as told by Kim Kemple Cott
Wink came into our lives one day when my mom, Helen, was attempting to adopt a different dog than Wink. Six months after her rescue dog, Zac the Vizsla, passed on, my mom starting looking with very specific criteria: the dog had to be a small, manageable size and had to be a rescue.
I’d been helping her search for a month by contacting local SPCAs and humane societies and by checking on www.petfinder.com (as of this writing, petfinder.com is featuring 332,076 adoptable pets from 13,476 adoption groups nationwide). The right dog hadn’t shown up yet.
A friend suggested we try a particular rescue organization in the next county over. I called my mom, picked her up, and we headed out there. We got lost en route, stopped to ask for directions, were given directions to a different rescue, and got lost again. After getting lost a third, time, we asked a police officer. He wasn’t sure where the rescue was but said that he’d find out. He pointed us the right way and we arrived after having wandered through much of the county.
We walked up and down the aisles, drawn by so many sweet animals. We settled on a little brown dog and went to the front desk to provide them with the kennel cage number. While we were waiting in line, my mom noticed a small black dog sitting in the office of one of the shelter workers. My mom and I looked at each other, both somehow knowing: this was the dog. My mom asked about him and was told he was up for adoption; he’d just had his eye removed the day before (kids had beaten him and he was found lying under a front porch). One of the shelter workers had taken a particular interest in this Pomeranian/Chihuahua mix, named him Eduardo, and cared for him personally.
As part of the shelter’s adoption process, my mom’s landlord had to be called to verify that he allowed pets. He was unreachable. This was a problem, because we really, really wanted to take the dog home that day. We explained to the shelter worker that the landlord had already given verbal permission, that my mom had a previous rescue dog living there, etc. The worker looked into my mom’s eyes, then into mine and said she’d be back shortly. We waited anxiously.
She came back, stacking the adoption papers into a tidy pile, saying, “Everything is in order,” and winking at us. We smiled conspiratorially, signed the papers, picked up the pup, and headed home.
He was tentative and scared at first, but well behaved, and he bonded quickly with my mom and me. Mom named this sweet creature Wink. She took him everywhere to help him socialize with people and dogs. So many people were kind to him.
One day my mom took him into a consignment shop. The shopkeeper said, “We don’t allow animals in our store.” Mom smiled warmly, leaned in, and said, “I know, and isn’t it so nice that you let me bring him in here.”
• With so many good, adoptable pets available—and with an average of 1 in 4 pets in humane societies nationwide being purebreds—why not consider adoption rather than supporting the supply-demand cycle of pet breeding.
• From the American Humane Society: It is a common myth that pet overpopulation means there are “not enough” homes for all the shelter animals. In reality, there are more than enough homes, but not enough people are choosing to adopt from a shelter. Seventeen million Americans acquire a new pet each year—more than double the number of shelter animals. Only 3.5 million people, or about 20 percent, choose to adopt their new pet. The rest choose to buy their pets from pet stores or breeders, or they choose a variety of other cheap or free sources.
Despite increased public awareness over the past 40 years about the need to spay and neuter pets, 35 percent of pet owners in the U.S. still choose not to do so. Many among this group intentionally choose to breed their pets, either for profit or for what they mistakenly believe to be a “fun” experience. Others choose not to spay or neuter out of ignorance, believing that their pets won’t breed accidentally.