Adding a dog to your family can be one of your best decisions ever.
The warm fuzzies grow exponentially if you open your arms, hearts and homes to a pooch who might be overlooked by those wanting puppies or purebreds.
National Mill Dog Rescue and the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region have thrown open their kennels in hopes of finding loving families for one dozen special pooches.
Theresa Strader, founder and director of operations for Mill Dog Rescue, urges folks to consider adopting a senior. She founded her rescue in 2007 as a way to end the commercial dog-breeding industry, better known as puppy mills, which supply pet stores with puppies. Her crews head out regularly to rescue the animals that breeders have confined to cages for their entire lives with little to no human contact or medical care.
Many of the dogs they bring back are older. A 7- or 8-year-old, especially one of the smaller breeds, can live twice that time.
“People don’t want to lose him,” Strader said about Poki, an 8-year-old poodle available for adoption. “I understand, but a rescue heart makes me say whatever time we have is worth it.
“Seniors deserve it. Our fellow man put him in this situation, and dog lovers owe it to him to give him a happy ending.
“I’m a big fan of senior dogs,” Strader said. “I like to spread the message of senior dogs for young people who have busy lives, and seniors don’t need as much (exercise). They’re a great companion.”
Gretchen Pressley, Humane Society spokeswoman, says shelter pets are every bit as good as pets you’d get elsewhere.
People still have some misconceptions about them, such as the state of their health, but each dog receives a thorough examination and care from one of the six veterinarians on staff. Before they’re adopted out, they also get spayed or neutered and vaccinated.
Folks also mistakenly think behavior will be an issue.
“A lot of shelter pets are turned in because of what we like to call people problems, not pet problems,” Pressley said. “The family moves away, there are life situations, any number of things happen.
“The pets are wonderful family members and would do fine in just about any family. Our goal is to really help the entire family be thoughtful pet owners and see the pet through into its new home.”
Remember to not gift an unsuspecting person with a dog for the holidays. Owning an animal is a big responsibility that must be taken seriously, especially for mill dog pups, who have never been properly socialized.
“They take time and patience to come around, but they do come around,” said Strader. “The vast majority of dogs become acclimated and loving family members.
“And when you experience that with a dog, when you help put them on the road to healing like that, you’ll never have a deeper bond than with a dog like that. All mill dogs have one quirk or another, but it’s manageable and endearing.
“The feeling of the person who brings that dog around is unparalleled.”