Despite endless dog hair, toys littering my floor and stinky cans of food, adopting a shelter dog is officially the best decision I’ve made in my life this year.
My search in the local shelter ended with a beautiful black lab who has instantly become my close companion.
His shelter story was a short one—someone found him playing in the road and brought him to the Big Rapids Animal Rescue Coalition. They waited two weeks for his potential owner to come get him but no one came or called. It was obvious that he’d been mistreated. He was underweight, his ribs poking out underneath his skin. He also flinched at sudden movements, which is a good indication that he’s been struck by a human before.
After he was done smelling my hands and shoes, he sat down on my feet and looked up at me backwards with his copper eyes as if I were some sort of saint. My heart instantly melted and I thought to myself: “Yep, this is the one.”
I took him home and decided to name him Axel, after a character from one of my favorite video games– Kingdom Hearts. By now, he’s been an irreplaceable joy in my life, among the many stresses of young adulthood.
Axel is extremely mellow. He listens quite well, is house-trained and he doesn’t bark at people or other dogs. He’s a priceless gem, straight from the pound.
The thing about shelter dogs is that yes, a few of them are aggressive. Most of the time, that aggression comes from previous owners who mistreated the animal. But mistreatment doesn’t guarantee aggression–Axel is a prime example of that. An overwhelming amount of shelter dogs are sweet and more friendly than most human beings.
Another issue is that most dog owners buy their pets as puppies, either from a pet store or from a breeder. Puppies are adorable and they also deserve good homes, but you don’t know what their personality is going to be like until they get a little older, just like kids don’t show their true colors until they become old enough to talk in complete sentences. Puppies also require as much attention as a toddler, since it takes a while to housetrain them. Most shelter dogs aren’t pups, but that usually means no potty training and they are out of their chewing phase.
Sadly, a lot of older dogs are in shelters, with more than half of their life behind them already. They need good homes as much as those puppies do. My mother actually ended up adopting a seven-year-old husky mix from the same shelter that I got Axel from, and she is absolutely the sweetest dog I’ve ever met.
I’m proud to say that Axel is a rescue. The truth is that yes, there are good and responsible dog breeders out there, but the problem is that there are too many of them. Not to mention the people who constantly breed dogs, sell the pups off for a profit and then dump the mother off at a shelter when her reproductive organs are worn out from litter after litter. I’ve decided to stop supporting dog breeders and adopt as a life pledge from here on.
So, if you do decide to get a dog, good for you. Head down to your nearest shelter and see what friendly faces they have. Chances are, you’ll find a new best bud just like I did.