Today dawned, cold and damp, the chilliest day of the season so far.
As I write this though, my feet are toasty warm, albeit numb. Why, you ask?
Because my dog, Isabella, is lying across them and, after 30 minutes with the weight of a 60-pound pup on your feet, you, too, would start to lose feeling.
However, I don’t have the heart to tell Issy to move. She’s not there because she’s cold; she’s draped across my toes because it’s a way she can stay close while I’m otherwise occupied.
Issy is a snuggle bug. She’s a love sponge. She can’t soak it up fast enough. You won’t find an American Kennel Club certificate among her important papers, but Issy is all heart. She’s a shelter dog.
I share this with you because October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. Nationwide, literally hundreds of thousands of dogs of all ages wait in shelters for that special person or family to rescue them.
Don’t get me wrong; shelters go above and beyond the call of duty in taking care of these forlorn pets, many of them suffering from abandonment, ill treatment or abuse. The reality is, it’s just not the same as having a forever home. It’s not the same as having that special person to love.
And love is what these shelter dogs do unconditionally. Most of the mutts don’t boast of pedigrees, but that cannot diminish their capacity to love. Just ask Issy. She has yet to find anything she doesn’t love, except the rabbit that lives in our garden.
Still not convinced about the value of shelter dogs? Listen to your neighbors.
Bonnie Rodgers, Merrillville: “Years ago, we were all set to buy a golden (retriever) puppy from a breeder, when the humane society made a presentation at my daughter’s school.
“That was it for her. She insisted we visit the shelter that weekend, where she fell in love with Norman, a big, hairy collie-shepherd mix. It was love at first sight for both of them.
“Suzie and Norman have grown up together, and I know that dog would throw himself between her and any harm in a heartbeat. We not only saved a lot of money, but we feel blessed to have taken a wonderful dog into our home.”
Carrie Osbourne, Griffith: “About a year ago, I stopped by the local shelter with a friend to drop off some donations. Something made me ask if I could see the animals, even though I had no desire to adopt a dog.
“There, huddled in the corner of her cage, was Ginger. This tiny ball of reddish fur was shaking. One of the shelter workers told me someone found her cold, wet and hungry on the side of the road.
“Obviously, Ginger tugged at my heartstrings because I never thought twice about taking her home with me. Ginger’s not afraid anymore. She knows she’s home. She knows she’s loved.”
Thinking about adding a dog to your family? Don’t forget to check with your local animal shelter.