Monday, October 10, 2011

Adopt A Shelter Dog Month

October brings changing leaves, cooler temperatures, and decreased daylight. October also brings to my house a touch hof "hibernation syndrome" as both dogs and humans nap more often!
This month is also Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, the time in which animal welfare organizations promote the many wonderful dogs in need of new families. Adopting a shelter or rescue dog not only may save one more canine life, but also brings great satisfaction to the one adding the furry friend to the household. Numerous breed rescues and animal shelters across the country have been inundated the past few years with dog relinquishments as the downturn of the economy affects households across the nation. Yet, despite the numbers of pets let at shelter doors or turned into rescue organizations as abandoned, unwanted, neglected or simply "I can no longer afford to keep my pet" animals, the staff and volunteers with these animal welfare groups continue to persevere, hosting special adoption events and fundraisers in order to continue helping pets in need.

If you've ever considered adopting a dog, this is a great time to do so! Check out or visit your local shelter or rescue organization. Not all animals turned into these groups have behavioral problems; some simply are the result of a family's misfortune, such as a job loss or mortgage foreclosure. A great many furry friends are waiting for the right person or family to discover them and give them the loving, forever home they deserve.

If you cannot adopt a dog right now, there are other things you can do during Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. Volunteer with your local shelter or rescue group: walk dogs, help with fundraising events, or help transport a dog for a rescue group. Maybe you can be a foster parent, keeping a pet for a short amount of time while its waiting for its forever family. Perhaps you can donate products the group needs, such as pet food, cat litter or cleaning supplies. Or, maybe you can donate some funds for an animal's medical expenses. Whatever you can do will certainly be appreciated by the staff and volunteers!

I have had the good fortune to adopt my animals from various groups and to assist organizations as a volunteer. My current two dogs both came from animal shelters, and the dog before them was adopted from a shelter in 1989. What joy all three of these creatures have given me! What a blessing to my life and what a deep sense of satisfaction in keeping these beautiful dogs in my home, knowing they may have been disposed of for various reasons. My dogs have been an integral part of my life, and I am so thankful shelters and rescues are out there helping animals in need!

May each of us do something this month to help dogs during Adopt a Shelter Dog Month!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dogs and People Helping Each Other

Animal welfare groups, including many rescue organizations and animal shelters, celebrate the joys of dogs this month. October is recognized nationally as Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month and provides people the wonderful opportunity of giving a dog a new, loving home. Today, let's look at how dogs and people help one another.

My two special dogs both come from shelters, one from Montana, the other from my community's Humane Society. Both dogs have brought great joy into my life and have taught me many valuable life lessons, such as loyalty, courage, perseverance, and love.

Dogs and people have held a special bond for thousands of years. Dogs have served humankind in many capacities, from protector to bearer of burdens. Native Americans, for example, used dogs to transport loads prior to obtaining the horse. Still today, dogs serve people in a variety of ways: herding and protecting flocks; finding fowl in the field; guiding the blind; assisting deaf and wheel-chair bound individuals; rescuing lost children; and bringing smiles to those in hospital beds.

Here are some special ways dogs help people:

  • Assistance dogs are specially trained to help people manage physical or emotional disabilities. Guide dogs assist the blind, deaf assistance dogs alert people to the telephone or doorbell, and assistance dogs open refrigerators and building doors for people in wheelchairs. Some even detect cancer and epileptic seizures.

  • Search and rescue dogs look for the lost. From hikers and skiers to victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, these hero dogs put their health and life in the balance in the line of duty.

  • Military and police dogs also put their lives on the line. From sniffing for drugs or bombs to patrol duties, these dogs serve our country in the United States and abroad.

  • Visiting hospitals and nursing homes, therapy dogs bring smiles to the faces of ill children and lonely senior citizens.

  • Read-to-the-dog programs are popular in many libraries across the country and help children become better readers.

  • Sporting dogs, including spaniels, retrievers and pointers, help bring home dinner in the form of ducks, pheasants, and grouse.

  • Herding dogs, like the Australian Shepherd and the collie, have the genetic instinct to drive and gather livestock. Some of these dogs, such as Israel’s Canaan dog, have been used for several centuries.

  • A variety of dogs, including the Siberian husky and German shepherd, are part of the working breed, transporting and protecting people.

Dogs help us in many ways, including the simple acts of helping us exercise, lowering our blood pressure, and getting us to laugh and smile more often. So, honor your special pooch for his loyalty and love with an extra ounce of kibble, a special hug, or a play-day outdoors in the field. And, if you’re thinking about adding a dog to your household, October is a great time to do so.
If you can’t have a dog right now, there are still things you can do to celebrate dogs, including showing kindness and compassion to animals in need and supporting your local pet rescue and shelter organizations with donations – there is always need not just for money, but also for supplies and volunteers.

Celebrate dogs however you can during National Adopt-A-Shelter Dog Month!