Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Adopt a Shelter Pet Month: My Ava

October is Adopt a Shelter Pet Month! As most of you know, this issue is near and dear to my heart. Since adopting my first Italian Greyhound in 2005, and learning that all of her health issues stemmed from originally being purchased at an unseemly puppy store supplied by puppy mills, I have been dedicated to rescue efforts.

When I lost Sophie after just a year and a half, I couldn't bring myself to 'replace' her with another dog. So, I became a foster mom. I was able to care for numerous dogs that needed forever homes, love them and spoil them to the best of my ability, and then send them off to their new families. I did this for several months.

One of those foster dogs came from an 'accidental' litter. She was 9 months old, had never been outside, and hadn't even been named. I took her in like I did all the others, but she was *much* worse off than the others I had fostered (I was lucky to have fostered well-adjusted, healthy dogs up until that point.) This dog was scared of the world, unsocialized and untrained. I had my work cut out for me.

I spent that first weekend getting to know her and researching names that would fit her. I believe a lot is in a name and it can set the tone for the rest of their life. She was so elegant and ladylike, and I eventually settled on the name Ava, after Ava Gardner.

I worked with Ava for months, helping her learn to be in the world, making her understand I would always protect her, and teaching her the basics of walking on a leash and being in a crate.

The Rescue Organizer kept asking me when she would be ready to be placed up for adoption, and I kept putting her off. Everyone knew what I wasn't going to admit - she was mine.

When I officially adopted her, no one was suprised. :)

This is the picture I first took of Ava to be used when she was placed up for adoption.

She helped me with other fosters after her. Here she is with Ducati.

With more fosters, Izzy and Rerun.

Sharing her bed with Izzy and Rerun.

My snuggle bug.

Adoption has always been the best option for me, and I truly believe it's the best option for everyone. I don't want to anger the responsible breeders out there (I could care less about angering the irresponsible ones!), but the fact is that there are so many homeless dogs in the world that I just can't fully get behind creating more puppies that will go to families that very well could have given a homeless dog a home.

I could have bought an Italian Greyhound puppy from a breeder no problem. But what I got in a 'shelter' pet was equal to what I would have got from a breeder, AND I had the added bonus on knowing that I saved a life, I gave a homeless dog a home, and I helped the overpopulation problem as opposed to adding to it. That is a great feeling.

(And yes, Ava was still quite young at 9 months AND a purebred. Those two things are never an excuse to use a breeder.)

Next up: My other Rescue pup, Jackson!


  1. Heather: you are one of the angels walking this earth. I think everyone should adopt. There are waaay too many needy animals out there and too many being put to sleep for no other reason then there is no more room or no place for them to go. It hurts my heart to no end. I too, don't mind responsible breeders but I also think they should be limited because we really do have an overpopulation of dogs and cats. All, but one, of the dogs and cats I've had in my life were adopted - they are all so precious and I would not bring in another animal companion any other way.

  2. Thank you Kim! You are amazing in your dedication to this cause as well. :) Shelter pups give so much love, don't they? Restricting breeders is great way to go, I think. And of course ridding the world of the *&$#* puppy mills!

  3. I would love to see people having to apply for breeder's licenses, and pay a fee annually if they want to keep unaltered pets. Obviously it would be tough to enforce, but it sure would be a start.

    I also think you're awesome for fostering! I used to do wildlife rehab and it was easier to let them go because you can't spend much time bonding - but cuddling with a doggy... I'd be a failed foster every time! Hats off to you, my dear!

  4. Brandi - Regulation for breeders is something I haven't looked into much, but since I claim to be dedicated to the cause, I really should. You and Kim both have great suggestions. I feel like I haven't done my research. Something needs to be done.

    Fostering was definitely the hardest thing I've ever done and I would cry and cry each time one of them was adopted. My fiance always asked if I really wanted to do it again, and I did because it was also so rewarding. I bed wildlife rescue is the same way - and so interesting too! The things you must have learned about different species!