Earlier this year, my parents went out on a limb and adopted a dog from our local animal shelter.
It was a surprising move considering they gave every extra ounce of attention to their other “perfect” spoiled, pudgy dog. It was hard to believe they thought to open their hearts to another furry friend – let alone one from the shelter.
The dog they chose had long black, mangled fur and was desperately in need of a bath and good meal. We weren’t even exactly sure if he was cute because his face was covered in dreadlocked fur. He was definitely in need of “lovins.”
We were skeptical of him. Although he was healthy with no ticks, fleas or rabies, he was from a shelter, which we immediately assumed meant there was a possibility that he had a mean side or could be strange. He acted differently than pudgy dog and seemed unsure about his new surroundings. He didn’t play with toys and was confused about the new name, “Harry,” which we decided fit better than his given shelter name.
A week after his arrival, he began to look and act like a new dog. He, of course, was given a bath and haircut, which seemed to give him more personality. He started playing with toys, interacting with pudgy dog and greeted everyone at the door. He didn’t bite; he wasn’t mean or weird. You could say he was an average “normal” dog.
Today, he’s another member of the family. My sisters and I called him “brother,” which we love because we never had one before him. He’s always pawing for attention, sneaks licks at faces and always wants to cuddle on a shoulder. Sometimes I think if he had arms, he’d reach out and give hugs. He is no longer a stranger in our house – he’s our little Harry dog.
I’ve heard and seen several people turn their nose in the air at the thought of adopting a shelter dog. There’s a stigma out there that shelter dogs, especially black ones, are mean, abused, sickly or unhealthy, have trouble bonding with new families and don’t have owners for a reason. They’re referred to sometimes as “damaged goods.”
The many misconceptions about the quality of animals in rescue shelters is disheartening.
My hope is that Harry’s story may inspire or change minds of those searching for a companion and have avoided expanding their search in local shelters.
Harry turned out to be one of a kind with his own personality. He has filled an empty spot in our hearts that we didn’t even know we had. This experience has proven to my family that shelter dogs are just as good as a dog in the window at a pet store. My own mother is one to admit she would have never thought to look in a shelter because of the stigmas they hold. It was a very rare matter that my parents just happened to make that random stop to see what the shelter had.
Animals all have their own special reasons for ending up in the shelter and are simply just there waiting for a nice, warm home. If you’re looking for a pet, please stop in and see who’s hanging out at the local animal shelter. Odds are your “Harry” is sitting there waiting for you.
BCR Staff Writer Goldie Currie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.