I really wanted to call this post “because they have low expectations.” Until I thought about all the folks that would comment haughtily before reading the rest. Oh, kale no! Thank you, dear reader, for hanging out long enough to find out where I’m going with this one.
When I asked a friend to list the reasons she thinks would motivate people to adopt, she fired back “shelter dogs have low expectations.” I spit my drink out to laugh out loud. We’ve all bean there. After considering my friend’s suggestion, I nodded passionately. Yes, yes they do.
Don’t get me wrong, shelter dogs deserve the best the world has to offer! And yet, they are generally content with things that don’t excite us in the slightest. Put yourself in their shoes. We stick you in a concrete box, limit your bathroom breaks to once a day (if you’re lucky), and put you on display to large animals randomly looming over your only window? I guarantee it won’t be long before you’re dying for ANY opportunity to do something that makes you feel normal again. Suddenly, the most mundane things light up your world. Be it brushing your teeth, sitting at a dinner table, going for a jog, or whatever everyday activity you don’t even realize you take for granted.
Let me pause to clarify that I am in no way bashing shelters. Romaine calm and carrot on, folks. Hello, I’ve spent the better part of my life working in shelters. My heart is in every shelter out there trying to do right by their animals. Still, even the best of shelters are no substitute for a stable, loving home. Dogs are social creatures. And the worst thing a social creature can experience is isolation. Need I say more?
The thousands of shelter dogs I have worked with remind of the many homeless folks I served in Kansas City. That’s where I volunteered on a street outreach team that regularly ran routes throughout the city to offer supplies and meals to folks who needed it. I’ve never met more grateful and generous humans than the good souls on those routes. It’s still cornfusing to me. Those with the least happen to enjoy life the most.
I see the same humbling phenomenon in the shelter dogs I work with. They are content with the basics. Quiet. Dryness. A semi-soft surface. Doesn’t even have to be clean! Something to chew on. A puddle. The feel of grass. A smile. A gentle pat. A kind voice. It doesn’t take much to rock a shelter dog’s world. Get ready to turnip the beet y’all!
This is good news for dog owners everywhere! It means you can get a lot of things wrong as a dog parent. Your dog will still think you’re the greatest thing since squeeze cheese. Of course, we know (and hope!) that most potential adopters have greater goals than to be the World’s Most Okayest Dog Mom or Dad. Don’t settle for being mediokra!
Just know that one of the perks of adopting a shelter dog is that you now get to show them the world! And you get to experience all that new-world-wonder with and through your four-legged BFF. All because shelter dogs indeed have low expectations. Still don’t like this idea? Haters gonna hate, I don’t carrot all.
Speaking of low expectations, have you seen a dog work for veggies? The first time I saw my dog, Hope, beg for a piece of celery, I laughed out loud. The guttural kind of laugh that had me holding my belly, as I tossed her fresh a piece. She has since made me chuckle many times over. Most notably when I realized that it was SHE who has destroying Ryan’s herb garden. For weeks we had assumed it the backyard critters when every day she was brusselin’!
If you like watching dogs work for veggies as much as I do, check out the late shelter dog @paloma_eats_her_vegetables. She was kind of a big dill. And for a lifethyme of veggie puns, go adopt yourself a radishing shelter dog. Peas and thank you.
Know a veggie-loving shelter dog? Lettuce know in the comments! And before feeding, sure to berrify that your veggies are safe for dog consumption.