Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Truth About Shelter Dogs

We all know that for the last six months, I have been having a bit of a love affair with my dog.  Like the 'who needs a boyfriend when you have a dog' kind of love affair.  I have taken hundreds of pictures of her just being adorable and spent countless hours having doggie play dates, snuggling on the couch and just being ridiculous.  But what most people don't know is that my dog, Grace, is a rescue pit bull.  She's a mix of something else (probably lab) and I could have her DNA tested to see exactly what she is - but for the most part, she's a pit bull.  If you look at picture of an American Staffordshire Terrier - it's my dog.

Look how cute (and how pissed) she is. Go Seahawks!  We all wear jerseys in this house.
I've had a couple of friends lately who are looking to get dogs and I highly recommend for them to get a shelter dog.  I don't have any problem with purebred dogs that you get as puppies - my parents have always had labs and they are amazing, amazing dogs. But for me personally, I'll all about the shelter dogs.

Here are some things you can expect when you bring home a shelter dog: 
    • They'll jump all over you when you come home - even if you were only gone for 15 minutes.  Dogs have no sense of time, no way to read a clock and they are just so excited that you came back.  Shelter dogs have a reason to be excited - they were most likely left somewhere and their people never came back.  
    • They'll follow you everywhere and be unhappy when left alone.  Probably because they were left alone in their past life most of the time.  
    • They won't take treats in a polite fashion - most likely because no one has ever given them treats before.  If they were especially unlucky - they didn't know when their next meal was coming and it will take a while for them to realize that you'll always feed them.
    • It may take them a little bit of time to trust you - you don't know what their lives were like before.  Be patient.  It will happen.  
    • They will be amazing dogs. Even the 'aggressive' breeds are amazing.  Any dog can be taught to be aggressive but all the pits that I've met are more likely to roll over so you can rub their belly then to growl at you. 
    • They'll take over your life.  And your couch.  And your bed.  And you will probably step on one of their bones when you get up at 4:15am.  
    • They will love you more than anything else in the world.  Not only are you their person, but they know that you rescued them.  And if you are lucky, they will rescue you too.  
And for the people who didn't want my sweet dog or thought that she wasn't good enough or well-behaved enough or whatever.... thank you. She's a pain in the ass.  She eats my shoes.  She's peed and pooped and thrown up on the carpet.  My cats refuse to come out from under the bed when she's around.  But she also sits at my feet when I work.  She sleeps with her head in my lap.  She licks my face when she wants to get up in the morning.  She knows all my deepest, darkest secrets and I know she won't tell.   

Seriously.  Shelter dogs.  They will love you unconditionally because you are their person. And I am by no means saying that other dogs won't - not at all.  But I just look at the animals in the shelter or in rescues and it breaks my heart.  (And yes... there is a good chance that I've been sitting at home all day feeling crappy and watching a marathon on NatGeoWild that included at least one ASPCA commercial every 30 minutes.)

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