After becoming involved with social media (sites such as Twitter and Facebook), I became more aware of the wide-ranging efforts of adoption groups and shelters. I learned how easily those efforts are hurt by the economy and by the public perception of shelter animals.
Here is a recap of how I met a few of my pets, and how these adoptions have a ripple effect; helping other pets be adopted.
SophieSophie came to us from the shelter in 2002. I wrote about her then and did an update a few years later. With much gratitude, I am happy to say that 9 years later, Sophie is a central part of our (growing) pet family.
Sophie is the most easy-going dog you could ask for. She has welcomed Argos the Greyhound and a couple Greyhound fosters; no bent-out-of-shape attitudes here. She has been a wonderful role model/mentor for these hounds, too. She shows them the ropes and is a calm influence.
How She Helps
Sophie is a natural for promoting shelter adoptions. She is pretty and friendly, but it is more than that. All pets are beautiful and have a story to tell. We have been stopped so many times on the street and asked "what breed is she?" and "where did you get such a dog?" People have even asked if they could take their picture with her. I wish I could capture the look on people's faces when I say that we got her from our local shelter. The shelter? Yes, a shelter.
This makes it easy to talk about visiting local shelters. And honestly, in the 9 years since we adopted her, many shelters have improved dramatically. Clean and bright facilities, attractive pet profiles posted on the shelter web site or PetFinder.com, and staff available for questions and training have made a huge difference in numbers of adoptions.
The GreyhoundsWe found a local Greyhound adoption group through PetFinder.com and adopted Argos in December 2009.
Since then, I have written about Greyhound adoption and decided to try out fostering. I will be the first to say that I was one of those who said "no way" when it came to fostering. If the animal is in my house and has a name, it would be adopted.
But after reading up on fostering dogs and cats, we made the decision as a family to foster Hammer the Greyhound. It was a great learning experience for all of us, and Hammer found a perfect forever home.
How the Hounds Help
Walking around the neighborhood with a Greyhound or two always garners comments and conversation. Many people ask if they can pet a "real live Greyhound," which Argos happily obliges.
Questions about living with a Greyhound are common; people are most curious about how "hyper" these dogs are, and how much exercise they require. Many are surprised at the answers: many retired "45 mph couch potatoes" are middle-aged, calm, cat-like, and do fine with a walk a day. (Younger/never raced dogs are naturally a little more exuberant.) They also make great apartment dogs. This makes for a great opportunity to dispel common myths.
Retired Greyhounds especially benefit from fostering. They need to learn what stairs are, all about windows and mirrors, and getting along with non-Greyhound pets. Things they don't learn growing up in a non-home environment.
We are now fostering Burro the Greyhound, who was very, very timid upon arrival. Seeing her blossom out of her shell is very rewarding. At this rate, we may be headed for foster "failure" (adoption). Time will tell.
Barnie the CatBarnie got his name because I found him in our barn. He was thin, completely matted, not neutered, and with large patches of hair falling out (due to the matting). He was a mess.
After all of those things taken care of, I had my reservations about bringing a semi-feral cat inside our home. What if we had urination issues? What if he attacked our other cats or pets? With his long silky hair, I knew that returning him to the wilds of outside would just be another matted mess in a few months.
How Barnie Helps
Turns out, Barnie is as gentle and social as can be. He greets human visitors to our home and loves playing with the dogs, foster dogs included.
I write about him, or rather post lots of photos of him, on my personal blog. This has evolved into Barnie's space, and I think it is a good way to tell his rags-to-riches story; to help people see the potential in each animal. Because he was not so handsome at first glance.