my lap to and lick my face. I knew which dog I wanted.
Walking back inside the shelter, the dog that I wanted gently laid her head on my shoulder, and i fell even more in love. After a long debate with my mother (who wanted the cuter dog) we finally signed the papers to get my dog. On the way back home I started to think of possible names for my new dog. After thinking for a while, I finally decided on the name Lucy. I brought Lucy inside and let her get a feel for her new home. Over these past 4 years, I have developed a bond with her that i’ve had with a pet before.
I think that adopting her only contributed to her loving personality; a dog that has been abandoned is usually eager to become part of a loving pack and will bond with a new family as soon as they feel safe and secure, which she felt from day one. Looking back on this experience, I am so glad that I chose to adopt a pet from a shelter, rather than buy one from a breeder. I had the chance to take a helpless animal out of an unfortunate circumstance, and out of it I gained a new best friend.