This is the story of a Chihuahua named Stu. Someone found him on the streets and brought him to the animal shelter, then a week later I adopted him. It’s a short story, but the interesting part is what happens next. Once Stu recovered from the trauma of the shelter (plus his neutering operation and a bad case of kennel cough), his adorable little personality began to show. I discovered that he is a vegetarian–his favorite foods are broccoli, mangoes, carrots, lettuce, berries, bananas, and peas. I’d take Stu to the park to walk, and discovered that–unlike most Chihuahuas–he loves children and other dogs. In fact, he just about loves everyone (except my dad for some reason…). The most remarkable thing I noticed is how grateful he is for being rescued. He is the most affectionate dog I’ve ever met, and I’m convinced he somehow knows how lucky he is.
Needless to say, Stu has captured everyone’s heart who has met him. If people gave shelter pets a chance, they would never regret it. But we make excuses to avoid the animal shelter. “I want a purebred” or “I want a designer breed” or “It’s too sad to go to the shelter, so I’m just going to buy from a breeder.”
If you’ve ever said these statements, please excuse the following rant directed at you:
First of all, there are tons of purebred dogs at the shelter. If you want a specific breed, get out your smartphone and look up rescue organizations specific to that breed. For example, I have a thing for collies so I follow collierescuefoundation.org to see when a collie ends up in a shelter near me. It may take a while to find the breed you love, but patience is a virtue worth exercising.
Second of all: do you know what I call a dog that is a cross between two or more different breeds? A mixed breed. A mutt. But “mutt” isn’t politically correct anymore, so someone got the bright idea to call them “designer breeds” and charge a lot of money for them. You paid $1500 for your labradoodle? Well I can get the same thing at the animal shelter for a $50 adoption fee. I want to share some names of recognized “designer breeds”: Bullypoo, Crustie, Dorkie, Ewokian, Italian greyhuahua, and (my personal favorite) Cocker Jack. If you want a mixed breed, save your money and just go to the animal shelter. There are plenty of them there. (Here’s the website with the full list of names: http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/hybriddogs.htm)
And lastly, to everyone who says “It’s too sad to go to the shelter, so I get my dogs from breeders”: It’s true you can’t save them all. And I agree it’s sad. I’m sorry if it’s inconvenient for you to feel a little sadness, but if you can save one life doesn’t that make it worth it? Furthermore, when you buy a dog from a pet shop or a breeder, you’re only prolonging the problem. As long as you keep breeders in business, they will continue to sell dogs to families that otherwise might have gone to the shelter. If everyone rescued their pets, the shelters wouldn’t be so crowded in the first place.
I’m not saying that dogs from breeders make bad pets, or that people who breed dogs are bad people. I just want to encourage you to consider making the animal shelter your first stop when you decide to make that special addition to your family. You’ll never regret saving a life.