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Adopting a dog from a shelter is good for the dog, but it's also good for you.  Dogs are social animals that will keep you company, even if you're just watching TV, reading a book or checking your email.  They help relieve stress and lower your risk of heart problems.  And they offer unconditional love.  It's one of the best things you can do for yourself - and your new best friend!


The ASPCA has renamed this month “DOG-tober” because it is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. There are lots of good reasons to make a shelter dog a part of your family.

To begin with, you will be saving a life. Thousands of adoptable animals never have a chance for a new home because there are too many of them, and too few of us who consider adoption when we decide to get a pet. Plus, when you adopt a shelter dog, you make space at the shelter for another pet to get its shot at finding a new home.

The chances are good that you can find a healthy, happy pet at a shelter. Most animals are homeless not because of something they did wrong but because of a human issue, like the loss of a job, or a divorce, even moving to a new place. If you adopt an adult animal, there’s a possibility it has already been housebroken, even had some training. Plus some extras might be included in the adoption fee, such as first vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and microchipping.

Often an adopter gets an emotional boost when taking home a shelter dog. They feel a sense of purpose, and companionship, knowing they are helping an animal in need and getting a new best friend in the bargain.

After you adopt your new dog, you can post some great pictures, get lots of “likes”, and take credit for making life better for your new pet. You get the applause, and it will encourage others to do the same.

The third Saturday in October is Sweetest Day, supposedly started in Cleveland, Ohio by a candy maker who wanted to bring happiness to orphans and others who were forgotten. Now it’s a day to spend doing good deeds and kind things for people you know, but maybe – just maybe – a good way to celebrate this year would be to visit your local shelter and give a homeless pet a chance at a sweet new life.

I have heard it said that saving one dog won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that dog – and probably for you as well, when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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