Gimme shelter dogs

by Lorin Michel Monday, October 14, 2013 10:36 PM

October is a great month. It gives rise to falling temperatures. It also ushers in shorter days and longer nights, which is always disconcerting at first but is also a phenomenon that conveys the seasons that will soon set upon us. Halloween happens this month, albeit at the very end. It is also national adopt a shelter dog month and to this dog lover, that’s definitely worth celebrating.

Maguire was a shelter dog. Actually, he was a shelter puppy on his way to being a dog when Kevin and Justin found him one Saturday morning in February. Somewhere between eight and 10 weeks old, he was 10 pounds of fluff and fury. We adopted him from the Agoura Animal Shelter as soon as they would let us, which turned out to be Monday morning at 7:30 am. For the next 15 years he was our baby, our Honey Bear, and eventually our vintage puppy. After he passed away on March 6 of 2012, our hearts were broken and our lives were terribly empty. When there is a dog in the house, as dog lovers can attest, there is a fullness that almost can’t be explained. No matter how small the dog, they fill the space with love and fun and joy and fur. At the end of October, 2012, we adopted Cooper, our seven year old golden retriever mutt of puzzling origin and even more puzzling behavior. He’s a challenge, much more so than Maguire ever was, largely because of his alternatively aggressive and clingy personality. Many of his behavior patterns were formed long before we brought him into our home.

Still. He fills the house with fun and mayhem and mania and fur. He’s ours until the end which hopefully won’t happen for quite some time. When it does, we’ll eventually dry our tears and find another shelter or rescue dog to adopt and bring into our home because saving a dog is tantamount to saving ourselves.

In 1824, a group of 22 animal loving philanthropists in Great Britain organized the first official dog shelter to help rescue stray and unwanted dogs. They called their organization the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or the SPCA. For years they struggled to get the people of England to understand their chosen mission but as there was already such class distinction in England, people chose to concentrate on people. But they persevered and eventually, the SPCA became more popular. In 1840, Queen Victoria granted permission for the society to be renamed the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or the RSPCA. It seems Queen Victoria was a dog lover and at the time, her companion of choice was a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Dash. After Dash passed away, she surrounded herself with Pomeranians and was purported to have as many as 35 at one time.

Henry Bergh founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1866. In 1869, one of the first animal shelters in this country opened its doors in Pennsylvania, and in 1877, the American Humane Society was formed. That was also the year the first anti-cruelty laws were enacted. New York city began offering shelters for dogs and cats in 1894.

There are now upwards of 5,000 – and perhaps as many as 6,000 – shelters across the country and even more rescue groups. More than 9 million dogs and cats enter shelters every year and up to about 4 million are euthanized because there simply isn’t the room. Many shelters have adopted no kill policies, and many animal groups push for spay/neuter awareness in order to help reduce the number of unwanted pets. Adopting from a shelter also helps. In fact, according to AnimalShelter.org, 4 million pets are adopted from shelters each year.

It never occurred to us to not go to a shelter to find a dog, and ultimately we found the best dog (in our humble opinion) that has ever lived in the form of Maguire. When it was time to get another, we also went to a shelter and ultimately found Cooper at a local rescue group. We don’t know his story; we never will. But we adopted him and have given him his forever home.

Shelter dogs and cats just want a home. We’ve been blessed to offer ours to two wonderful dogs who both moved in and took over our lives and our hearts. National Adopt a Shelter Dog month is just another reason for me to love October. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the perfect reason. 

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Comments (1) -

10/15/2013 12:19:29 PM #

Love this blog entry!

khris United States

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