Deciding to get a pet is a big step, especially when it comes to where you’ll be getting one from. One of the most rewarding options is to adopt. Providing a loving home to an abandoned, surrendered, or rescued animal can make all the difference in their quality of life and yours.
After we said goodbye to the family dog in 2013, I started thinking about getting my own but there were always things that stopped me, important realizations that you must become okay with before truly pursuing pet adoption. At the time, for me it was the costs associated with caring for a pet. Knowing that beyond the usual food, toys, grooming (depending on the breed) and yearly vet visits, there would also be the unexpected, such as emergency vet care and boarding when I’d be away. I’d casually browse adoption sites, but let the idea just float around the back of my head for the next five years.
Then, in the fall of 2018 after three years with my boyfriend, conversations about what it was like for us growing up with pets and on the cusp of moving in together, the idea of adopting a dog of our own bounded from a passing thought to firmly dropping a squeaky chew toy in the front of my mind. Having two incomes between us and both being remote workers, him full-time and me four days per week, the timing felt right. We discussed it on and off and agreed that we wanted to go the adoption route so I began looking through adoption sites again.
In mid December of that year I found the cutest little white and black puppy up for adoption. Unfortunately, her profile said “Application Pending” so I reached out to the organization and asked if that meant no one else could submit one. To my surprise, I was told we could still submit an application that way if the first one fell through we’d be next in line. I submitted one for us but the rest of the month passed and despite seeing this little pup still up for adoption on the website, I’d pretty much given up hope of adopting her. Then, on December 26, after an exhaustingly hellish, almost 10 hour drive home from family Christmas, I got an email saying that the first applicants never showed up to see the dog and if we were still interested in adopting her it was now our turn. Before leaving the apartment to visit her, my boyfriend asked, “We’re just going to see her, right?” I said, “Yes, I promise.” Well… from the moment we stepped into the foster family’s house we fell in love. I don’t think my boyfriend expected to fall in love with her so quickly, but as soon as he picked her up I could tell that he was a goner. We learned that her mom had been dropped off at the shelter on October 20 pregnant, and gave birth to a litter of six that night. As soon as the litter was old enough, they and their mom were taken in by this foster family, which made me really happy to know that they weren’t in the shelter long. We’d agreed to just a visit but left having paid half the adoption fees, and after spending the week getting the apartment ready, we returned the next weekend to bring Rosie (a name we chose) home. She was the perfect addition to our little family, and had us wrapped around her little paws.
Sadly our relationship didn’t work out, but I’m so grateful that it happened at a point in my life where I could afford to take on the responsibilities of caring for a dog full time. And while it hasn’t been without its challenges - Rosie has a sensitive stomach and requires a special hydrolyzed protein kibble, and has gone to the emergency vet three times so far for repetitive swallowing episodes that resulted in her vomiting bile - I can’t imagine my life without her.
A lot of people adopt puppies and kittens because they want “the full pet experience,” but senior pets need good homes too, and sometimes young animals aren’t for every life situation. For example, Rosie needed to be walked every 4-5 hours when we first got her because her bladder was so small. Luckily we both worked remotely to be able to accommodate that, but not everyone can. And while some feel that they’re “starting fresh” with a puppy or kitten, not having to worry about a history of abuse and mistreatment with older, adoptable animals, the ones with a history completely out of their control need your love and support too. Shortly after Rosie was adopted, a friend of mine adopted a senior dog who required some retraining and understanding when it came to his potty habits, but he fit into her life perfectly and in 2021 she adopted another senior dog of the same breed, giving her original adoptee a companion.
If you’ve been thinking about adding a pet to your home, please consider taking the time to adopt an animal in need. But before you do, really think about your life and what you can reasonably accommodate. Some important questions to consider:
Adopting a pet can be a wonderful, life changing experience, but do your research and take your time deciding not only what’s best for you, but what’s best for a new pet as well.
-Written by Alyssa Romeo