The twelfth way to help pets? Adopt!

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The best way to help a homeless pet is undoubtedly to adopt one. Literally thousands of pets are waiting — and of course, Christmas would be a good time to open your home and heart. Making the decision, however, isn’t always easy.

My husband, Mike, and I have been struggling with the decision to adopt since we had to have our German Shepherd euthanized several months ago due to ill health. We mourned him deeply, and it still doesn’t take much to bring tears back to our eyes. Frankly, we didn’t think any other dog could heal our hearts, and we rejected the idea of adopting another one because we weren’t sure we wanted to go through the pain again. Maybe it was just too soon. The grief continued.

Cooper, a German Shepherd

A newly adopted Cooper looks slightly perplexed by his new home.

Mike and I work for Petfinder. He has been reading every happy tail that is submitted for many years now, and I’ve been sharing some of them on the Petfinder blog to spotlight adoptions. We’ve literally read over 29,000 adoption stories. A good many of them start by talking about the loss of a pet, and one common refrain is that the best antidote to the grief is adopting another companion. So many people have said it, we had to give the thought credence. Thus, right after Thanksgiving, we decided to take to heart the advice of these adopters who have been in our same boat.

I wanted another German Shepherd mix because I’ve never had a dog I loved as much as Tucker. Another reason is that we live in the country, and I want a formidable-looking pooch that barks when strangers show up at the door, even if, in reality, the dog is a sweetie pie.

Thus began our search on Petfinder. I entered our search criteria. Then I began scouring the resultant photos for one that was vaguely reminiscent of Tucker. Big doleful eyes stared out at me on a listing by the Senatobia-Tate County Animal Shelter in Mississippi, some 300 miles from us. We were immediately smitten with this 12-week-old pup who had come to the shelter at the beginning of October, part of an abandoned litter. His listing said he was shy about getting his photo taken. So was Tucker! It seemed like a sign, and we wanted to meet him. Mike made the phone call to make sure he was still available.

Two days later, we got up at 5 a.m., starting early because sleet was scheduled to pummel our area late that night. When we met him around one o’clock, we were putty in his paws. Several hours later, he was sleeping in the back seat as we three were homeward bound.

Cooper, as we’ve named him, was flummoxed when he had to mount one step onto our porch. He quickly mastered it, and it hasn’t taken him long to learn that this is his home. He has discovered the joy of snow and tearing up newspapers. The house training is — well — still spotty, but we’re working on it. We’ve signed up for puppy classes, although the little duffer already sits on command. He’s smart!

We’re enjoying the patter of paws around the house. We continue to miss Tucker, of course, and we slip and call this little guy Tucker at times. I feel a little guilty about getting another dog so soon, but as someone said, “To adopt another homeless dog is the best tribute you could pay to Tucker.” So be it.