There is no doubt that fur babies add richness and purpose to our lives. As an avid animal lover with a big, squishy soft spot for furry companions (Ahem, 3 cats and 1 dog), I am a huge advocate of pet adoption. Outside of the obvious considerations such as lifestyle, personality, and breed characteristics, there are some not-so-obvious traits to consider. Unfortunately, pets with these traits are passed over and are the first to be euthanized. When choosing a new furry friend, approach the process with an open mind and open heart, you’ll be glad you did.
Black pets are often overlooked at shelters and rescues and are among the first to be euthanized. It is weird to me that black pets would have such a stigma. This stigma is partly due to superstitions and negative portrayals in movies and literature. Based on anecdotal evidence, there is also some belief that black pets do not photograph well, which may attribute to why they are ignored and passed over for more colorful animals. Thanks to people like Fred Levy and his Black Dog Project, more attention is finally being paid to black pets and their adoptability. Levy photographs black dogs against a dark background to showcase the difficulties black pets encounter when awaiting adoption in shelters.
I can firmly attest, black dogs are anything but evil or boring.
As I sat in a large living room awaiting the moment I would get to meet 9 puppies, I thought about how cool it would be to have a furry BFF. You see, someone my mom worked with had a litter of German Shepherd-Black Lab mix puppies and I had begged my parents for years to get a dog. The universe must have had finally smiled down upon me because they finally caved. After a few minutes, the puppies ran into the room and started romping and playing, you know, just being their adorable selves. I had my eye on a particular black and tan puppy and as I watched him play, a quiet, sweet, pure black puppy crawled into my lap, gave me a big yawn and fell asleep. As I felt the warm little body nestled into my legs, I just knew that she had picked me. She was my Jasmine. It was love at first sight and from that day forward she was the most amazing creature I knew. She was a fierce protecter, a comedian, and loyal companion and I am a better person for having her in my life. The biggest lesson she taught me was: We don’t choose our furry companions, they choose us.
Unfortunately, due to the economic melt down of the past decade, many families found themselves downsizing and many older family companions found themselves in rescues and shelters across the country, where they found themselves passed over for their younger counterparts. What most people don’t know is that there are pros to adopting an adult pet.
-They are often already trained in a least the basic commands and are past that puppy/kitten search and destroy phase.
-Most likely, they are already neutered and up-to-date on their shots.
-If you are interested in a purebred pet, you can be sure to find one among the adult population.
You can teach an old dog new tricks.
I purposely uprooted my life and relocated to Arizona in July of 2010. Jasmine had passed away right before I began this new journey, and my husband wanted to help me overcome my grief. I appreciated that he wanted to help but I explained to him that I just wasn’t ready for another dog. True to his spontaneous nature, he decided to surprise me anyway. One day, I came home from work and he greeted me in the parking lot of my apartment building with a new furry friend. He had found a black and tan, German Shepherd mix. My husband explained that his previous owner just couldn’t keep him anymore and that if nobody took him in the next week he was going to take him to a shelter. In order to keep him from a shelter, my husband picked him up without hesitation. What we stumbled on was an extremely anxious, well-trained, 2-year-old dog with a heart of gold. It took some time to adjust, but Boodie has grown to trust us and our love for him as grown in return. Even though thoughts of Jasmine still make me tear up, I am grateful for Boodie’s presence and his gentle demeanor has taught me about understanding and patience.
It takes someone with a large heart to adopt a pet with a disability or medical condition, but these guys need a warm and loving home too. There are many animals out there that need special care and if you have the patience and time to commit, I highly recommend considering a special needs pet. Special needs pets include:
-Pets with disabilities- such as missing limbs and genetic disorders.
-Behavorial issues-such as anxiety and socialization
-Pets with chronic medical issues- such as thyroid, diabetes, FIV
Many times these guys get overlooked because they’re so different. Many special needs pets develop the ability to lead normal healthy lives within their limitations and have so much to offer to the right adoptive parent.
I once knew a wobbly cat.
A few years ago, as a favor to a friend, I fostered a cat with Cerebellar Hypoplaysia, a nervous system disorder that affects kittens when they are in the womb. It is a genetic disorder that affects their motor skills and makes them look like drunken sailors when they walk. I aptly named her Mrs. Wobbles. She was a funny and extremely loving cat that always wanted to play and cuddle. Since she had a moderate case, she didn’t need much special care outside of making sure her litter box had higher walls. Since I was already at my cat quota (just shy of crazy cat lady), I couldn’t keep her; but I found her an amazing family that loved her as much as I did in all of her wobbly goodness.
My life has been touched by these “misfit” pets and I know yours will be too. If you are interested in adopting a “less adoptable pet,” here are some good resources to help you learn more about them:
Also by Krystle: Can Animals Really Feel Emotion?
Photo: Krystle Troia-Alvarado