National Dog Day is August 26,2009. It is a day dedicated to celebrating “The Dog.” It honors all dogs: sheltered, rescued, family, and working dogs of all breeds. However, one hopes that all people of the world will be moved to rescue dogs in need on National Dog Day.
A year and a half ago, I adopted a rescued dog. Her name is Bella aka Belly Button, Wolfen, and Girl. Now, we’re just two girls, hanging out. Bella was a specific type of rescue dog sometimes labeled a “less adoptable” or an “undesirable.” But she isn’t any of those things. She truly is a Girl’s Best Friend.
So, in honor of this year’s upcoming National Dog Day, I send her touching story and my heart out to all the homeless, abused, and sheltered dogs across the world and, in particular, to the ones wearing Bella’s old label. They each have a story to tell as touching as Bella’s only it cannot be read on the Internet or heard by the human ear. Yet, there is still a way for you to hear it. Just sit back and think of the one time in your life that you were hurt the most and I mean really hurt. Then, close your eyes and listen. Helpless dogs need you to listen, not only on National Dog Day, but 365 days a year. Listen with your eyes closed and your heart open. And someday, maybe this National Dog Day, your heart may lead you to them.
Bella’s Background Story
On a frigid November evening in 2006, Bella’s black sunken body was discovered on a dank cellar floor by Humane Society rescuers. Skin draped over her protruding ribs like a bloodhound’s jowls. Her once pink lips were pale grey and shriveled by dehydration. In place of a cold, wet, bulbous nose clusters of plastery cracks bled. A rescuer lifted Bella’s eyelid and scanned the exposed orb by penlight. He gazed into an abyss. No longer did vibrant chocolate brown glow; its sparkle was extinguished. Two heavy metal shelf brackets were duct-taped to Bella’s front leg. Straddled with this albatross, she was stuck in one spot, unable to even crawl.
A heathen’s kick had propelled little Bella’s puppy dog body down those treacherous cellar stairs. Once her leg snapped like a breadstick, Bella was left for dead.
The rescuers rushed her to the ASPCA hospital. The veterinarian deduced from her withered body that she had suffered in that cellar for about a month. Now, just shy of a year old, Bella was comatose and minutes from death’s embrace. The medical staff worked rabidly to save her precious life. Soon afterward, they implanted a metal plate in her broken leg. Bella spent three long months in the hospital, recuperating. A shell of the dog she once was, scarred, scrawny, lame, and frightened, Bella was released to the Adoption Center.
I visited the ASPCA Adoption Center one day, gung-ho to get a dog. All the dogs were so cute but something stopped me from taking one home. I could not understand it. I just felt, “Wait.” For two weeks, I did not return to the shelter even though I still wanted a dog. Then, I woke up one morning and my first thought was, “Go to the shelter.” It was not National Dog Day; it was just a plain old, cold February day.
My local shelter is divided into two sections: Downstairs (desirable dogs) and Upstairs (less desirable dogs). I had my eye on a beautiful, healthy downstairs dog that could jump like it was spring-loaded, but I went upstairs just to be fair. Walking the corridor, I suddenly felt a strange draw from my left. I investigated and saw nothing. I started to turn back and I felt drawn, again. So, I walked all the way down to the end of the corridor. There, I found a black dog in a little glass room. It was curled in a ball, still and silent, with a plastic cone concealing its face. I asked a worker, “What about this dog?” I was informed that she did not have medical clearance for adoption because she had just arrived that day. Instantly, I knew why I had waited and I said, “Well, let’s get it done because I want this dog.” It was truly a touching and amazing experience to feel such a strong connection to another living creature.
Perhaps you will be amazed, too, this National Dog Day?
What if I Did Want to Adopt a Dog on National Dog Day?
The procedure is simple: 1) Fill out application, 2) select dog, 3) interact with dog aided by behaviorist, 4) sign adoption papers, 5) pay fee, and 6) take your new best friend home.
Different shelters may have more or less steps (some may not have behaviorists on-site) but, basically, this is all there is to adopting a dog.
If I Did Want to Adopt a Dog on National Dog Day, How Much would it Cost Me?
Different shelters have different adoption fees. Please check with your local shelter. I paid $85 for my dog. She is worth well over $1,000,000.
What About After National Dog Day? How Much will it Cost Me Then?
There are three main basic expenses to owning a dog: 1) Food, 2) Medical Check-ups, and 3) Preventative Medicine.
Here is a breakdown of my expenses. Please keep in mind that I live in NYC and prices are HIGH. So, if you live in another area, most likely your expenses will be LESS.
Food – Dry – $26 – 20 lb. bag/ 2 mo. Canned – $17/mo. = Total- $30/mo.
I have a medium-sized dog (40 lbs.). A smaller dog would cost less and a larger dog, of course, more. Also, my dog is strictly an IAMS dog and I buy her food locally. You could purchase online (watch shipping) and choose less expensive brands.
Medical Check-ups – $160/yr – office visit, vaccines, blood tests
Preventative Medicine – Frontline (fleas) & Interceptor (worms) $15/mo
So, all in all, my dog costs me about $45/mo, plus the once a year medical check-up. Her watchdog services alone are worth much more than that, not to mention all the fun, joy, and love she brings.
Besides the basics you may want to buy treats and toys. I recommend PetEdge.com.
Dogs are not nearly as expensive to own as some people may believe. We spend money on material things every day. The return on spending money on a living creature is so much higher. You can combine your heart and your wallet to help a dog in need this National Dog Day.
What About Adopting an Abused Dog on National Dog Day?
Many people feel a formerly abused dog like Bella screams, “Vet bill waiting to happen and fear aggression.” No one wants what they perceive to be a headache; everyone wants a nice healthy dog. Therefore, an innocent, abused dog could go unloved, without a home, forever, because some vicious monster hurt it in the past.
In Bella’s case, NONE of these concerns were true. She has NEVER once tried to bite me out of fear aggression. She costs no more in Vet bills than the average dog. And she is as “normal” and loving as any other dog. She’s a darn good watchdog, too.
There are only really two differences between adopting a formerly abused and non-abused dog.
1. If children are in the home be very cautious. Get a lot of background information on the dog and if you are inexperienced, seek professional advice on handling the dog.
2. Abused dogs need more Tender Loving Care (TLC) and time when you first bring them home. Consider whether or not you have these things to give for your sake and the dog’s sake.
I had prior experience handling dogs before I adopted Bella, but I had NO prior experience handling a formerly abused dog. I spent NO additional money on training. I trained her myself. Most of the handling of an abused dog is just common sense. If I had any questions, I looked them up on the Internet for free.
Remember: There are no bad dogs, just bad owners. If you treat any dog, including a formerly abused dog, correctly and with love, you will have a loyal friend and companion for life.
In fact, many people claim a formerly abused dog will be more loyal and grateful than a non-abused dog. I have owned both and I agree!
Please don’t automatically count out formerly abused dogs based upon rumors. You may be passing up the best damn dog you’ve ever seen in your life.
The most vulnerable always suffer most. Please consider a formerly abused dog this National Dog Day?
Additional Reasons to Adopt a Dog on National Dog Day
Bella has given me more than I have given her. She has taught me patience and given me a different perspective on life. She has inspired me to devalue the material. I now “see” gratitude and loyalty. I laugh and smile more; I appreciate more. And Bella has brought a level of compassion out of me that enhances my entire life.
So, this National Dog Day, if you don’t already have a dog buddy , why don’t you go pick one up, and see what a Bella by any other name will bring out of you?
If you cannot live with a dog right now, National Dog Day is the perfect day to give a donation from your heart as well.