I got my first dog at 26 years old, a little bundle of chocolate fur, while living in Carabassett Valley, Maine. I was looking for a dog to go hiking with and a breed that was of a moderate temperament. And I found my Kuma at a breeder in Maine. I know, this is an article about shelter dogs, and here I am telling you about my AKC registered Chocolate lab Kuma. Who although he was from a breeder, inspired friends and family to open their hearts and homes to shelter/rescue dogs. And since Kuma’s passing I too am now the proud companion of an amazing shelter dog!
Cocoa, is my parents Chocolate lab. She is from Peppertree Rescue in Albany, NY. They adopted her shortly after meeting Kuma for the first time. We were never a dog family. Growing up I had a hamster, a goldfish and a couple of gerbils. When I told my parents about Kuma my mom’s reaction was “what are you thinking!!! That’s one of the worst decisions you’ve ever made. Don’t even think about bringing it to our house!!” So as a vacation approached I made reservations for Kuma to stay at t local kennel, and I heard, “Don’t waste your money, he can stay in our garage.” Okay, it’s heated, he’s crate trained, and I can spend time with him. So off to NY we went. (Skipping ahead a bit…) The first night, my mom & I are out on the screened porch (with Kuma – you can see how long the house ban was in effect!), and we hear my dad open the bedroom door, and “Here Kuma….” and off Kuma went, up the stairs to sleep on my parent’s bed! Within a month, Cocoa was a member of our family! And yes, we are now officially dog people.
Kuma also turned my friend Doug into a dog person. He adopted a 4 year old male black lab mix, Shiloh from the Eagle County Shelter.
Although they were already dog people, through encouragement they chose to adopt a puppy, rather than look for a breeder. So Blatz, a min-pin chihuahua mix, was adopted by my friends Jillian and Memphis. Kuma and I also made sure that Blatz was neutered when he was old enough, helping find financial assistance through the Eagle County Humane Society, so that his surgery was affordable for Jillian and Memphis.
And Jenks, my wiggly bundle of unconditional love, a 2 year old yellow lab I adopted in May from the Clear Creek County Shelter. Certainly not looking for a replacement of Kuma, who turned into so much more than a hiking buddy, Jenks is quickly working his way into my heart (and he is great to go hiking with too!)
Shelter dogs aren’t in shelters because there is something wrong with them. They are in shelters because they are still looking for their forever home. Some are strays. Some have been removed from abusive or neglectful situations. Some are there because the people who first tried to give them a home didn’t really think through all of the obligations that come with having a dog in your life, or they just didn’t pick a dog whose temperament fit their lifestyle.
So no matter if you seeking a trusted friend? Or an hiking buddy? Or perhaps, more meaning in life? Consider enriching your world with a dog.
Shelters are filled with dogs who want to love and be loved. They are overflowing with dogs that just need someone to notice how wonderful they really are inside. There are big dogs and small dogs, purebreds and mutts. Dogs that love to run and hike, and dogs who really prefer to be carried. There are dogs that are meant to be therapy dogs and search and rescue dogs. And there are dogs who just want a warm place to spend their years giving you tons of love. There are dogs who love to have kids read to them, and there are dogs who shouldn’t live with small children. Basically, if you are looking for a dog, there is the perfect companion waiting for you in a shelter today!!
Only one question remains: Where will you find the perfect canine companion?
Adopting from a local animal shelter or rescue group is your best option. Here’s why:
- You’ll be giving a dog a second chance — or even saving a life.
- An estimated 3.7 million animals are euthanized in animal shelters every year, and you’ll be doing your part to address the tragic problem of pet overpopulation.
- Shelters and rescue groups — including the American Humane Sociey’s featured shelters from across the country — offer a wide variety of purebreds, mixed breeds, and big and little dogs, making it easy to find the perfect dog for you.
What are you waiting for? Companions eligible for adoption can be located through Petfinder.com.
Start searching now for the perfect shelter or rescue dog in your area!