Last week, I visited the Alvin Animal Adoption Center — better known to most locals as the animal shelter.
While there, I got to see the dozens of dogs and cats the shelter has available for adoption. My trip was work-related because I am not currently in the market for a new pet. But even knowing that, it was hard to walk away, leaving all the animals behind.
Every dog and cat at the shelter has its own story, but two stories really stuck out to me.
The first was Sasha, a mid-size female dog who, believe it or not, has called the shelter home for 13 months. Think about that, a healthy, adoptable dog has called the shelter home for more than a year.
When I was there, we took Sasha out of her cage. What I saw was an excited, happy puppy that loved attention. Someday, hopefully soon, Sasha will find a home and will make someone an excellent dog.
The second story already has a happy ending. In February, two dogs came to the shelter together, and they spent the next 10 months at the shelter. Toby and Tilley were best friends, and the shelter staff hoped they could be adopted as a pair.
And after 10 months, they were.
Shelter Manager Autumn Miller told me the story about how a little boy came to the shelter looking to adopt a dog with his birthday money. And he was drawn to the pair while they were drawn to him.
When they were taken out of the cage, the two dogs snuggled up to the boy, and he went home with both. If history is an indicator, those dogs and that boy will be best friends for years to come.
Personally, I have always been a fan of shelter pets for a couple of reasons. No. 1, you are literally saving an animal that needs to be saved. No. 2, every animal you take home will be fixed with its vaccinations up to date. No. 3, the shelter is a great place to see and adopt adult dogs, and I am a big fan of adult dogs.
In my life, I’ve had several great dogs. But the best of them all was an akita we adopted from the Humane Society in Phoenix. At the time, we lived in a crappy neighborhood that had a lot of safety issues. So I was looking for a big dog. But I wanted a dog that was gentle, obedient and protective. Not an easy mix to find, but Rusty fit the bill.
When we lived in Phoenix, he would sleep at the front door with his ears up. I just assumed that was normal. When we moved away to a much safer neighborhood, he slept in our bedroom.
In Phoenix, he could sense our stress, and his job was to protect us. And trust me, if someone unwelcome wanted to get into our home, they would have had to kill Rusty first.
There were a few times when someone walked into the yard, I had to physically hold Rusty back. I have no doubt he would have done whatever was necessary to protect his family.
Rusty was also sweet and gentle and loving with the kids. He was potty-trained, was never aggressive with food and was simply a perfect dog.
Oh and I forgot to mention this, the day we went to the shelter looking for a dog was going to be Rusty’s last day on Earth.
He had been at the Humane Society for several months, and if he had not been adopted that day, he would have been put down.
There is no way to ever know this for sure, but I was convinced then and remain convinced until this day that Rusty knew we had saved him.
And because of that, he spent the rest of his days thanking us in the best way a dog can — unconditional love.