Monday, September 19, 2011

"Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable-Pet" week

You might have noticed there seems to be an "ad"on the right over there. Don't worry, I haven't lost my mind thinking I'm going to get rich advertising off this little blog. That "ad" is just there for's "Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable-Pet" week. I was planning to write a version of this post next anyway so it's rather convenient timing for PetFinder to run a campaign like this.

A lot of people wouldn't want a dog like Bella - she's shy, she's fearful, she's a bit of a challenge and a whole lot of work. She has hypothyroidism. At 60 lbs, she's fairly large. She's even black. All of this puts her in the "less adoptable" category.

A lot of people probably wouldn't have wanted a dog like Beau either who only required a little bit of work, a few extra dollars a month and just a little education. But if I had to have written up an adoption notice for Beau, I would have had to disclose that he had epilepsy. Later he also went deaf but neither condition proved unmanageable.

In fact, Beau was the reason I wanted a "special needs" dog - having already had one, I knew how awesome the reward of caring for them can be.

Special needs means different things in different dogs but many people hear those words and discount the dogs without bothering to learn more. Sometimes, as in Beau's case, special needs means only an inexpensive pill twice a day to control his epilepsy. Sometimes, as in Bella's, it means a little more.

The list of traits that make an animal "less adoptable" might surprise you and there is often little reason to let that discourage you from considering a dog with them.

  • Age - Everybody loves puppies but senior dogs need love, too and have so much of it to give. They're usually trained and house-broken so you get all the benefit with almost none of the effort.
  • Color - I have never understood this but black animals are harder to adopt out. No special care needed, just an open heart to save the life of an animal that might otherwise never leave the shelter. They might even match your wardrobe. :)
  • Size - I'm a "big dog" kind of girl myself so this is another one I've never understood but I do realize not everyone has room for large dogs. If you do have room, why not consider adopting one? Large dogs, even non guard-dog breeds, tend to be intimidating enough to keep most trouble away from you while out on a walk.
  • Breed - "Ban the deed, not the breed." Certain breeds are difficult to place because of public perception, stereotypes and media hype and frenzy. Bully breeds and guard dogs languish unfairly in shelters when they would make wonderful companions in a home of their own.
  • Health - Missing limbs, diabetes, hypothyroidism... These health issues are all treatable or simply cosmetic. Dogs with these health concerns can live long happy lives and the amount of effort or expense required to manage these "problems" is often very slight.
  • Behavior - Shy dogs, dogs that don't get along with other dogs, dogs that bark. For those who don't want more than one dog anyway, why not take in a shy dog or one that wouldn't do well in a multi-dog home? We're a one-dog only home (not by MY choice but I love my husband and want to stay married) so Bella's slightly anti-social personality isn't that big an issue for us. And we're working on improving her social skills - most dogs can learn better coping behavior if only to successfully navigate the occasional trip to the vet.

Miss Dill
PetFinder is asking shelters and rescue groups to nominate their less adoptable dogs, so I'd like to offer for your consideration, a dog from North East All Retriever Rescue, one of the groups for which I volunteer.

Large, black, senior and hypothyroid, Dill is a beautiful, cuddly Retriever mix looking for her new forever home. Her health conditions are manageable and she's a love of a dog who just wants a walking companion and a place to lay her head. Please consider visiting the web site to learn more about her and how she could add to your family.

Of course, not everyone is going to be able to work with every special need but everyone can live just as easily with a black cat as with a white one. Those of us in the animal community be it bloggers, volunteers or workers, have to make an effort to educate, we need to be extolling the virtues of older dogs and FIV+ cats and explaining how easy some of these health conditions can be to manage. And those of us who do have the time and interest, those who want to bring out the best in our dogs and cats whether that means championship ribbons or a comfortable walk around the neighborhood, we can step up to the plate and help these dogs find forever homes with us.

BTW - it's also Deaf Dog Awareness week. Believe me when I tell you, deaf dogs can be great dogs. And they're not afraid of fireworks! :)


  1. Great post:)  My next Greyhound will be a 'needy' one.  Although I'm hoping that won't be for many years yet as Frankie and Beryl are only 3 1/2 and 5!  

  2. Thanks.  But aren't all Greyhounds a little "needy"? ;)  (I kid! I kid!)

    And Frankie's already a "special" guy.  I know you don't know what he is but I think a lot of people would have discounted him as a bully breed just by looking at him.  He was lucky you came along. :)

  3. Sorry - testing new disqus settings

  4. What a sweet face on Dill. Thanks for this post; I think all of these less-adoptable tales have really started to get people thinking...and hopefully, acting. 

  5. Hi Elizabeth,
    Thanks for visiting.  Dill really is such a sweetheart. I have to admit, I have a particular soft-spot for senior dogs and can't believe someone could possibly have let her go.  She's going to make some lucky person a wonderful companion.

    I do hope you're right about making people think.  I was really encouraged to see the number of posts from folks outside of the 'usual' animal blogging community taking part in this initiative.