I haven’t always been an animal rescue advocate. Seven years ago, I guess you could say I didn’t even think about local shelters or rescues at all. In my mind, you didn’t think to go to a shelter or rescue to adopt your pet, you instead went to a local breeder or pet shop, or picked up a puppy from a family friend who bred their own pet.
I’m not proud of my former assumptions and incorrect viewpoints on animal rescue, shelters and adoption – because it is the complete opposite of my current beliefs. So, I am now a proud rescue mom, SPCA volunteer, #adoptdontshop advocate, cruelty-free product lover – and more. I wanted to use my first blog post as an opportunity to not only introduce myself but to share the honest story of how I came to be a part of the rescue world (even if only a small part), and, basically, obsessed with animal rescue.
When I turned 21 and moved out on my own, I knew it was time to get a dog. I grew up surrounded by dogs and I considered dogs to be part of the family – so my next step into adulthood was adding a furry friend to my own family. I then did what any naive 21 year old would do and went to my local pet shop to check out their available puppies. I should’ve seen the red flags immediately – the pet shop didn’t care about where I lived (if I had a fenced in yard, if my apartment complex was pet-friendly, etc.), my schedule (because we all know puppies can’t be left at home for eight hours while at work) or my puppy preparedness, as we’ll call it (did I plan to crate train, did I have a vet in mind, etc). The pet shop didn’t care about any of this – instead, they cared about my money and how much I could put down for a deposit.
I didn’t run out the door, as I should have. I tried everything I could to come up with the $1,000+ deposit for an adorable beagle my heart was set on. But, being 21 and working in retail, I couldn’t swing it so I was denied – and my heart was broken. I went home, moped around for a couple of days, then opened up my laptop and began searching for another dog. That’s when I stumbled upon AdoptAPet.com – and I guess you can say that was the pivotal moment when everything changed!
While there wasn’t a magical “aha” moment where I immediately realized the difference between going to the pet shop and checking out AdoptAPet.com, I realized there were pages and pages of adoptable puppies – all of which I’d love to have in my family. But they weren’t in a pet store – they were at the animal shelters and rescues that I previously passed over because, well, I didn’t think that’s where you went to get your family pet. I spent hours scrolling through AdoptAPet.com and wondering to myself, “Why didn’t I look for a dog here in the first place?”
In my endless scrolling, I saw her – Skittles. An 11 week old “unknown mix” puppy with black speckles and big ears. This was my dog. Over the next week, I went through the extensive adoption process including personal references, apartment references and vetting and an interview with Skittles foster mom – all steps that the pet shop I visited previously didn’t even consider. All steps that were for the safety and betterment of Skittles, and to ensure she was placed in the perfect home. And, on August 11, 2012, I brought home Skittles, now Roxanne. Thanks to Roxanne, the adoption process and my research into AdoptAPet.com, my life and thoughts on animal rescue changed forever.
Looking back now, I’m embarrassed about my trip to the pet store because I am now aware of puppy mills and the horrible conditions animals live in, when all you see is the cute puppy in the pet store window. I won’t go into too much detail about pet stores and puppy mills just yet, but check out this article by The Dodo for some background. I’m glad to share that within one year, that pet shop I visited closed for good.
Since that August day, my dog obsession has grown exponentially. Over the past 6+ years, I’ve started volunteering at my local SPCA as a “dog butler,” interacting with the adoptable dogs, bringing them out in the yard for exercise and potty breaks – and just giving them all the love they deserve. Previously, I volunteered at my local humane society as a community ambassador, where I attended events promoting the humane society’s mission, share adoptable animals and spread the #adoptdontshop message. I’ve also changed all my beauty and household products to cruelty free (let’s end animal testing!), started an Instagram just for Roxanne – @lifewiththedoodle – and encouraged family and friends to check out their local rescues and shelters when looking to adopt a furry friend.
I’ve quickly realized that the rescue community is just that – a community. I myself am just on the outskirts of it, volunteering as much as my hectic schedule allows, sharing adoptable dogs on my Instagram and Twitter etc. It’s a wonderful community to be a part of, but it can be equally heartbreaking. Since adopting Roxanne, I’ve opened my eyes to the dire need for rescue across the country – and throughout the world. I’ve read about overpopulation and the euthanization of pets in shelters due to lack of space. I’ve sat on my phone scrolling through Rescue + Freedom Project’s social pages for hours, learning about animal testing and the stomach-turning tests that are done on animals for human’s beauty products. I’ve barely dipped my toes in the water but even I can see there is a need to continue spreading awareness.
So, in this blog I’ll be sharing all things animal rescue, dogs and my life as a proud dog mom. Be on the lookout for rants and raves about all the things I love – and hope you do too! Everything from cruelty-free product recommendations to tips for being the best pet parent you can be and reasons to #adoptdontshop.
Now I’ll preface all of this by saying I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. I still Google brands while I’m walking down the Target beauty aisle to see if a company tests on animals, or if they’re owned by a company who tests on animals (I’ve learned there is a difference). I’m still learning about animal rescue, and only get to see the bare minimum of it when I volunteer on the weekends, and have the upmost respect for those who work in rescue full time. And let’s be honest, it’s been 5+ years since I’ve had to train a puppy (and I was so fortunate with Roxanne, as she was the least rambunctious/mischievous puppy ever) – so I’ll only share what I’ve personally experienced, seen or heard. Just wait until the day when I rescue my next puppy and I’ll be sure to document all the highs and lows!
Check out my About page to learn more about me, Roxanne and the origin of The Doodle Diaries – as I’m sure you’re wondering where that name comes from. I’m excited to share my life as a dog mom with you, and have you follow along my life with The Doodle!