Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Adopt a Shelter Dog

I never adopted a dog from a shelter before, but I've supported shelters and
rescues for about a decade or more, and have even volunteered for a few.

This year was special, for we adopted TWO shelter (rescue) pups! They are
brothers from the same litter, but we didn't get them at the same time.

About a year ago, we lost our beloved Hector, a hound-dog extraordinaire. He had a brain tumor and died very suddenly on the evening of Hurricane Irene, we think he had an aneurysm (and his death didn't have anything to do directly with the hurricane). We spent six days without electricity, mourning his death. It was awful. We have still not gotten over this huge loss.

It never would have occurred to me that we would adopt a puppy (a puppy!) so soon, but in January, 2012, I saw a cute little puppy posted on Facebook on
the page of a rescue called Great Dog Rescue of New England. This wonderful
organization brings dogs up to New England from southern states where "high-kill" shelters are prevalent. This particular puppy, Charlie Brown, was the last remaining puppy in a litter of eight who were found in an abandoned house in Tennessee with their mama, brought to a high-kill shelter, and rescued by Great Dog Rescue of New England.. The others, and their mother, had been adopted out, but Charlie Brown remained. The picture was so cute, we knew we just had to check him out. But alas, we were too late... the rescue required that we fill out an application and by the time we got around to it they told us "someone is ahead of you." We asked about any of the other pups from the same litter, and we were told they were all spoken for. I asked the adoption coordinator to contact me if anything changed.

Ten days went by, and, having heard nothing, I decided to send the adoption
coordinator a quick email just asking if Charlie Brown had gone to his forever home. She wrote back all excited saying her computer had been broken for several days and her first task on her list when the computer came back was to contact me to tell me the adoption had fallen through, Charlie Brown was ours if we still wanted him! I drove from our home in central Massachusetts to the New Hampshire border and picked up Charlie on January 30th.

The next few months were daunting. I had forgotten what it was like to have a young puppy. Hobie, our 12-year-old "best dog in the world" was a good uncle and baby sitter, though! And having the puppy around brought him out of his depression over losing his best friend, Hector.

Remarkably, six months went by, and I received an email from the woman who had fostered the pups when they came from Tennessee. She sent this email to all of the other adopters, announcing that one of the puppies was being returned to
rescue, and did anyone want a brother for their other pup? At first I replied saying I am interested but "I would be crazy". But the more the story went on, the deeper I got embroiled in it, until the obvious choice was for us to adopt Charlie Brown's brother, Cooper, the so-called runt of the litter.

Cooper's original adopters weren't able to care for him financially, after he had
sustained a terrible injury to his right front leg (we do not know how this happened, but were told it was an accident). The injury was left untreated for too long, and had become inoperable -- the only option? amputation of the leg. Cooper went back to live with the foster mom until he recovered from surgery, and we adopted him on August 23rd, almost exactly a year after Hector died.

We should all take lessons from this remarkable creature, because he has not
let having only three legs slow him down whatsoever. As I write this, he and Charlie are racing around the house playing with toys, jumping on furniture (oops!) and causing a ruckus as only two 10-month-old, male puppies can do!

I feel that we adopted two "less adoptable" shelter pets. Charlie Brown was
evidently seen to be too feisty by all of the other families who looked at the puppies.

Despite his dashing good looks, he was overlooked by everyone and became the
last remaining puppy of the litter. He was looked upon as "the pack leader" and whilehe has a very strong personality he is very well-behaved and goes to dog events with me, meeting hundreds of other dogs, with no problems at all. Cooper was "less adoptable" for obvious reasons: he had medical issues and only has three legs. It takes a certain thick skin to repeat, again and again, the story of why he only has three legs. People don't understand that he's perfectly fine. They feel sorry. They shouldn't. He needs special help occasionally on stairways and while riding in the car. He and the arthritic Hobie are a perfect match, but Cooper also gives Charlie Brown a run for his money, and can often run after the ball faster than Charlie. Cooper can go up a flight of stairs faster than anyone else. So, "less adoptable"? It depends on who you're asking. I wouldn't change this experience for anything in the world.

That's my experience with adopting a shelter dog (or two). Adopt a shelter dog
during Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, or any other time. You will not be disappointed!

About the Author: K.S. Mueller is a travel executive living in Massachusetts who writes essays about dogs, cats and other topics in her spare time. Check out her web sites:;; and Follow K.S.Mueller on Facebook and Twitter.

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