by Kim Bellizzi, Volunteer Coordinator
More often than not, people enter an animal shelter looking for a specific kind or breed of dog. Only about 25% of shelter dogs are purebreds; the rest are “designer breeds,” my term for mixed breeds. They are also looking for a certain size and energy, which is fine. Unfortunately shelter dogs do not show their “true” personalities in their kennels. They may be depressed, need to be exercised or scared.
A perfect example of this is Tina, a one year old, mixed breed that was surrendered because her previous owners were not at home most of the time and did not have the time to care for her. Her previous owner said she was shy with strangers and afraid of loud noises. Now she is surrounded by nothing but strangers in a strange place, with lots of loud noises. As I passed her kennel she immediately went to the back of it and cowered. If I stayed in front of it for any length of time I could here a low growl.
I asked one of our staff members who works with behavioral issues, what this was all about. She said it was a distance seeking behavior. Tina was attempting to put as much distance between her and the stranger. So I decided to take her home with me and see what she was like in a home setting.
As I entered my house she was greeted by my dogs, Odie a Goldendoodle and Henny a pit bull mix (adopted from the APF, of course). Tina couldn’t wait to get inside. Her tail immediately went up and they all greeted each other, the way dogs do. I let them out back to play, what a sight. All three were running around chasing the ball I was throwing and having a blast. Tina came up to me and gave me a sloppy dog kiss. This just made my day.
Inside Tina curled up on the couch between Odie and my fiancé, as though she were always a part of our family. Orabella, our cat, went up to Tina and sniffed a little then gave her a little swat just to show her who was boss. Tina gave her a big kiss, much to my surprise. At night she hopped up on the bed and slept between us. In the morning we were greeted with sloppy dog kisses from Tina.
After this experience I wondered how many people had passed Tina up because of how she acted in kennel. A lot, I am sure. Tina also happens to be black and a pit bull mix, further reducing her chances of getting adopted. If only people could see her through my eyes. (See the sweet picture of her cuddled with my cat.)
The next time you go to adopt a shelter animal please ask to meet with the dog or cat out of their kennel or cage. Ask if they have been fostered so you can get a better feel for their true personality. If you do, you just may be one of those lucky people who finds a forever friend.
Learn more at www.animalprotective.org