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10 Compelling Reasons to Add a Shelter Dog to Your Life

October is Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog month.

If you haven’t already experienced the joy of dog adoption, there’s no time like the present to save a canine life, and upgrade your own in the process.

I should know: I’ve been adopting dogs from shelters since 1994 when I brought home my very first pit bull, a white vision of beauty named Daisy. Since then, I’ve adopted dozens of dogs in every imaginable color, shape, and size. Some of them I re-homed; many wound up staying with me. Shelter dogs have taught me more lessons about life and love than I can count or recount here.

This much I can tell you: There’s no nicer, more unpretentious teacher than a shelter dog! Daisy was also a brilliant literary coach, motivating me to achieve every young writer’s dream: placing an article in The New Yorker.

Shelter dogs also impart excellent design advice. Thanks to my adopted dogs, I was able to summon the courage to write my first book, Animal House Style: Designing a Home to Share With Your Pets. They also inspired all my other books about pets and design. Shelter dogs are natural-born decorators; they vote with their feet, and they don’t charge a fee. Plus, they are wonderful to sleep with, especially when the weather turns cold. Shelter dogs are great in bed. At my place, every night is a four-dog night!

A visit to your local animal shelter or Dogster’s adoption center (powered by Petfinder.com) will get you started on the road to canine redemption. Need incentive? Here are 10 compelling reasons to adopt a shelter dog. What are you waiting for?

1. As the environmentally conscious recycling movement has proven, it’s easy (and fun!) being green, and dog adoption is the noblest form of recycling. One person’s trash (boo!) is another’s treasured pet.

2. Every year, millions of healthy, sweet, soulful dogs are killed at animal shelters across this country just for lack of cage space; as with people, bad luck can cause good dogs to become homeless through no fault of their own. By adopting a shelter dog, you’re doing your part to help end the nationwide crisis of homelessness.

3. With so many charismatic celebrities walking around with adopted dogs by their side — Lenny Kravitz among them — it’s clear that adoption isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the cool thing to do. To your adopted dog, you’re the resident rock star!

4. You know all those people who are so proud of their honor-student kids? Well, adopted dogs are super-smart, the Mensas of muttdom. So skip the bumper sticker — flaunt stray pride with a cool collar or T-shirt. Even your coffee can proclaim pride for pound pups!

5. Don’t you want somebody to love? Somebody who will actually love you back? For anyone who’s ever suffered the pangs of unrequited affection — and who hasn’t? — rest assured that an adopted dog will return those tender feelings tenfold. No more lonely nights!

6. If you’ve had it up to here with criticism from your nearest and dearest, get used to unconditional canine adoration. Years of psychotherapy can’t hold a candle to an adopted dog’s uncomplaining, adoring presence. “Dinner’s late? Again? I adore you!”

7. Got performance anxiety about trying out a new hobby or activity? With an adopted dog as your nonjudgmental audience or workout partner, there’s nothing to fear: from exercise routines to gourmet cooking to knitting, your efforts will get an A+ even if they deserve a D.

8. Adopting a dog proves you’re a person of great inner depth who values substance (a mystery dog of unknown parentage) over style (a predictable pedigreed purebred).

9. But hey, if you’re a style hound, there’s no more stylin’ statement than a shelter dog — she/he coordinates beautifully with any outfit or style of decor!

10. Are you a political animal? Then reaffirm your faith in the democratic process with an adopted dog. After all, shelter mutts are the people’s dog: E Pluribus Unum, one dog out of many. Uncle Sam wants YOU to adopt today!

The author of six books, Julia Szabo writes Dogster’s Living With Dogs column and is a pet expert for Howcast.com.

Rita MacCallon aka Ranger Rita October 05, 2011 at 01:00 AM
The Park Pet Haven dog rescue is located right here in Tucker. Check our selection of Adorable Adoptables at Petfinder.com . Then give us a call and let us know which precious pup you would like to take into your home. 770-414-7275.

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