Inspirational

How two shelter dogs stole my heart

There is one thing in life that will never disappoint you and that’s a dog.

Throughout my life I’ve  had my fair share of hardships, and in 2016 I was going through a particularly difficult time and felt hopeless. A large gentle Staffy mix and a tiny, but fierce Pomeranian both entered my life when I was at a low. Not once have my husband and I ever regretted adopting them. Through all the chaos in my life, both my dogs have calmed me, kept me grounded and always, always put a smile on my face even when I don’t even feel like smiling. Pets show you love, even when you don’t deserve it.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself” Josh Billings

Why I chose to adopt shelter dogs

People sometimes question why i didn’t start fresh and get a puppy who had no prior owner or they are curious to know why I chose to adopt a dog, with no known history. I have always loved dogs, in fact I’ve always loved all animals and after seeing first hand the reality of puppy mills, I knew that I would never purchase a puppy from a commercial store.

When I volunteered at the Sydney Dogs and Cats Home my bond with abandoned and unloved dogs only grew stronger. It was sad seeing all of these beautiful healthy dogs who had been ‘dumped’ for no good reason other than their owners had grown tired of them. I told myself that once I bought a house with a yard, the first thing I would do is adopt a dog from the Shelter. So, in April 2016 I moved into my new home and the next day, my husband and I drove to Renbury Shelter and we adopted Ragnar and Zeus.

The Sad Reality of Shelters

I remember walking into the shelter and just seeing dog after dog, in their cage looking sad. Most were slumped in the corner with their heads down. It really broke my heart! At that moment I was tempted to take them all home, but I knew I couldn’t, so 2 dogs it was going to be.

Luckily Renbury is a no kill shelter, meaning the dogs could find a forever loving home without a time limit. If you’ve never been to a kill shelter, it’s a horrible experience. There are rows and rows of dogs with signs attached to their cages stating their euthanization date if they are not adopted in time. As far as I could tell, these dogs were on death row simply because of overcrowding. They could have been a loving companion if the right owner had found them in time.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s so important not to be impulsive when looking to adopt. It is a big decision that involves a lot of commitment. Do your research first, and make sure your lifestyle fits the breed of dog you want to adopt. People who don’t do their research often realise later on that their dog does not suit their lifestyle and that’s why the shelter is full of abandoned animals.

The difficult choice

I knew I wanted a small dog, such as a Pomeranian because my parents owned one and I loved her to bits before she went to doggy heaven a year prior. As I was walking down the shelter corridors, I saw a light brown/white Pomeranian called Zeus. I instantly fell in love! He was the only dog that didn’t look distressed or sad, he was just sitting down with his paws crossed, panting and smiling. My heart melted and I quickly made the commitment of adopting him.

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Next was finding dog number 2.

To be honest, I wasn’t looking for a big dog because I’ve always been exposed to small dogs my whole life, so I was focused on getting a second Pomeranian. It was my husband that chose dog number 2. our staffy cross named Ragnar.

My husband had found Ragnar while I was getting to know Zeus and told me we needed to adopt Ragnar. At first I was a bit hesitant, but as soon as Ragnar was let out of his cage he whimpered and his tail started wagging like crazy. Ragnar was so excited and overjoyed that he tried to jump into my husband’s lap! That just sealed the deal, I could see this big dog was just a gentle boofhead desperate to be loved.

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Bringing them home

When I walked into the shelter, I thought how on earth am i going to choose 2 dogs to take home? and I think both dogs chose us. They were both found as strays, but you could tell they had been neglected. Ragnar was a little fearful of males and wouldn’t come inside our home. I get the feeling he was always left outside and never experienced the warmth of human companionship. While, Zeus showed signs of anxiety as he would constantly dig holes everywhere.

That all changed as time went on and both dogs adjusted to their new surroundings. Ragnar and Zeus have became best friends and inseparable. Two years later they are both happy and healthy dogs loving life and always going on adventures!

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I salute animal lovers who are doing their part to move pets out of shelters and into happy forever homes. Not only does adopting save an animal’s life, but it also improves your health and happiness in a myriad of ways. Don’t believe me? Numerous studies have shown that owning a dog benefits a person’s physical and mental wellbeing.

The Psychological benefits of owning a dog

Here are 3 ways my two dogs made life so much better and what they have taught me:

1. Make your time count

I spent a lot of time trying to be somewhere else- in another job, another place, another country. Sometimes when you are focused on ‘escaping’ your current situation you fail to realise that you are missing out on life. I believe we all have enough time for the things that are important to us. If it’s really that important we will make the time. 

Don’t sleepwalk through life. It’s good looking ahead and having a vision of where you want to be and the person you want to become, but don’t lose sight of the present and where you are now. Whenever my dogs rush to the front door full of happiness after I get in from a long day at work, I’m reminded to enjoy the present and where I am in life. 

You may not like where you are, but where you are standing right now is what matters. Continue having dreams and goals, but learn to appreciate the present moment and don’t let life slip you by. 

2. Choose happiness, always.

Life goes by so fast and the present time is all we have, so choose to be happy. Let go of holding onto anger, regrets, guilt etc. As the saying goes “Don’t wait until the future to be happy, because it’s not a destination”. The future is not guaranteed to anyone, all we have is now. Begin to embrace it, rewire your brain to think positive and embrace living a happy life. My dogs are always happy, even when the weather is nasty or I reprimand them for doing something naughty (such as ripping the washing off the line), their tails never stop wagging and their faces never stop smiling. It is the little things in life that matter most and dogs understand this more than humans.

3. Believe in miracles

My dogs taught me to always believe in hope. I got over the dark time in my life through the help of the unconditional love of my two beautiful dogs. Everyday with them makes my heart glow. Taking them hiking with me and seeing their adorable faces break into a smile as they take in all their surroundings is pure joy.

I know my dogs won’t be with me forever and that’s just a fact of life unfortunately, but both have impacted my life in a way no one can really understand. My furry friends have taught me to be in the present, to be compassionate and that there is always hope no matter what you are going through, even though it might not feel like there is.

The relationship I have with my dogs is so enriching and for as long as they live, I will always provide them with a loving forever home.

Thank you my Ragnar and Zeus.

S&V XO

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