This weekend there has been lots of publicity here in Atlanta about adopting dogs and cats from our local shelters. The incentives involved waiving adoption fees and, of course, most of the photos showed celebrities cuddling adorable puppies. What’s not to love?
I’m a big fan of adopting animals. I’ve almost always had a dog in my home. I grew up with dogs and cats co-existing happily together. Most of my adult life I’ve had dogs and cats – one or two of each – as pets. Right now, I have 2 dogs.
Miles is a golden retriever mix. I adopted him 10 years ago. My vet told me he was probably around 3 years old when I brought home. He has been the most wonderful companion. When I tell people he’s about 14 years old they’re hard pressed to believe me because he’s so active.
Josie is my other dog. Anyone who has ever called me knows about Josie. She always barks when the phone rings. So, I apologize for the barking and tell the caller – that’s my dog, Josie, saying hello. Josie is a pure-bred Australian cattle dog. She’s full of energy and super smart. She may be the reason that Miles is doing so well. She gets him up and keeps him moving. Josie was originally my son’s dog.
He bought Josie and had her with him in California for a few years before he joined the Navy. When he decided to enlist, he asked me if I would take care of his dog for him while he was in the service. What could I say but, yes.
Josie came to live with me and stayed. My son is now out of the Navy. I just couldn’t part with Josie, she’s part of my family.
Reasons to Adopt
I’m telling you about these dogs because I believe having an animal in your home (in your life) adds something special.
Animals require you to think outside of yourself. They, of course, need food, shelter, exercise and love. They give you unconditional love and understanding in return. It doesn’t matter if you have cats or dogs – just one animal or a few. They are always happy to see you when you get home. They never argue and are always there to listen to whatever problem you want to talk about.
Another benefit to caring for an animal is reduced stress. Research shows that gently stroking a dog or cat helps to calm you.
Having said all this, owning a pet is a responsibility. There’s training involved. You can only be away from home for a certain number of hours. Dogs rely on you, as the owner, to take them out and walk them or let them into the yard. I often organize my day around when I must be back home to let my dogs out.
Want to help?
If now is not the right time for you to have a pet, there are other ways to help.
Here are some things to donate:
Sheets and towels
Food and water bowls
Dog and cat food: adult and puppy or kitten
What about your time?
Consider donating your time. Quite often shelters need people to play with the animals, walk the dogs, and just give these cats and dogs a little loving.
Some schools have programs where the children go into the shelters and practice reading to the dogs and cats. This is a win/win. The dogs and cats get a little loving, the children get to practice their reading in front of a non-judgmental audience. The dog or cat will not care how slowly the child reads or if they have mis-pronounced a word.
Organize for a pet
Owning a pet, for me is a special privilege. I adore my dogs and go to great lengths to make sure they are happy and healthy. Having an animal in your home is a long-term (lifetime) commitment. Before you go and adopt that really sweet, cuddly and adorable puppy or kitten think about the changes you’ll want to make in the way you organize your home and your time.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you want to talk through some of the changes to make or reorganizing to do before adopting a pet.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer, Residential Organizing Specialist, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC, based in Atlanta, Georgia. An accomplished speaker and author of four books she teaches professionals and working parents how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their busy lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing in metropolitan Atlanta and in working with people challenged by ADD, Hoarding, and chronic disorganization.