On National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, remember: Dogs are people too. Well… except that they’re dogs.
We rescued a terrier, although why anyone would is beyond me.
Terriers are what dingos strive to be – wild dogs semi-domesticated because there’s something in it for them. Terriers are the The Joker of the animal kingdom.
Yet my wife and I chose a terrier. We felt obliged to our formerly alive terrier, Oxford, a young thug who matured into a dignified, coldly ruthless mob leader lacking only a fedora and Miami tan. His rule was paternal, loyal but arrogant. He passed away to a kidney ailment although he’d have preferred withering under police machine gun fire in a Chicago alley.
He left behind his muscle, Brisby, a German schnauzer-French poodle mix ever at odds with himself. Now with no one to guide him except a couple of pet owners who just didn’t “get me”, Brisby risked succumbing to a lifestyle of violence, drug addiction and madness.
So we got him another little thug.
Choosing to adopt a homeless dog is not an easy decision, and frankly, Sarah McLachlan isn’t helping. It’s not that I don’t want to rescue an abused animal that’s pretty much just a snout, a collar and half a paw. I just don’t have the emotional strength. I’ve always acquired my dogs from well-established, responsible breeders that I’ve never heard of except afterwards when they appear on the national news.
Going the shelter route was our way of giving back to the community without actually giving anything back. The dogs are bargain priced to move. Our veterinarian offers a steep discount on the initial checkup. Friends and family treat us like heroic characters from a Dickens novel.
And with relatively little effort we located a very social, black and white, cow-eyed terrier, about a year old. We bonded immediately, brought him into our fold, and within weeks he’d hacked our passwords and begun siphoning our accounts. But he was housebroken.
April 30 is National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day – a significant holiday that falls between Hairball Awareness Day and International Turtle Day. Our new terrier, Budleigh, has enriched all facets of our lives, with the exception of footwear. For those considering adopting a shelter dog, here are a few tips to make the transition easier:
1. All shelters name their dogs “Bandit”. No one knows why. It’s ok to change it.
2. Like Congress, not all shelter dogs are housebroken. This is easily managed with a pooper scooper and an educated, informed electorate.
3. There really is a Hairball Awareness Day.
4. Acquaint yourself with the many dog breeds so you know what to expect.
Retrievers, for example, make excellent companions but have become so popular that our nation is rapidly running out of things to retrieve.
5. Ensure an ideal match by carefully evaluating a shelter dog’s behavior when you first meet. Is he wiggly and licky or does he just hand you a business card? The former might be great with children, the latter a potential corporate investor.
Like many first-time adopters, my wife and I feared we’d be overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising a rescue dog. Yet Budleigh has proved no more a challenge than if we’d both pursued medical degrees.
All dogs want is to love their people and fit into the pack. Dog owners just need to commit a bit of time and patience and they’ll be rewarded with a wiggly, licky, devoted little buddy, or at very least a reliable corporate investor.
Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.
Your feedback is welcome, probably.