October is Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog month. It is a great time to bring a new pet into your household, providing you have done your homework and are committed to making the new dog part of your family.
I brought a new dog home last week. She had been seen wandering the neighborhood for several days and I told the neighbors to call me when they saw her. As I was totally enjoying my home-cooked roasted chicken dinner with all the trimmings, the call came. I grabbed half a potato and was on my way. As I approached her, she looked hesitatingly at me so I offered her a chunk of my potato. She gobbled it up and begged for more. I brought her home and immediately decided she was the sweetest, most loving dog ever and would be a great addition to a good home (definitely not mine since mine is full).
After she is spayed and vaccinated this week, she'll be available for adoption.
Since the stray has been living with me, she's taught me a thing or two. She is still a puppy: a lab-hound mix. During her first few days with me, she would cry pitifully if she could not see me or be near me. But as she becomes more comfortable, I am noticing habits that could her difficult to adopt.
She must have been left alone or abandoned, and she doesn't want that happening to her again. She craves constant companionship, and as she becomes more secure, she more freely shows her strong spirit. Her howling is loud enough to drive the neighbors crazy.
She jumps on people. During our first walk, she was absolutely perfect. But on the second walk, things took a turn for the worse. She was a terror, pulling me off the road in her quest for a squirrel. She is destructive, and determined to destroy the kennel gate. She never leaves the yard, and only emerges from the kennel when she knows she can be with me.
In spite of her personality quirks, she is sweet and will make an absolutely wonderful companion if she is placed with people who are willing to devote lots of time, training, love and attention to her. With some security, her behavior will certainly improve, but she needs a home where she is a family member.
My neighbor just adopted a pretty young lab mix from the Payson Humane Society. This is the third home for this dog and she is not yet a year old. My neighbor spends lots of time with her, walking miles each day. My neighbor's pet destroyed her furniture and maimed the sprinkler system. No doubt that the dog's destructive tendencies took her back to the pound before. Although chewing can be corrected, it is frustrating to bring home what you hope is a friend for life. It's easy to feel betrayed by bad behavior when all you want to do is provide a loving home. That's why many pets are returned to the pound or stranded in the back yard. Changing bad behavior requires training, patience, determination and consistency.
We all know there are too many dogs and cats. Spaying and neutering helps eliminate abandoned and unwanted
pets. Some breeds are more difficult to place than others. Dogs with a pit bull appearance frighten people away because of their reputation for being aggressive and raised to fight. Many are not neutered to maintain their aggression. Too often they are turned out onto the streets where they mate with other strays. Therefore many stray dogs are part pit bull, and most of them are doomed. When raised in a loving environment, pit bulls make wonderful family dogs, and are amazingly loyal to their family.
I received a successful adoption story from Mary Williams. A friend of hers, Terry Stevens, took a few dogs from the Payson Humane Society down to the valley to see if he could place them. Overcrowding at the shelter left only two options for the dogs: place them or euthanize them.
Dude and his three brothers were abandoned as a puppies. The others were adopted, but because Dude resembled a pit bull, no one wanted him. At Terry's home, Dude experienced new things like sleeping on a soft bed, walking on grass, running free in a yard and having lots of food, water and treats. So while Terry was looking for a home for Dude, Dude decided he was pretty happy with Terry, and Terry realized Dude belonged with him.
Terry is a pilot and hires a sitter when he is away.
Dude has become a great friend and is one very happy dog.
Send me your adoption story during October -- Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog month.
Humane Society info
The Payson Humane Society has plenty of dogs to choose from during Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog month.
The shelter is located at 812 S. McLane Road and is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday. The later hours on Monday are a new feature, instituted the first Monday in October.
If you are not able to adopt a dog, but would like to help the homeless animals volunteers and contributions are always needed.
For more information, call (928) 474-5590.
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.