Last week, I celebrated Willow’s adoptiversary. I adopted her three years ago, and it was easily one of the best decisions I’ve made. She’s the first dog I’ve ever adopted, and the reason why I’m a big proponent of “Adopt, Don’t Shop.”
In April of my senior year of college, I came home the weekend before finals to put my childhood dog down. He had been really sick, and my parents had done everything they could to help him get better. Nothing was working, and in the course of just a couple weeks, he couldn’t walk.
I remember walking into the vet carrying Bandit and crying my eyes out as I passed a little boy with his mom who was about to adopt a puppy. Heartbreaking. I had never had to put an animal down before, but I was glad that he would be out of pain, and that I’d be there with him the whole time. If you’re an animal person, losing a pet is always hard. For me the hardest part is not having their companionship and not having them need you — getting up in the morning and not having a dog to feed and let out, or getting home and not being greeted by a little friend who’s excited to see you. There’s just a blank space where they used to be.
ADOPT, DON’T SHOP: OUR ADOPTION STORY
My vet has an adoption center in the waiting area. And for the next few months, I would drop by periodically to visit the puppies. The animals there have all kinds of stories. Some of them appeared in a vet’s backyard, some of them were found wandering, and never reunited with their owner. Willow and her sister, I’ve been told, were dumped behind a grocery store.
My mom called me one day to say that the vet was having an adoption event. She had found this tiny little Chihuahua (my mom already has one, so she’s partial to them) and wanted me to come see it. He was a cute lil guy. I think he only weighed two pounds, but then I saw Willow. She had an Aussie look to her. One blue eye, one brown. She was about 5 months old, and the only dog not going crazy because of all the activity . She never barked, got along with the other dogs, but seemed most content with human companionship. When I left, I knew wanted her, but I wanted to be sure.
For the next week, I visited her every day. I’d hang out with the volunteers and play with her, watch how she played with other dogs, and observed some of her quirks, like laying on potted plants. One day I came in, and my mom’s friend who volunteers there came up to me and said, “hey, I don’t think I’m supposed to tell you this, but they’re taking the dog you like to an adoption event today — it’s not in the best part of town.” I asked the receptionist if they would be taking her and she said yes. At this point, I had been there every day for a week. I asked her if I turned in an application right then if she would promise to not take my dog to the adoption event. I wanted her. She said yes.
A few days later, I picked Willow up. Spayed, updated shots, microchipped. I think for everything, including her, it was about $120. It was an easy transition, honestly. She was a puppy still, but not a baby. She was already potty trained, and in the first week of having her, she could sit, lay down, shake, and high-five, which I fully acknowledge may be to the credit of a volunteer, but it was still a win for me.
ABOUT WILLOW + MY THOUGHTS
Willow is easily the best behaved dog I’ve had. She sleeps with me, we go on trips, we go to brunch with the girls, we run errands, we go shopping, she’s even been grocery shopping with me. Hey, ask for forgiveness, not permission right? But we can get away with it, because she’s small and not a bother — and she doesn’t have accidents. We’ve even mastered commands like hug and kiss. She’s no longer crated and has free reign of the house. I’ve never had a dog that was able to be a companion like this. There’s nothing better.
Let me just say, the dogs we had growing up were purebred, pedigrees and all. Even setting aside all of the animal cruelty that we see online — which I find deeply upsetting, by the way — I believe in adopting because of the experience I’ve had. Our purebreds were not as well behaved, not as loving, and much harder to socialize. Growing up, we saw a cute dog and said, “I want that one!” and we got it. I’m really glad that I took the time to get to know Willow’s personality before I adopted her. I definitely think that was the right move. She’s a great dog, and part of me feels like that’s because she knows the difference between the way she’s been treated and the home she’s in now. There are a million reasons why I’m a big supporter of #AdoptDon’tShop, but Willow’s number one.
Suspected Breed: Australian Shepherd/Papillon mix
Weight: 20 lbs.
Defining characteristic: Heterochromia. I have two different color eyes: light blue and dark brown
Likes: Hugs and kisses, rawhides, sleeping up against Mom’s legs, fluffy pillows and blankets, playdates with my boyfriend Harley, lizard watching
Dislikes: Being crated, people blowing on me… I will slap you (true story)
To find adoptable dogs at your local shelter, click here.