Adopting a shelter dog is always a good choice

05 April 2015

Adopting a shelter dog is always a good choice

By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Vice President

My husband David and I are proud owners of shelter dogs. We have always adopted shelter dogs as a matter of choice, pride and civic responsibility to do our part for the thousands of homeless animals that pass through the shelter system. Our shelter dogs have never disappointed us. They were all mutts: true individuals, clever and affectionate. They enriched our lives. We were lucky to have them.

Our experience is not unique, yet some folks are reticent about adopting shelter dogs. They are concerned the dogs are damaged by their past experience or that they wouldn’t be in the shelter if they were good dogs.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, most animals end up in shelters through no fault of their own.

The Gordon family household has always included dogs – big dogs, multiple dogs, older dogs, hard to place dogs such as shepherds, bully breeds, rottie crosses and, always, rescue dogs.

“It’s a tradition in our family,” says Laura Gordon. “We adopt the dogs other people overlook because of their size or their breed, last chance dogs, dogs that are euthanized in higher numbers in public, open-admission shelters. We have never had a single problem with any of them. In fact, we always say each dog is the best dog we ever had.”

As their three rescue dogs passed on after moving to Aiken 20 years ago, the Gordons began adopting from local shelters. First there was the beloved Beau, a massive, striking tri-colored Akita who, according to Laura, would have been a lap dog if anyone in the family had had a big enough lap.

Now there is Laya, a lumbering black and tan sweetheart of a Rottie-cross that Laura adopted virtually sight-unseen from the Aiken County Animal Shelter at the urgent bequest of Jennifer Miller, President of FOTAS.

“Laya was a favorite of staff,” says Laura, “but she had been at the shelter for too long and was days from being euthanized. I had just lost one of our dogs, and Jennifer called and said to me, ‘You know you’re going to get another dog, and it ought to be this one. You’ll love her.’ She was right. I did, and I do.”

After Laya came Oscar, a yellow lab cross and a canine love machine, brought home from the County shelter by daughter Allison before she left for school. “Oscar adores people,” says Laura, “he loves everyone, and everyone loves Oscar. Everyone. No exceptions.”

And finally there’s Storm, rescued by Jonathan from the County shelter as a puppy when he was 6 months old. The love of Jonathan’s life and 78 pounds of energy, goodwill and unwavering affection, Storm even won over Jerry, who had been wary of “bully” breeds.

“I have never had a single problem with any of our dogs,” says Laura, “not individually or as a pack. Sure, I spend extra time with them when they first come, figure them out, watch them with the other dogs, especially around food. I establish the rules and the pecking order right off, like the senior dog is the alpha when it comes to feeding and going through doors. All it takes is patience and a little common sense.”

So true. If you are thinking about adopting an older dog, a bully breed, a 2nd or a 3rd dog, please don’t hesitate. It can and will work out. We will help you through it, if necessary.

Their lives are in our hands.


DIESEL — American Bulldog — Male — 2 1/2 years old, 57 lbs —$35 black dogs thru April 30)

GREMLIN — Domestic Short Hair—Female — 1 year old, 6 lbs — $15  (Black cats  thru April 30)