OK, we pretty much think any time of the year is a great time to adopt a dog–but October really has a paw up thanks to not one but two special events: Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and Adopt a Dog Month!
Why Are There Two Holidays?
The two month-long observances are led by two different animal welfare organizations.
The ASPCA launched National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month.
American Humane launched Adopt-A-Dog Month® in 1981.
Both of these pet holidays help draw awareness to the millions of adoptable dogs waiting for their forever homes in shelters and rescues everywhere.
Related Pet Holiday: Adopt a Shelter Pet Day
Ralph Lauren Celebrated the Month
His classic creations rule the catwalk, and thanks in part to some stylish shelter Spots Ralph Lauren’s Fall 2013 accessories collection made a commanding presence in “The Dog Walk”– the designer’s digital video which proved that trends may come and go, but compassion is always in fashion.
In celebration of Adopt-A-Dog Month, the style icon became a role model by selecting adorable adoptables from the ASPCA to help show off the brand’s latest luxury items for humans and to model puppy apparel ranging from a dog raincoat to a classic Ralph Lauren polo, made just for pooches.
The couture-conscious canines to ‘put on the dog’ for the video include miniature dachshund Roxy, who stepped into stardom by stepping into a Ralph Lauren Italian leather dog carrier; Coco, a dachshund who cuddles with a model; and Lady, a 9-year-old Pit Bull mix who steals the spotlight in the film’s conclusion.
All of the dogs seen in the video now have forever homes, with Today reporting that Lady has a permanent place in the heart and home of a foster family (and even a Bulldog boyfriend named Duke!) thanks to the ASPCA’s foster/hospice program.
While all of the canines in the video now have starring roles in the lives of pet parents, fashion-loving friends of Fidos helped other pets in need through purchases of merchandise in Ralph Lauren’s Fall 2013 accessories collection, with a percentage of the purchase price of select accessories and tail-wagging attire seen in the film donated to the ASPCA.
Shelter Dogs You May Have Overlooked
Shelters are filled with many dogs and other types of pets who are often overlooked. We’d like to introduce you to several types of dogs you might miss on your next visit to the shelter!
Large Breed Dogs Beyond the Puppy Stage
Both Irie and Tiki are former shelter dogs…
We know very little about their lives previous to landing at the shelters.
We do know one thing, though: both Irie and Tiki are large dogs and that characteristic, by virtue of size alone, gets many dogs overlooked in crowded shelters. (Our newest addition, Barli, was at the shelter for over three months.)
Irie and Tiki were juveniles when we adopted them, grown beyond the cute and cuddly puppy stage when a stay at a shelter can be marked in hours instead of weeks. Irie and Tiki stayed at their respective shelters over a month each.
But size alone isn’t the only factor that gets many great shelter dogs overlooked. If you are considering adopting, please take a few moments to consider these often-overlooked types of pets, each of which has joined our family:
Mixed Breed Dogs
As you know, all of our dogs are mixed breed dogs. They’re mixes of mixes, and we couldn’t be happier about that.
We love the uniqueness of both our dogs, as well as the mystery of their heritage. We really, really wish that more people would be open to mixed breed dogs at the shelter, rather than coming in with a pre-determined idea of which breed they’d like (and often even a particular color).
There’s no shortage of great mixed breed dogs at every shelter!
Dogs with Mange
OK, we all know that none of us is perfect.
Sadly, though, shelter pets with even just “cosmetic” problems are often overlooked at many shelters.
Even worse, they may be destroyed at shelters with limited resources–even though the problem may be one that is completely treatable, such as mange or ringworm.
Whether due to the stress of shelter life or the sometimes unknown life they had before arrival, some shelter dogs and cats are a little less than picture-perfect.
Irie had demodectic mange when we adopted her. Treatment required a few trips to the vet for dips and baths but, with a relaxing home and proper veterinary care, she soon grew a beautiful coat.
Sadly black cats and black dogs are often overlooked in shelters, sometimes due to the fact that there are so many, sometimes because, in the shadow of a crate or kennel, it’s harder to make a connection with the individual when they’re viewed by potential adopters.
Our black dog Barli would like to remind you to be sure to take the time to peer back in that kennel…a real gem might be waiting for your!
Related pet holiday: National Black Dog Day
Our regular readers know that Irie is a shy dog. When we first adopted her, I’d describe her more as fearful but, with years of training and love, she’s now just simply shy, watching for Tiki’s reaction to new situations before approaching a strange person or pet.
Unfortunately, many shy pets are overlooked in shelters.
Unlike Tiki (who refused to be overlooked at the shelter even though we were there to see the puppies in the next kennel!), shy dogs like Irie often don’t try to interact with potential adopters when they walk by their kennel…and so people keep on walking.
In the right home setting, shy pets can blossom, though, and, like our Irie, enjoy family activities and outings like more outgoing dogs.
Gently Encouraging the Pet Adoption Option
We love writing about rescue and adoption. With two rescue dogs and three rescue cats, we like to feel that we don’t just talk the talk but we walk the (dog) walk not just during Adopt a Shelter Pet Month but year around.
But when it shifts from writing about rescue and adoption to talking about homeless animals, we know we sometimes have to take a deep breath. As passionate as we are about the topic, we don’t want to overwhelm people with our enthusiasm.
We want people to feel free to mention to us that they’re looking to obtain a new pet—regardless of the means—without feeling like they’re going to be on the receiving end of a lecture about the state of homeless animals.
We know you’ve probably seen exchanges online, whether on forums or Facebook, when someone mentions that they’re looking for a particular breed of dog or cat and asking for recommendations about breeders. Or they mention that they’ll be heading to a pet store to look for a certain type of pet.
The exchanges can be brutal. Loving rescuers, cognizant of the fate that awaits millions of dogs and cats in shelters across the country, can suddenly bare teeth and extend claws at those potential pet parents that plan to take a route other than adoption. We’ve all see it happen, often out of frustration with a system where no-kill is still a dream in so many locations.
Recently we had a discussion with a friend who told us he was looking for a Miniature Poodle for his daughter. After months and months of asking for a dog, she’d reached an age and level of maturity where the family thought a dog was a smart move.
They’d wisely researched breeds and behaviors and weighed them against their lifestyle and schedule. They’d made so many good decisions…but then he announced that they’d seen a Miniature Poodle at an area pet store (not an adoption event as fortunately so many now offer) but as a product for sale.
It was a tricky situation. What should we say? Should we launch in with an explanation of the horrors of puppy mills that this pet store was, in all likelihood, perpetuating? Should we point out that 60 percent of dogs in shelters are euthanized and they could just as easily save one lucky dog instead of purchasing this pet?
We took a deep breath. We praised his research and all the care and research that he’d put into the decision. How wonderful it would be if all families took the time to research pets and honestly looked at their home and life to determine if a pet was a good choice!
Then we asked if he knew about the Poodle rescues in his area? Ones that could provide his family with a Poodle just like he wanted but with the added benefit of a foster family’s information about that individual dog’s temperament and personality?
Our friend had no idea there were Poodle rescues and loved the idea; soon we were sending him links and the family was happily poring over adoption listings. They’ve now put in an adoption application and are going to visit a potential Poodle in the coming week.
We’re so happy with how this exchange went. We like to think that, just like in our dog training, positive reinforcement of this potential pet parent won out over a harsher discussion.
How have you handled the topic of pet adoption when you’ve been talking with someone who is considering purchasing a pet?