I’m not going to say I love animals more than people, but it’s awfully close. Just ask my husband.
Any time I’m stressed or bored, I curl up in a corner to watch funny animal videos online. And, any time we visit a friend’s home, I’m the weirdo sitting in the corner petting the family dog.
So, when my dog Pablo passed away last summer, it didn’t take long for me to start craving canine companionship. After a few weeks, I wanted a new dog so bad!
On the flip side, I also felt bad adopting one since we travel so much. Pablo was totally fine with our travel schedule and more than happy to shack up with my mom for a week at a time, but would a new dog be so flexible? We weren’t sure.
So, we waited…and waited….and waited.
Then, last November, something life-changing happened. We went to Greece – a country with so many homeless cats and dogs it broke my heart. After returning home from Greece, we decided we wanted to adopt a homeless dog for sure.
We do travel a lot, but we figured any dog would be happier with occasional visits to a dog hotel vs. living in a shelter, or worse, being euthanized.
So, we began our search for the perfect dog….starting with a few local animal shelters.
Adopt, Don’t Shop
While most people want a squiggly little puppy, I was determined to adopt a dog who was slightly older and (hopefully) calmer. After all, I work at home and don’t necessarily want to deal with puppy drama all day long. More than anything else, we wanted a dog who would lay around most of the day.
After talking it over with Greg, we decided to look for a dog who was at least two-years old and less than 50 pounds. Neither one of us have lived with a large indoor dog before, so we wanted to stay away from the big breeds. And even though we didn’t want a puppy, we wanted a younger dog with plenty of life left. Two years old or older seemed like a good compromise.
Of course, all of that went out the window when we walked into the Animal Protection League in Anderson, Indiana. Huddled against the front of her cage sat an 80-pound pit bull mix named “Precious.” She locked eyes with me and, in an instant, it was over.
She wasn’t what we wanted at all, being a big fatty and almost six-years-old. But, like I said, it was over. I loved her right away, and none of that mattered to me.
Greg, on the other hand, had a few issues. Not only was she larger than we agreed on, but he was a little nervous about the fact she was a pit bull. He wondered what her life had been like before she wound up in the shelter.
Was she a happy dog? Was she ever mistreated? Would she be gentle with the kids?
Even when you love animals like we do, it’s easy to assume the worst about a dog you don’t know.
Fortunately, we worked past those issues over the next few weeks, and I eventually convinced Greg she was the one. After going to visit her at the shelter a few more times, we took the plunge to “foster to adopt.” That way, they knew we wanted to adopt her but we also had a “way out” if she wasn’t a good fit.
Here’s a picture of us getting ready to bring our used dog, formerly known as Precious, home:
Why I’m So Glad We Got a “Used” Dog
Shortly after we adopted our dog, we changed her name to Madge. Now that we’ve had her for six months, I can honestly say I believe our union was meant to be. She may be almost six-years-old now, but she has plenty of life and love left to give. And really, she has been nothing short of perfect.
Here’s why I’m so glad we got a “used” dog:
#1: She is calm and relaxed.
Most people would assume a six-year-old surrendered pit bull has behavior problems, but that’s not fair at all. Madge was surrendered because her previous owner lost his home. Since he had nowhere to live, he gave her up. She did absolutely nothing wrong to lose her home, and she has no behavior problems at all.
She is easily the most relaxed dog I have ever been around. She is great with the kids, not protective over her food, and incredibly patient. When we forget to feed her or she’s simply ready to eat, she will sit and stare at her bowl for hours! She never makes demands, and she is always polite.
I’m so glad I never assumed something was wrong with her because she was older and living in the shelter. Many times, dogs go to the shelter through no fault of their own.
#2: She was already house-trained and used to living indoors.
Here’s another perk you can get with a “used” dog. Once we brought Madge home, we were delighted to find out she was completely house-trained. She waits patiently at the door when she needs to go outside, and she’ll hold it forever. She never chews on our shoes or destroys anything. Part of this is because she’s older (and calmer), but it helps she was somebody’s pet in the past.
Related: My Dog Pablo, The Freeloading Genius
#3: She is L-A-Z-Y.
I wanted a lazy dog, and boy, I sure got one. I always joke with Greg that, if our house were on fire, Madge would sit there and watch it burn. Since we work at home, having a lazy dog who hardly moves is ideal. She loves sleeping and laying by the front door in the sun!
#4: She tries so hard to make us happy.
One thing I’ve really noticed with Madge is that she tries to hard to please us. It’s almost as if she knows she was abandoned before and wants to make sure it never happens again. She listens carefully to what we ask of her, trying hard to hear cues she can understand. We told her we didn’t want her to go upstairs a few different times, and now she won’t even go near them!
Having an older dog really helps when you have kids. Where a puppy might jump on the kids or bite their hands when they play, older dogs mostly just lay there and let you pet them. Madge has been absolutely awesome with the kids. Most of the time, she seems happy to lay in the yard and watch them play. And yes, my kids absolutely love her!
#6: We saved a life.
Puppies (especially pure breeds) are the cutest thing on Earth! I get the allure, and I totally understand how some people get sucked into actually “buying” a pet. The thing is, I still believe it’s wrong. Why would you buy a pet when millions of homeless pets are euthanized every year?
But, the problem runs deeper than that. Why? When you buy a pet, you perpetuate the problem. Buying pets encourages people to keep breeding them to make more and more money.
You can stop the cycle by refusing to pay for pets and adopting instead. Adopt, and don’t shop! You have the power to save a life, and trust me, there is no better feeling in the world. It’s even better than puppy kisses!
The Bottom Line
If you’re thinking about getting a new pet, please consider adopting an older dog (or cat) from your local shelter. You may not get an adorable pure-bred puppy, but you will get a friend for life! And really, I think older dogs are the best. They are calmer and provide better companionship than you’ll get with a puppy anyway.
Madge is one-of-a-kind, but there’s a Madge out there for everyone. If you want a dog who will love you for life, get out there and find them.
Do you have a used dog? Why are you glad you adopted a pet vs. buying one?