The Joy of Adopting a Shelter Pet
by Joanna Samson, FOTAS Board of Directors
as seen in the "Aiken Standard" 12/8/13
My husband David swears that shelter dogs are grateful. He says they know they have been saved and that you saved them, and that their love and devotion are expressions of that gratitude.
Now I can’t say for sure that our Maggie dog’s love is an expression of gratitude rather than a reciprocal response to our love and care, or that the depth of our terrier mutt Jack’s devotion to us is somehow greater than, say, a pedigreed poodle’s devotion to its owner.
But I can say this: for most of us, the choice of that special companion from a shelter is not deliberate or particularly rational. We visit the county shelter, and somehow, despite the pain in our hearts we feel for all of those animals with an uncertain future, we are drawn to a particular animal by some primordial feeling emanating from that mysterious, magical place in our soul where the spirit kindles love.
Stormee and Chase Cato and their daughter, Kayson knew what kind of dog they wanted after their beloved Deuce, a pit bull, passed away: another big dog or maybe a Brittany Spaniel. Nevertheless, they decided to visit the Aiken County shelter before purchasing a new puppy, more out of a sense of civic responsibility than a conviction they might find a suitable dog.
When the Cato’s pulled up to the shelter, they saw a beautiful brown spaniel cross named Woody romping with other dogs in the fenced yard, and they just knew, somehow, he was special. Was it his soft eyes, his joyful frolicking or the gentle way he played with Kayson in the yard? The Catos can’t say for sure, but they knew their search was over; Woody was the one.
Lynn and Woody Malone have a similar story. They weren’t certain they were ready for another dog so soon after the death of their long time canine companion. But their friend Edie Hubler and long-time FOTAS shelter volunteer Sandra Procter just had this feeling that a sweet, black lab mix at the shelter named Lewis would be a perfect fit for the Malone’s.
And he was – they were instantly smitten. Was it Lewis’ soulful, big brown eyes? The playful, sometimes silly personality? Who knows? The Malone’s took Lewis home, renamed him Charlie, and made him a member of their family.
One might be tempted to attribute the spontaneous attraction of the Cato’s to Woody or the Malone’s to Charlie to something more mundane, like opportunity or pity, but I do not. Fact is, there were lots of other dogs at the shelter on those days worthy of their selection.
I believe it was destiny. The Cato’s brought Woody home the very day Chase’s father died, and Woody has been instrumental in helping the Cato’s, and particularly Kayson, cope with that painful loss.
As for the Malone’s? Well, Charlie has filled the void left by the death of their dog with joy. He’s claimed the sofa and the chair, steals tomatoes off the table, pesters the cat and runs around the yard with a ten gallon plastic flower pot in his mouth.
Your destiny may be waiting for you right now at the Aiken County Animal Shelter. Maybe it’s an adorable puppy, a goofy dog or a regal cat. Please consider adopting your new pet at the Aiken County Animal Shelter – it’s a choice you won’t regret.