Sunday, January 24, 2010

Finding My Darhma

Many of you have probably noticed that I’m an animal lover.  My family and I share our home with 3 dogs and a cat, as well as a leopard gecko, a shrimp and 3 gold fish.  We also take in foster dogs for a rescue group called Hope Animal Rescues .  So far we’ve fostered 5 dogs.  All of them have found forever homes.

Lately I’ve been on a personal journey to discover my dharma.  I guess I’m having a mid-life crisis or something.  You know, I’m 43 and I spend a significant amount of time doing laundry, making lunches, cleaning toilets, running the vacuum, etc.  I was starting to get depressed about it.  Not that I don’t completely believe that taking care of my family and giving them a safe and happy environment to live in is important.  I totally believe that.  But it wasn’t enough.

So I felt that I needed to find something that really gives me a sense of doing something important for someone else.  I’ve found that with the fostering.  I know that I’m giving a homeless animal a warm and safe place to hang out while waiting for his or her forever family.  I provide them with food and lots of love.  They might need to work on manners or house training.  I do that too.  And although it’s sad to let them go, I’m glad to know that my family and I played a small but important part in that dog’s journey to a forever home.  It also helps Kim and Jackie out.  One fewer dog at the shelter means there’s room to rescue one more.

I was wondering how many animals enter shelters each year and how many of those are euthanized.  I found some really sad and scary numbers from the Humane Society of the United States.  They estimate that animal shelters care for 6-8 million dogs and cats each year.  They further estimate that 3-4 million (yes, 3-4 million) are euthanized.

I’m blown away by those numbers.  Why should so many animals need to be euthanized?  How do they end up in the shelters in the first place?  I don’t like to sound preachy or to criticize anyone for the decisions they make regarding pets in their home.  People have many reasons for wanting a dog of a particular breed.  Or they may be uneducated about the availability of great dogs in a shelter.  I’ve heard from neighbors and friends that they avoid shelter dogs because they don’t want to get someone else’s “problem” dog.  They want a puppy so they can raise it “their way”.  But so many of the dogs in shelters ended up there through no fault of their own.  They weren’t problems.  Sometimes it’s that the owner died.  Or it’s that the owners didn’t think through the decision of pet ownership and should never have gotten a dog in the first place.  I’d venture to say that most shelter dogs would make great pets.  Perhaps they need some training or just some TLC.  And people like those at Hope Rescues will invest time and effort into getting a dog ready for a new home.

Anyway, here is Billy Bob.  He was rescued from a breeder in a small town nearby.  They had 47 dogs, all Chihuahuas, Pugs and Chi-Pug mixes, in a two-room trailer.  Animal control raided and Billy Bob ended up with Hope Rescues.  He’s a sweet little boy.  He’s only about 2 years old.  He’ll be ready for adoption as soon as he’s neutered. 

If you are thinking about adding a dog or a cat to your family, consider adoption.  If you are interested in a particular breed, most shelters get purebred dogs in from time to time.  They will often keep you on a list so they can contact you.  Most shelters offer all kinds of support.  They want you to be happy with your new pet.  And if you want to buy from a breeder, check them out.  If they insist on meeting you somewhere along the interstate or won’t allow you to see their operation, be very suspicious.


otin said...

You truly have a heart of gold!

My cat is a shelter cat and one of my dogs is a shelter dog. It is very sad when animals are put down just because they are in the way.

Brian Miller said...

i think you found it. smiles.

my cat came from a woodpile where she was abandoned.

Doc said...

The thought of people just abandoning or euthanizing animals makes me ill. I am glad that I found your blog Barb!
Im gonna read more!

tori said...

I would love to foster but the Hubs would kill me. I think you're doing an amazing thing and I'm hoping to find my "Darhma" someday too (wanna have a midlife crisis together? I'll bring the chips...)

Barb said...

Tori, you bring the chips, I'll bring the wine! Unless you'd rather have margaritas.:)

rxBambi said...

I'll bring the cheese. It goes with wine and chips :)

mean_owen said...

I'm glad you found your dharma with these animals. Now just be sure not to run over the dogma with your karma.