For a pet without a home, the best thing ever is the person who chooses to adopt them. This is the concept behind The Shelter Pet Project. A joint effort by The Humane Society, Maddie’s Fund, and the Ad Council, the project encourages people to choose shelter animals or those at animal rescues. Their website provides a gallery of adoption listings in your area. My only criticism is that they only list dogs and cats; many shelters have rats, rabbits, parrots and a whole host of other animals in need of a home as well. (They do, however, have a shelter locator, so check that out if you want something outside the dog-cat binary.) At a time of year when some people will be thinking how cute a puppy under the Christmas tree would be, there are homeless animals of all types and ages desperate for a home that will still love them when the holiday spirit has worn off, when they still need to be house trained or given medical care or taken on walks.
Animal rescue is something of a family tradition. When I was growing up, we had four dogs; two were bought from breeders (hey, live and learn). The third was adopted through the vet clinic after she lost a leg to a vehicle hit and the owners did not want the expense of saving a “worthless” dog; I got eleven years of companionship from a dog that wasn’t worth one vet bill to another person. The fourth ran up the street by our property and ducked under our fence; he chose his forever home that day. We also took in stray cats, a wounded possum, and a crow that couldn’t fly. I grew up surrounded by animals and a good portion of them were adopted by conventional means or by happy chance.
My most recent pet is Gabi, a pit bull mix. I adopted her from the local shelter. There was a series of crossed wires and missed chances and bureaucratic cock-ups and I almost never got her. But I did. Now I have a dog that lies on my bed, next to my computer, and guards me while I write. She knows the sound of my computer switching off because that means it’s time to go play or eat or both. She is always happy to see me. Her greatest desire in life is to be at my side all the time and everywhere. She is unconditional love embodied.
Visit a shelter or rescue. Give the gift of a forever home to a pet and you can bring home unconditional love, too.
(Thanks to Shakesville for the info.)