Love, guaranteed: Adopt, don’t shop for furever friends

OCTOBER IS ADOPT-A-SHELTER-DOG MONTH. To find your BFF (best friend furever), contact Mon County Canine Adoption Center at 304-291-7267, Marion County Humane Society at 304-366-5391 or The Preston County Animal Shelter at 304-329-3461 or go to petfinder.com to search adoptable pets in your area.

Two weekends ago, my dog Pops starting having some weird issue with his mouth and had to be taken to the emergency vet.

As the man has some of the worst teeth I’ve ever seen on a doggo — and given that he’s about 9 — I suppose it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that he might develop a problem in there.

But as the doc poked around his gums and started using words like “mass” and “biopsy,” my heart began to sink.

Having had him since February, of course I knew I loved him. I just hadn’t counted on quite how much he’d wheedled his way into our little misfit unit already.

After a second opinion, the outlook doesn’t look nearly so dire, and we’re hoping the surgery he has scheduled next week fixes our old boy right up.

At least until the next ailment his age and/or previously hard life throws at us. Given his limp, the scars all over his face and his questionable breed, it could be anything, really, because we can’t know much about where he was before we got him.

And that’s OK.

I hate the attitude that many people have, this excuse I hear over and over, about why they hesitate to adopt animals from shelters.

“You just never know what you’re going to get.”

They cite health mysteries, potential behavior issues, temperments that might be unpredictable.

All of which are possibilities, yes. They are living, breathing creatures with bodies and hearts and minds, and just like you and me and everyone else, they can become sick, or scared, or have trouble with certain things. As with anything, there are variables.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few absolutes. So for those who need some assurances about what you’re going to get, here goes:

By adopting a shelter dog, you get to be part of the solution, rather than contributing to the problems of vast overpopulation, staggering rates of euthanasia and the horrific reality of puppy mills.

Which, make no mistake, if you buy from backyard breeders, pet stores or places like Craigslist, you absolutely are.

By adopting a shelter dog, you get to save a life. According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs wind up in shelters every year. Many don’t make it out — largely because of misconceptions and misinformation about them.

By adoption a shelter dog, you get be a good example. When your friends and family see how great your newly adopted pet is, they are more likely to visit a shelter themselves and find furever friends of their own.

By adopting a shelter dog, you get to be an advocate. Very few animals wind up in pounds, shelters and rescues through any fault of their own. More often, it’s because of irresponsibility, carelessness, neglect or abuse by people. Adopting a shelter pet not only helps restore hope and trust in that animal, it gives a voice to those who can’t speak up for themselves.

By adopting a shelter pet, you get to be loved. Gratefully. Unconditionally. Wholly and unabashedly. From day one until your last moment together.

Every one of my dogs in adulthood has been adopted, and each one of them has been different.

But there is one thing has always held true.

I have gotten far more from them than they ever asked for or that I could ever give in return.

Guaranteed.

Katie McDowell is a lifestyles writer/copy editor for The Dominion Post. Email her at kmcdowell@dominionpost.com

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