When you adopt, you’ll change the life of an animal who needs you – and your own life.
There’s no question that living with a companion animal (or two, three or four) has many benefits. You feel good caring for another creature, going for walks and adventures helps you get more exercise and you learn the importance of discipline and routine. A pet’s “live in the moment” view of life may help you focus on the here and now, and reduce time spent worrying about things you can’t control. And above all, they make you laugh. A lot.
It’s true that money can’t buy love. But you can find love at your local animal shelter or rescue organization, where you’ll find all sorts of dogs and cats, and even rabbits, reptiles and birds. When you adopt, you’ll quickly discover that as you’re acclimating your pet to your home, you’re experiencing some significant self-improvement moments too.
A Sense of Purpose
There’s a lot in the world that you cannot solve. But you can make it an incredible place for one soul. You can take one animal away from a life of neglect and uncertainty, and offer a new one that’s full of safety, cozy beds, cuddles and tasty snacks. Adopted animals, especially those with difficult backgrounds, know that they’ve been rescued, and they understand that you are the one who saved them. You may not be able to change the entire world, but you can change it for your pet, and it will be huge for them.
Selecting the perfect pet is not a quick process. Unlike a handbag, where you can shop for a certain color and size and be guaranteed to find the perfect design, animals are unique individuals with their own strengths and flaws. Some pets are extremely active and are great workout buddies, while some just want to nap in a sunny spot or on the sofa. What your household is like is important, including the number of people and their ages, backyard space, and at-home time. The shelter staff will ask what’s important to you and make recommendations. It’s a good time for you to reflect on everyday aspects of your life – and accept them for the good of your new furry friend.
Your pet has probably been through some level of trauma – they may have been lost, abandoned, or their previous person could no longer care for them. It’s a lot for them to process, especially because they don’t understand what’s happened to them. Looking at the world through their eyes can result in tremendous personal growth for you, as you learn to view things differently and respond in ways that may not be your normal reaction. You could very well find it easier to understand perspectives of others around you, strengthening your relationships with friends, family and coworkers.
If you’ve adopted a shy pet, or one who needs time to learn about people and being in a home, you will no doubt adjust your own behaviors to make them more comfortable. You may shout less, hold frustration in check so as not to frighten them, or cut on down frenetic movements. By behaving in ways that are best for your pet, you may experience personal growth that is best for you as well.
Everything in your pet’s life will be unfamiliar when you bring him home. Your house, neighborhood, sounds, food, schedule, and even YOU are all new. It will take a while – weeks and perhaps months – to settle into the rhythms of your life. This is a terrific and important time to work on your patience levels. Mistakes will be made by both you and your pet, and how you respond affects how quickly s/he will settle in and come to trust you. It’s easy to get upset about a puddle on the floor, but it’s more productive to direct positive energy toward avoiding it in the future.
People who adopt from shelters and rescue organizations often stay in touch. You could very well find yourself making new friends as you provide updates on your pet. The shelter’s Facebook page, fundraising events, volunteering and walks through the neighborhood help form new relationships with people who care about animals just as much as you do.
Here are some sobering statistics from the Humane Society of the United States: 6-8 million pets enter shelters every year. And every year, more than 3 million are euthanized. You can be part of changing those numbers. Currently, only 43% of household pets in the US come from shelters. While this percentage has increased over time, it’s easy to see that the euthanasia of adoptable pets can be eliminated simply through a shift in philosophy. Adopting from a shelter or rescue saves two lives – the animal you adopt, and the one who takes its place.
When you adopt, you’ll change the life of an animal who needs you – and you’ll change your own life. You’ll have a new buddy who is so grateful for what you’ve done. You’ll have new perspectives, new experiences. And most of all, you’ll gain an awful lot of joy.