Uncomplicated love: Adoptability of dogs

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Nails clack against the floor as their tails knock down everything in their path. Tunnel vision leads them straight to the door as a car pulls in the driveway. Tongue ready for licking; they squeal out an excited "woof!"

We've just walked through the door after being apart for 10 hours. But for our four-legged friends, it's been a lifetime.

For many military members stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base, having a dog to come home to after completing a 24-hour alert in the missile complex may be the best Wingman they could ever ask for.

Being stationed here in Montana, there is a gold mine of dog-adopting options. In my home state of Maine, adopting a shelter dog can cost upwards of $500; regardless of their age. In Montana - on the web through social media, Craigslist and at animal shelters - dogs are given up for a fraction of the price or for free.

But for many people, they find themselves drawn to specific breeds of dogs based on temperament, childhood memories or convenience. Regardless of how you discovered your dog - through a breeder, pet store, animal shelter or even on the side of the road - nearly everyone is or knows a dog owner. Unfortunately, many make the decision to get a dog after an impulsive decision.

The addition of a dog to a home, a lifestyle, is a decision that must be weighed carefully, logically and realistically. The cost of this decision can ultimately end in euthanization when it could have been avoided in the first place.

According to www.humanesociety.org, from 1970 to 2010 the number of dogs and cats
in homes has increased from 67 million to 164 million. Although the number of pets euthanized in shelters has decreased from 12 to 20 million to 3 to 4 million, every year there are 2.7 million healthy pets from shelters that are not adopted. Of those dogs at animal shelters, approximately 25 percent are purebred.

Having a dog from an animal shelter, I can testify to the fact that just because a dog has been rehomed three times, doesn't mean they should be given up on. Although many people walk into an animal shelter with plans to rescue a dog, the dog is inevitably the one to rescue its owner.

According to www.webmd.com, studies have shown that animals can reduce tension and improve mood. Having a dog provides responsibility, requires activity, a routine, companionship and social interaction - all qualities that add a positive focus to life by providing a sense of value and importance.

Whether they provide therapy for autism, security as a military working dog or they're simply a Wingman to come home to, the unwavering loyalty of a dog is incomparable to nearly all relationships. They forget our absence as soon as we scratch behind their ears; they listen without judgment and love us unconditionally for the short decade we are blessed to have them in our lives. Few things can touch a human heart like the relationship with one's dog.

Dean Koontz, author of "A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog," once said, "No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish - consciously or unconsciously - that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown."

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