I’ve changed a lot since I first brought Agatha and Christie home from the Philadelphia SPCA in 1991.
Yes, I’m fatter and older. But not just that.
I’ve learned so much about building a relationship with my dog. It’s made living with dogs one of the most satisfying aspects of my life.
But the reason I’ve changed has been because our culture is changing.
Adopting a Dog in 1991
Adopting a dog from a shelter was a whole different world just twenty short years ago. Here are just a few of the things I remember:
- I never met an adoption counselor. Picking out a dog meant having an animal control officer taking you through rows and rows of kennels filled with stressed, barking dogs.
- There was no such thing as a no-kill shelter.
- Dogs and cats were not spayed or neutered if they were younger than six months old. That meant that anyone adopting a puppy or kitten would have to schedule surgery for their pet months after adopting him. And, if they didn’t…
I also remember when the only management tool for a dog who pulled on leash was a choke collar. When a trainer we met recommended a head halter to control Christie’s pulling, we had to go to the University of Pennsylvania vet school to buy one. They simply weren’t available in a pet supply store.
Adopting a Dog in 2012
When I adopted Shadow from the Tompkins County SPCA in 2008, it was in an entirely new world.
Yes, the SPCA had attractive apartments in their adoption center that kept the dogs calmer and made them more attractive to potential adopters. And yes, they had volunteers who could answer questions about the dogs. But the biggest change? The Tompkins County SPCA was a no-kill, open admission shelter—the first in the nation.
And that big choice allowed me to find Shadow.
At eight years old, the black dog had some strikes against her. In a regular shelter, she probably wouldn’t have lived long. But being committed to giving all animals in their care the best shot at a forever home meant that just being old, or being a less adoptable color of dog didn’t matter. Shadow had time to wait for us to find her.
The SPCA of Tompkins County Board of Directors resolved to become a no-kill facility in 1999. In 2001 they implemented their plan. Today, their guidelines for becoming a no-kill facility are widely available and being implemented all over their world.
Bring It Home, Chérie
Twenty years ago, a dog like Chèrie would not have been considered adoptable.
- She has an old injury that was not treated leaving her with a pronounced limp.
- She was too fearful to approach anyone easily and cowered at ordinary household noises.
- She had an unattractive skin condition.
Today, the Tompkins County SPCA has given her a chance for a great life by sending her to us to foster and committing to her support until she could be adopted.
What do you think? Does she look adoptable to you?