Pet Adoption: Dogs Choose Their Owners, Don’t They?

Adopting a pet from a shelter is a wonderful philanthropic act, but it works both ways: most dogs choose their owners, too, don’t they? (It’s nice that some of them humor us into believing we’re the deciders, though!)

Today’s pet adoption story comes from Mari Hirabayashi, Jolkona’s events co-director and the author of our introduction letter for this month’s Give Together campaign for animals.

Mari writes: Mari_Tahi

My husband Simon and I had been toying with the idea of adopting a dog for months. We would look at pictures online, research what kind of dog we wanted, the characteristics of various dogs — and then end the conversation. Our friends encouraged us to go to the Humane Society and only look, just look, not adopt. Yes, we thought! Agreed! It will be easy to just “look” and not bring home a dog.

On the day before Halloween, Simon and I sat in the parking lot of the Seattle Humane Society and made an agreement that we would only look. I had never been to the Humane Society before and was impressed by the number of volunteers: all ages and ethnicities, united purely by their love of animals. Every volunteer treated us as though we had committed to adopting an animal. “Oh no, we’re just looking,” we kept telling them. We filled out the paperwork and received a lot of advice about taking a new dog home. Next, we began looking at all of the dogs in their pens. It is just heartbreaking. So many pit bulls and older dogs that have an air of loneliness surrounding them. My heart began to ache over and over again.

I peeked into a pen and saw a small, black puppy sleeping on a mat. The name on his listing was “Walter.” After I made a round looking at the rest of the dogs, I came back to Walter and this time, he was standing up at the window. With his front paws on the glass, he looked and looked at me, without blinking for what seemed like years. It was as if I knew him, as if he knew me. I quickly ran to get a volunteer so we could meet Walter.

At the “Getting to Know You” area, we played and played with the puppy. He is part Labrador and Dachshund with a huge personality! We learned that Walter was actually named Patrick and just hours before, his brother (Walter) was adopted. Walter, Patrick and their sister Sarah were all left in a bag on the side of the road in Graham. This story made me feel even more compelled to adopt him. My husband, staying true to our agreement, wasn’t sure if we should take him home. (At this point, our story changes. My husband says I “insisted” that we bring him home. I remember this situation very differently: Simon, my husband played and played with Patrick. They were in love with each other!) In the end, we brought this tiny 7-pound puppy home and he became our first little one.

Patrick was quickly renamed Tahi, which means One in Maori, a nod to my husband’s New Zealand ancestry. When adopting Tahi from the Humane Society the total cost was about $250. This fee included the adoption with all of Tahi’s shots, the first vet visit free, a leash, collar and 6 weeks of puppy class, which I renamed puppy circus. The classes were more for the owners than the dogs, but still good fun.

Tahi is now over 2 years old and still has a huge personality. We had a baby last year, so Tahi isn’t our only “one” anymore — but the two creatures adore each other and our family is full of playfulness and activity!


We’d love to hear your pet adoption experiences, too! Share them in the Comments section, on Facebook and Twitter (#GiveTogether #Animals).

While waiting for tomorrow’s story, check out our previous posts about this month’s Give Together projects for Animals: Reading With Rover’s therapy dogs, the Snow Leopard Trust’s big cats, and the Woodland Park Zoo’s baby giraffe. For just $10/month, you can join a growing community making a big difference — and will receive an impact report within weeks, showing our collective giving at work. Every little bit counts, and helps.

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