Joan Reynolds

Real Faith, Real Life & Real Joy

People Who Love Shelter Dogs


There is something I have noticed over the years about the way people choose a dog to join their family. There are some who prefer pedigreed animals, those who come with a long line of traits characteristic of their breed. The new owner is promised the dog’s behavior will be similar to those who have gone before, within certain limitations. They usually pay quite a lot of money for those expectations, and may be extremely disappointed if they are not fulfilled as the dog grows up.

Then there are those of us who take our kids, or ourselves, to the nearest humane shelter for abandoned animals. We may go back more than once, knowing that when we see the one that is right for us we will just know it. Having had dogs before, we may prefer a certain breed, as two good friends of mine do, and then we go to a rescue for that particular breed. At least then, we are assured of some of the characteristics we are fond of, even though the one we bring home may have been a little off the pedigree charts or even abused in some way.

For the rest of us, though, we are pretty much open to the ‘love at first sight’ philosophy. It may be a matter of the purse, as these animals have usually had their shots and even been neutered. Often I find it is a matter of conscience. These dogs are not bred for our enjoyment, but rather the products of two other dogs not very closely watched by their owners, perhaps let loose to roam the neighborhood at large. They come with a bit of a stigma as to their “parentage’ and their lineage?…well, you can pretty much forget about tracing their family tree!

On the other hand, they teach those of us who have them a great deal about keen observation, and learning to read body language. I have noticed that Gypsy, for instance, has a much greater aversion to my taking a white kitchen trash liner in or out of its container, than he ever does to the vacuum cleaner being turned on. I assume there was a very bad price to pay from a run in with some kitchen garbage in his past, one that he will never forget.

I also notice how he behaves around certain people, trying to pick up on the signals that make him feel safe, rather than nervous and fearful.I notice how he does stupid things when he is uncomfortable and trying to fit in….even though his antics usually bring him the exact opposite results and get him temporarily removed from the party. I often wonder if I do the same thing around people with whom I don’t feel I fit in? Do I tell jokes, act too loud, call attention to myself?

I believe that people who love shelter dogs can become pretty adept at reading humans as well. Perhaps because of our own wounded backgrounds, we feel an instant affinity for animals who did nothing wrong except be different than expected. I often notice that the single moms I have known almost always have a shelter dog in their family. We are often people who seem to be able to accept what  life handed us, even though it might not have been exactly what we expected. What I have noticed is that most of us have a natural tendency to love God fervently, perhaps because we feel He accepts us exactly the way we are at this moment, band-aids and all. We know He still sees the original as His pedigree and will continue to love us unconditionally and protect us until we come to  see it too…. and that’s exactly the way I feel about my Gypsy.

I may have said it before, but dog is God spelled backward,  and for some of us a constant reminder of His comforting presence in our daily lives.

P.S. Cat lovers please read comment below. It is excellent and makes the same point for those who rescue cats!

2 Comments to

“People Who Love Shelter Dogs”

  1. Avatar February 11th, 2011 at 9:13 am Sherri Robinson Says:

    I grew up a dog person, much to my mom’s dismay since she has never been an animal lover of any kind. Under divine intervention I became a cat person. My troublemaking but sweet Zola, abused, abandoned and pregnant, just showed up one day and joined our family. She didn’t even have a voice when she tried to meowed and her tail was broken. It also appeared that she also had a mouth deformity. She found in us a home, love and her meow back. She has been my closest companion and nursed me through my toughest of times. Now we are learning together to accept other abandoned and injured wild creatures that come our way to be nursed back to health, compliments of my daughter Cindy who works at an emergency vet office. As it was with my kids growing up and leaving home, it has become a great joy to nurture and care for then watch these animals survive, become healthy and be released back into the wild. I think God is proud when we are able to be released back into the world whole again after a great tragedy that he has nursed us back to health from. It is nice to know when the chips are down we have some place to go where we will receive the love and care we need to get us back on our feet.

  2. Avatar February 13th, 2011 at 1:30 pm carole keane Says:

    Interesting observation. Having had purebreds from a breeder, rescue animals from a shelter or pets someone is giving away, I too have an observation to make. No matter from whence they cometh they are all given a loving home. My purebreds which come straight from the breeder at 8 weeks old, enter your domain without any pre-conceived conceptions of what to expect. Your rescue pet has a pre-conceived idea of what to expect even if it is wrong. But due to previous conditions and situations that past experience ultimately is refleced their personality. And I find this same thing applies to people I meet in life. Can these negative traits be altered with time and love? Some can and some can’t. The difference is they know they are loved and they ascertain after time that it is a safe environment even with their liittle quirks. I’m applying this to both humans and animals.

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