This post is on a subject very near to my heart, so I hope I do it justice. I have to thank my friend Hannah for inspiring me to write this after a conversation about how few people know they have options for adopting beyond the animal shelter or pound.
I want to add a disclaimer that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with genuinely good breeders who are selective in their work. They usually only breed a litter or two a year and know what they’re doing in terms of not incorrectly selecting for what they think is just a “pretty coat” but leads to devastating results for the animal (in Australian Shepherds, deafness and blindness often occur in case of such breeding.) I do, however, think that there is so much overpopulation out there and so many animals that need homes that adoption should be the first place one looks when finding an animal.
In my case, I was never sure that I wanted a dog. When I played with other peoples’ dogs, I liked them but I had a limit. I thought these dogs were really cute, but there was always something about them that I just could not have dealt with 24/7. I hate dog slobber and drool, and the Goldens and Retrievers I met were far too high energy for me. We wanted a dog who would go on runs with us, but curl up with us at home.
About three years ago, I met a friend’s Border Collie. I absolutely adored her. She was smart, loved attention but was quiet, and loved to run even in her old age. We fell in love with Border Collies and their close relatives, Australian Shepherds. They were exactly what we wanted in a canine partner, but we had no idea how to find one to adopt when the shelters here all have such crazy turnover.
That’s when we turned to Petfinder. I just love Petfinder! It’s utilized by many rescues and shelters, and it usually includes detailed descriptions of the animals. In our case, this was really helpful, because some herding dogs have an, er, tendency to go after cats. I know my cat is feisty, but I didn’t want her being eaten or anything. So we just skated right on by any dog with the “no cats” note.
Through one of the listings on Petfinder, we found the Australian Shepherd rescue we’d eventually adopt from. (We fostered first!) There was a bit of a process to be approved first. When I applied, we still lived in our old apartment that didn’t allow dogs. Actually, I applied the day we signed the lease for this place, because I was so darn excited. It felt a little like applying for a job or college all over again – I filled out a long application with all sorts of questions, added references, and then waited. And harassed them a little bit, because after a few weeks I got really impatient.
We passed the initial application/reference test, and just had to do a home visit. We did that the week before we moved in (can I just say that our landlord and the previous tenants were awesome? They had a cute little puppy, too!) and the volunteer that came out to check us out was really nice. We chatted about rescues, and how before they did home visits, they found out one of their dogs had been adopted by a hoarder. As someone whose cat was saved from a house with 300 other cats, animals hoarders are absolutely awful in my book. And I will definitely never complain about the rescue application process!
The day after we moved into this apartment, one of the wonderful rescue volunteers brought over Sunday to make sure we clicked. The poor girl was so shy that day, and so scared, that she alternated between wanting attention and hiding in the corner. But this sweet face won us over immediately:
I couldn’t ask for a better dog. She is so loyal and loving. She’s still shy around strangers, but lots of walks and socializing has really helped. Okay, I think the fact that people in pet stores and all the dog loving stores around here (chains, too, check it out – holla to Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, and Gap!) give her treats helps.
The way that Sunday’s rescue in particular works is that they accept Aussies and Aussie mixes from owners who have to give them up, and they go around to local high-kill shelters and adopt any at-risk dogs with Aussie breeding out. The dogs are then evaluated and placed in foster care since they have no shelter building. Almost everything is done on a volunteer basis, by people who are just in it to save dogs. What breaks my heart day after day is looking in those big brown eyes and knowing that someone could have taken advantage of such a wonderful dog. It makes me want to go after whoever would hit such a sensitive, kind dog.
Luckily Sunday (and our other rescue, my cat Holly) both seem to know that they’re in a better situation now They’re so grateful and loving. I couldn’t imagine life without my beloved animals, and I am so thankful that rescues like ARPH exist.
If you’re looking for an animal anytime soon, I highly recommend checking out Petfinder or your local rescue/shelter. There are plenty of lovely animals from other sources, but there are also so many sweet animals who currently have no home and really need that love. And trust me, they will love you for it.