As a society we love dogs. And no wonder, they provide us with companionship, unconditional love, and, well, those eyes. A look both eager and soulful that can turn a bad day into a good one.
Dogs make our lives better. In simple ways such as by greeting us when arrive home in the evening with a joyful exuberance that is usually only reserved for the most famous celebrities. And in some much more profound ways such as therapy dogs who provide connection and joy for people recovering from illness or in long term care, guide dogs who increase mobility and access for the visually impaired and police dogs can save the day locating disaster victims, suspects, drugs, bombs and more.
My dog Hope is exceptional. She is exceptional in that extraordinarily, ordinary way that each and every dog is exceptional (if you have a dog you'll know exactly what I mean). She makes our family whole and I can't imagine how unfinished my life would have been had she not entered it.
I adopted Hope 14 years ago. I was actually given her for free because she was going to be euthanized that day due to a kennel cough she had contracted. Her leg had already been shaved. All I know about her is that her "family" had surrendered to the shelter.
I can speculate about her background. Was she purchased on impulse? It's likely. Did she come from a backyard breeder who didn't vet buyers and explain to them the needs of a young, energetic black lab puppy? It's very possible. Did her first family not provide her with the kind of socialization and exercise she required because they had acted on impulse and weren't prepared for the important needs of a puppy? It's very probable considering that the pads of her feet had no calluses on them even though she was over a year old.
This week the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) launched our Choose Adoption ribbon program designed to elevate the concept of animal adoption across the country. By tying a teal Choose Adoption ribbon on your dog's leash or collar you are identifying them as an adopted animal and raising awareness about the value of giving a home to a shelter dog.
Right now there are thousands of wonderful animals in shelters and rescues waiting for the right person to adopt them. More disturbingly, there are thousands more dogs being raised in puppy mills. A puppy mill refers to a high-volume, sub-standard dog breeding operation that sells dogs to unsuspecting buyers, directly or indirectly. Dogs in puppy mills often receive substandard health care and live in poor conditions. They are subject to breeding practices that can lead to genetic defects and hereditary disorders which can cause a dog a lifetime of pain and will cost hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars in veterinary care. Since dog breeders in Canada are not obliged to register no one knows how many puppy mills there are. A conservative estimate would put the number in the hundreds.
Buying a dog can be as easy as the click of the mouse. Choose Adoption ribbons are meant to increase the public visibility of adopted animals and to help create an adopted animal community in Canada. Adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue group helps save lives, and guarantees you aren't unknowingly buying from a cruel puppy mill.
I am looking forward to the day when I go to my neighbourhood dog park soon and see every dog wearing a teal Choose Adoption ribbon.