My little fur-man turns 10 years old this year – 10 years! It sounds and feels surreal. I feel like it was only yesterday that I picked him up in the airport. At that time he was only 6 months old. This little skinny light brown dog that literally came dancing out of his little crate so full of excitement, greeting everyone and everything. My first dog, my first pet owner experience and my first step into the dog world.
I want to tell you Chester’s story this week to highlight the importance of adopting a shelter dog and show you how much joy a shelter dog can give you.
How we met
I adopted Chester, by that time named Rufus, through an organisation called Danish Friends of Animals (DFA). Danish Friends of Animals is an organisation run by volunteers that goes to Spain and Portugal to help the local shelters by adopting dogs out to Danish families. Furthermore, they do several trips to help spay and neuter the many strays you can find in Portugal and Spain.
Chester popped up on my computer one night I was scrolling through different web-pages, searching for my new dog. From the moment I saw his picture I knew he had to be my dog, so of course I immediately contacted DFA, and a few phone calls and mails later I was picking him up at the airport – my very first rescue, let alone dog.
Chester’s story still breaks my heart. He was found by some volunteers, tied up to a pole in a school yard while the children were teasing him and throwing rocks at him. Absolutely horrible! Luckily the volunteers spotted him and brought him to the shelter. By that time he was estimated to only being a few months old and after spending a few months at the shelter, I found him online and adopted him.
Adopting a shelter dog
Adopting a dog from a foreign shelter is a risk as you do not know what you are getting and you base your decision on some pictures and other people’s assessment.
If you are a first time dog owner I would suggest to do your proper research both about the shelter but also about dogs, their needs, problems etc. so you are fully prepared to whatever you are getting should you decide on a shelter dog. In my case I was lucky as I got a few bits of Chester’s past, but still I didn’t know everything, and sometimes shelters have dogs that have just been dumped by their owners in the middle of the night without any information (which was the case with Belga, my second rescue), so it is impossible to know their history.
I was lucky with Chester, and I bet you many other shelter adopters will say the same, but quite possibly they’ve gone through other challenges then a family adopting a puppy from a breeder where you have a better idea of what you are getting.
So why should you adopt a dog from a shelter and why should it be from a foreign country?
Shelter dogs, just as any dog, gives you so much love. In my experience both my dogs has bonded very quickly with me, easy to train and both has their quirks and funny personality traits that makes me laugh daily. I got Chester when he was very young, but even if you get an older dog, they will still bond to you and hey even an old dog can learn new tricks 😉
There is a strong debate about whether or not to adopt a shelter dog from abroad. Many people think it is bad to bring more dogs in when their country already has filled shelters, and I see the point in that.
The benefits with a local shelter is that you get to meet the staff and your potential new dog before you sign any adoption papers, which when adopting from a foreign country normally is not the case. However, at least here in Scandinavia, shelter life for a dog is much nicer than it is in fx. Portugal, where there is simply too many street dogs and too few resources, even in the shelters, to help them all.
In my humble opinion I think it should be a personal decision where you want to adopt from – none are more right or wrong than the other. The most important is that you find a dog that you think you can connect with while of course having made sure that you can provide whatever that dog should need both in terms of physical and mental health.
Have you adopted a dog from a shelter and what is/was your experience with it?
Let me know, and I will see you guys next time.
Thanks for reading 🙂