On September 7th, I proudly released my first illustrated children’s book titled, Gypsy to the Rescue. I wrote in my last blog post that the book is about a small German Shepard pup who embarks on a journey to find her forever home. In this post, I would like to talk about the special relationships between pets and their owners, the amazing benefits of adopting a pet, and how to find your perfect match.
“The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.” -Mark Twain
What makes a good pet owner?
By taking on the role of becoming caretaker for any animal, one must accept the responsibility that their wellbeing and quality of life are in your hands. Every animal is different and have unique needs, especially as they get older. Some have high energy throughout their lives, others may have been born with special needs, but all pets want to be loved and treated with kindness. There is nothing better than coming home after a long day and being greeted with excited happy smiles from your favorite furry friends. However, pets with feathers and scales have their own adorable way of greeting their person too!
In the spirit of Gypsy, I truly believe that my dogs are a woman’s best friend, but I have been blessed with the opportunity to rescue a variety of animals throughout my life. Some animals are ready to play and settle in as soon as they arrive, and others need a bit more time to adjust to their new surroundings. It is heartbreaking when you meet an animal that is so scared of people, which was most likely because they had been previously mistreated and failed by humans in the past. By accepting their fears and building trust, the love between a pet and their owner is a bond that will never break if you lead with love.
“Not all homes should have a dog, but all dogs should have a home.” -Anonymous
Should I adopt a pet?
The origin story for the real Gypsy that I had adopted in the Florida Keys, was less cheerful. In the book, Gypsy had endured a series of failed adoptions, which was sadly true. This unfortunate and all too common experience for rescued animals is what motivated me to write this children’s book. Depending on what kind of shelter an animal is sent to, if they are not adoptable or have major health issues, there is a likelihood that they may face a tragic fate. A German Shepard like Gypsy may seem intimidating, simply because of her breed. It is these negative stereotypes placed on these innocent creatures that make pet adoption a lifesaving endeavor.
Providing a happy, safe, and healthy environment for animals is something that I am passionate about. In the wake of the tragic unfolding of Hurricane Ida, displaced animals need forever and foster homes now more than ever. The reality of local shelters and rescue centers is that they have become overwhelmed with an influx of animals in need, and therefore adoption and fostering is so important. The unparalleled appreciation and love that these rescued pets will bring into your life is priceless. Sometimes saving a pet’s life is also saving your life too.
“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” -M.K. Clinton (Author)
How do I introduce a new pet?
When welcoming any new pet into your life, there are some preliminary steps that should be taken to make the adjustment period easier. I do not want to claim that I am an expert in this field, but from my personal experience and the research that I have done on this subject, some of the most helpful tips are the simplest to implement.
3 key questions to consider when making the decision to introduce a new pet into your home:
Is my family ready for a pet?
Even if your heart is in the right place and you have every good intention, one of the main reasons why animals are returned to animal shelters is because the adopters may not be equipped to handle a new pet. For example: if you only have experience caring for small animals, maybe adopting a large dog isn’t right for you, and that is okay! It is a big responsibility to adopt an animal, especially if it is a rescue. This step also applies to pets you may find from a breeder or pet store because every animal has gone through a unique journey, which needs to be respected. Most of the time, we never truly know what our pets have been through before we meet them. Once everything has been considered and you have decided that your family has space for a new addition, then it is time to find your new best friend.
What pet should I chose?
Ever since the Covid crisis became our new normal, we have all been cooped-up at home. However, with the world beginning to reopen it is important to be reasonable with how much time that you will have to spend with your pet. Puppies and kittens are undoubtably adorable, but they do require more supervision and training before they can be left alone. If you are going back to the office soon, maybe an older animal that will sleep most of the day would be a better fit. Choosing a pet should rely on your lifestyle: are you looking for a hiking companion or do you want to find a fur-baby to join you on the couch for a Netflix marathon? Another aspect is if you have children and/or other pets in the house. These are questions that most shelters, rescues, and breeders ask before you adopt a pet. There are dogs who love cats and cats who love rats out there! Knowing how everyone will interact with one another is key to successfully integrating a pet into your family, and sometimes it takes a bit more research to find the perfect match.
How do I make a proper introduction?
Once you have decided what pet is right for you and your lifestyle, the first introduction can be intimidating. The steps to introducing a cat into a new home is different than bringing home a new dog. For example, it is recommended to keep an adopted cat or kitten separated in a safe space from any current resident pets until they are comfortable in their new environment. To read more about introducing a new cat or kitten into your home, click here to read tips from the Meow Foundation. For further reading about integrating a new dog, the Animal Rescue League of Boston wrote a wonderful article lists out what to do before bringing your dog home, on the first day, establishing daily routines, and relationship building. If you want to read the full article, click here. Additionally, this article by The Barking Lot specifically addresses how to successfully introduce a second dog into a home that already has one.
“When I look into the eyes of an animal, I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul.” -A.D. Williams
Can I get a service dog?
For some families, there is a need for a service animal. Although many types of animals can give emotional support, the most common and productive animals for service work is a dog. It is important to note that adopting a service dog is adopting a working dog. This relationship allows for those living with a disability to gain independence and companionship. While the circumstances are unique, the bond that is shared in this type of relationship is so special. Here are some resources for different organizations that focus on service dogs:
Whatever the circumstances may be, professionally trained service dogs can give their owners freedom and the ultimate sidekick. Freedom Service Dogs of America not only assists with professionally training service dogs to assist their humans, but they also have a program to adopt “Career-Change” dogs. This secondary program gives the dogs that have not met the requirements to become fully certified, and the amount of training the received varies, but they can be a companion unlike any other.
This organization utilizes the core philosophy that every “BIG” dog deserves a chance. With their unique approach and heartwarming mission, Big Dogs Huge Paws are changing the way that people view big dogs, since there is a huge need for large breed adoption. I have had a few Bernese Mountain dogs and they are the most loving, precious, compassionate creatures that I have ever encountered. Big dogs have the biggest hearts!
NEADS has several programs for service dogs that train to assist owners with specific needs: for adults and children with physical disabilities, for hearing, for veterans, for children with autism or other developmental disabilities, and for assistance dogs. Each of these programs train dogs in a unique way to accomplish particular jobs and tasks to help their human companions with whatever challenges they may face.
For more information about getting a service dog, click here.
My handsome cat, Loki, that I adopted from EASEL in 2021
Where can I find a rescue center?
If your heart and home are open to adopting a new pet, there are plenty of rescue centers and shelters to choose from. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is a great resource and you can find locations nationwide. Best Friends Animal Society has a sanctuary in Utah as well as a network of affiliated shelters across the country. Best Friends has a wonderful mission that aims to stop kill shelters in the country by 2025.
If you are in the New Jersey area, Easel Animal Rescue League is located in Mercer County and is where I rescued my black kitty Loki from earlier this year. There is also the Jersey Shore Animal Care Center in Ocean County, and the Monmouth County SPCA.
Since local shelters are in the most need for animals to be adopted. On Petfinder you can even search for specific areas, type of pet, age of the pet, etc. Adopt-a-pet also has a great search tool that you can look up local shelters and search for specific pets that you are looking to adopt.