5 reasons to adopt a shelter dog

Many people want to have a dog in their lives. I understand, because they are the most amazing animals, full of love, and they love to be by your side! Many people are swayed by cute puppies, and don't really understand the reality of having a puppy in their home. That's why I am sharing with you my 5 reasons to adopt a shelter dog, and why I prefer a shelter dog over a puppy at a pet shop or breeder.

1. When you buy a puppy, one shelter dog dies

It sounds harsh, but that is the reality. The most amazing dogs are killed or left behind in cold shelters because people don't choose them but instead buy puppies from breeders, or even worse, from people who just want to make money and import the dogs from far away not caring about the health and wellbeing of the mother and puppies. If you buy a puppy (because he or she is "sooo cute"!) you are contributing to the problem and you keep unhealthy practices going. Dogs are being killed everywhere - even in my hometown of NYC - EVERY DAY. I believe that if breeders truly love their breed, they would rescue dogs of their breed, and re-home them (for a fee) until all of the dogs of their breed are out of the shelter, before they breed even more puppies that will add to the problem. 

2. You know exactly what you get when you adopt a shelter dog

A dog in a shelter shows you exactly who he or she is. You can meet them more than once, walk them, play with them to see if your characters match. The character of an older shelter dog has set, and he or she has been assessed by the shelter staff. Even though dogs until very old age can learn new tricks and rules, it is nice to know what your dog prefers or not. When you adopt a shelter dog, you know if the dog is a barker, will chew on your stuff, can be home alone, likes to run or has medical issues. A lot of inbred puppies these days are born with incredible complex medical issues, which most of them don't show up in the first year of the puppy. It's something many people forget. (If you can insure your dog for health costs, that is a good option) When you adopt from a shelter, you know if the dog is housebroken or not. (most of them are in fact!) All these things give you so much more information on how your life is going to be with your dog, than when you buy a puppy whose character and behavior is still a total mystery. It could go well (which all new puppy owners hope for, but is only possible with lots of correct and daily training) or totally wrong giving you a hard time and maybe even forcing you to re-home your dog, which will give you and your dog much heartbreak. It would also result in more dumped dogs in the shelters because they end up not matching the envisioned lifestyle of the owner. Be smart: Adopt a dog that matches your life! 

3. A shelter dog is less expensive to purchase than a purebred puppy

Adopting a shelter dog is very cheap! While a puppy with a breeder will set you back anywhere between 500 and 10.000 dollars, a rescued dog will only cost you between 100 and 500 dollars (senior dogs are much cheaper, and sometimes even for free). You also know if the dog has expensive medical issues, or has had a fairly good life so far and not too expensive in upkeep. For your financial situation is good to know what you are getting yourself into!

4. A rescued shelter dog is so thankful

A shelter dog has been through a rough time, and feel so happy to be with you in a safe home! They show you their thankfulness in almost human like affection. And a rescued shelter dog is just as cute as a puppy... maybe even cuter! No wonder the hashtag #rescuedogsrock and #shelterdogsarethebest are my favorite tags!

5. You become a shelter dog rescue hero 

When you do the right thing for yourself, for your community, and especially for the shleter dog, the feeling you get from that, is much more rewarding than that cute puppy. Everybody can buy a puppy, but not everyone can rescue a dog. It's a much more special achievement.This of course counts for adopting any animal: Cats, rabbits, horses you name it! And when your rescue a shelter dog we will salute you!

So rescue your four-legged friend from a shelter near you. And if you don't want to make a longterm commitment or want to have a trial period, you can always become a Foster Parent. Fostering saves many dogs' lives.

We loved our shelter senior dog Vito so much, he was the best. He passed away after a short illness because of cancer, 3 years after we adopted him as a senior dog from a shelter. Those were the best 3 years! We saved him, but he definitely saved us too. That's what shelter dogs do, they have a certain magic to them. Our current dog Bane was also a shelter dog from Animal Haven in NYC.. he chose us! and he has been with us for more than 3 years already. We feel blessed that we could do something so easy, with such a big impact

 

 


10 ways to help dogs in need

Did you know many shelters in NYC and in USA have a kill policy?

The Truth about shelters in the USA

Some dogs that come in are euthanized within a few days or a week. They don't get a fair chance to get adopted. Many "mega" shelters get 80 to 100 dogs A DAY to care for, dumped by their owners, found as stray, confiscated by the Police due to abuse, you name it. Many shelter employees experience traumatic situations everyday, but pick themselves up by knowing that they are still helping the majority of the dogs. My first dog Vito - a Bull Terrier - came from a shelter in the Netherlands. When he passed away at an old age, we first fostered and then adopted our dog Bane. He was on Death Row at the NYCACC shelter, and Animal Haven shelter saved him just in time before he was killed...

Lonneke en Bane
My dog Bane

Sweet pitbulls have a bad reputation but are in fact great dogs

In the USA right now there is a big problem with pitbulls, American Staffordshire terriers and American Bull dogs. And any "scary" looking dogs. Not the dogs are the problem, the dogs of these breeds are in fact the most loving and amazing dogs I know, but the owners are the problem. In certain parts of the USA society, and other parts of the World, even in my home country of the Netherlands, people use these dogs for dog fighting. They look ferocious and some people own them only for that reason. These dogs are amazing. Why? They are so loving and so loyal to their owners, they will do everything for them. And even when these dogs are rescued after having experienced the worst they could ever experience, most of them can still get rehabilitated in loving homes. That's how amazing that breed is.The show Pitbulls and Parolees is a good example. People who are involved in any of these scams, should of course be prosecuted for these criminal charges. And never be able to own a dog in their life again.

 

Dogs in need are all around us

Dogs in need suffer all over the World each and every day. People are putting these dogs outside with no food, water, shelter or attention. Leaving your dog alone at home for most of the day is not dog-friendly either. Most dogs that have behavioral problems, are caused by their owners. Dogs have feelings just like we do. They get hungry, they feel pain, they get cold. Caring for a dog is like caring for your child. You should treat them how you treat your children, and how you want to be treated. It is no wonder that families where there is animal abuse, there are usually also other problems within that family. Animal abuse is therefore a good indication that these people might need more help. Sometimes dogs are wandering around as stray dogs. They are not neutered or spayed and therefore start families. Who then again are also homeless. These mutts usually have a hard time getting adopted too.

Must Read: 5 Reasons to adopt a shelter dog

Lonneke, Bane en Dirk
Lonneke, Bane & Dirk

10 ways to help dogs in need

  1. Firstly realize that dogs have feelings just like us. They feel pain, they get cold. Treat them how you want to be treated.
  2. More dogs need to get adopted, EVERYONE can help out.
  3. Think everything out before you get a dog. People should not get a dog if they can't give them a lifetime commitment, or a safe home. Most dogs reach an age between 10-15 years, sometimes even more! And if you do want a commitment for such a long time, getting a senior from a shelter is a good idea; You give him or her a few great years, and he or she gives you unconditional love and attention.
  4. Think about what your dog, or a shelter dog needs. Feed them enough of the right food, and give them the right (medical) care in time. Prevent your dog from getting too cold, too hot, hurt, hungry or depressed. Don't leave dogs unattended,  especially during cold and hot days. Dogs can overheat or cool down quickly and not show signs until it is too late. Make time for your dog. If your dog has behavioral problems it is most likely due to a fault of the owner.
  5. Don't buy a puppy, choose a shelter dog! Shelter dogs are a much better choice for many reasons. You know what you get, they are very well supervised and analyzed for their behavior, and sometimes even trained well! And one fact: When you buy a puppy: a shelter dog get's killed. It is that simple.
  6. Adopt, Foster a dog and/or Donate to your local shelter. You can even give dog food, new toys, blankets and beds. Fostering a dog really saves a dog's lives!
  7. If you see a dog in need, you need to take care of it and bring it to the attention of animal rescue organization in your area. Always think that you are the only one that will do something about it. Most people think; " Someone else will help that animal" and walk on. But in reality most people think like that and therefore many animals suffer!
  8. If you know of or see animal abuse, notify the local police. We need higher criminal charges for animal abuse and more people telling the Police what they have seen or know about.
  9. Become a volunteer at a shelter and walk dogs. A lot of dogs at shelters are 24/7 in their cages because there aren't enough volunteers. Even an hour a week would help out a few dogs!
  10. Use social media to bring awareness to dogs in need. Any like, click, share will help!

Here are a few shelters you can go to right now and help out!

USA:

NYC:

The dogs will thank you even if you help out just 1 of them. If we all do a little bit of work, we can create a big chance for all of them!

Love, Lonneke

Must-read: A Dog is part of the Family

 


organic home cooked dog food

In the beginning of 2013 we adopted a senior shelter dog, a bullterrier named Vito. Little did we know back then that he would turn out to become a local celebrity in New York City. He had his own popular Instagram page on which I shared his life with followers. He even had a page article in the New York Post! I was working on a book about his life but when he passed I couldn't get myself to finish it, it was too hard.  I had cared a lot about Vito, he was in my life for 3 of the hardest years of my life. I felt it was my responsibility to make sure he would get the best care and love possible! I would like to share with you a bit about what organic home cooked dog food I fed him.

Vito the Dog and Lonneke Engel in the New York Post
Vito the Dog and Lonneke Engel in the New York Post

What is in your dog's food

As most humans like to eat healthy food, it is also good to look at what you feed your dog. Have you ever looked at the ingredient lists on the dog food labels? Well, if you want to get a grip on your dog's diet, I recommend that is the first thing you should do. get familiar with the foods you give your dog, and its ingredients. Ask yourself what they are, and find out by online searching if it is good for your dog. Curiosity is always the first step.
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So many options for dog food

Just like with human food, in the dog world there are many options and opinions on dog food. Some dog food brands are healthier than others. Some swear by giving a raw food diet to their dog, others only give dry food, and others only cook for their dog. It depends on each dog individually what is good and what is not, and it is always wise to discuss this with your veterinarian at your next checkup. Basically it is also trial and error you find out what diet is best for your dog.

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Vito in the Shelter before we adopted him.

The story of Vito the Dog

When we got Vito, he was a bit overweight. He weighed in at over 70 pounds. I switched him immediately from regular dry food to organic dry food. In the USA I gave him the grain free dry food by Organix . We also gave him a can of wet food once a while he really enjoyed. I even tried at one point frozen raw meat that you thaw first before you feed it to your dog, but Vito became an "espresso machine" as my husband calls it politely. So we found out after trying a few times, that raw/frozen food was not so good for him, he was too sensitive to it. And my research continued. Vito turned out to become an espresso machine when he ate something bad, or when things were raw. Since he is a bullterrier and that breed is known for eating everything that they find along the way, it was hard to make sure he would only eat what we fed him.

Vito's feeding schedule

After our trial and error period with Vito, we discovered what diet worked best for him. As we work from home, Vito was always with us. So we started to give him food spread over a day,  instead of giving him once a day a lot of food. When he wakes up, he would get a bit of dry food, because otherwise he gets acid reflux during a walk. Then throughout the day we would give him food after exercise, like after a brisk walk. Basically when we would eat, Vito would get food too. He knew that he can expect food after we have eaten, so he always waits without a fuzz, and never begged for food. He ate the food we would give him when he wanted to, sometimes leaving a bit for later. At the end of the day he ate just as much food as he would have if we fed him once, but now it was spread over the day, which we thought is better for his digestion. and it gave him something to do all day. This has made him to be a wonderful well-behaved dog as well, who knew what to expect. He never chewed on or broke things. His days were all about sleep, walks, playtime and food, and he was in excellent shape (until he got sick because of a vaccination, which is a different story).

Vito and his bullterrier puppy friend Darwyn
Vito and his bullterrier puppy friend Darwyn, November 2015

During the time of getting to know Vito we would feed him only organic and simple snacks once a while: He enjoyed raw carrots, bananas, apple parts, melon parts, cooked eggs.

Home cooked dog food

After a while I was convinced I wanted to try to cook for him. But where to start? What is good for a dog, and in what ratio do I give it to him? My first step was to search online and see what are good foods for my dog. In the beginning I only dared to cook organic chicken and rice for him, as they vet always advises that when a dog has an upset stomach. In the beginning I would only give it once a week, but later on I started incorporating more foods to his diet and gave it to him more regularly. Vito was over the Moon when he smelled the food I was cooking, and would sit next to me in the kitchen.

This article on whole-dog-journal.com I used to decide what I wanted to cook for my dog

Vito the Dog in the kitchen waiting for his food
Vito the Dog in the kitchen waiting for his food

Home cooked dog food options

Foods I now use in cooking are: organic chicken incl. skin, organic chicken livers and hearts (organ meat not more than 5% of total food I give him), organic rice, organic sweet potato, organic squash, organic carrots, organic broccoli, organic string beans, organic coconut oil. I noticed if I cook low-fat for Vito, he doesn't have enough energy. So I add a bit of chicken fat that comes from boiling a whole chicken, and coconut oil. Also, when the veggies and carbs are cooked, Vito digests them well, compared to raw vegetables that come out the same way they went in.

I mix all of these cooked ingredients together in different combos, and it became like 40% of Vito's daily diet. In a cooked meal Vito ate about 75% animal protein, and 25% cooked rice and veggies. Again, there are many opinions on what diet is good for your dog, and what ratio is good, but we discovered this worked for us. He would still get dry food, but of course less than before. This way I knew he would get all the nutrients he needs, while I perfect my home cooked dog food cooking skills. I know that if I feed him only home cooked food, I need to add a supplement into the mix to get the right calcium - phosphorous ratio in his meals. I still need to learn more about a balanced diet before I can transition fully to a home cooked dog food meal. but the first steps are made!

Vito the Dog and his food
Vito is looking forward to his dinner tonight!

My husband was in charge of the vitamins we gave to Vito. Since he was older, he would get a daily mix of vitamins that were customized to his needs. To support his joints, kidneys, immune system and overall health. People are amazed when they saw how good he looked!

Vito is regularly checked by a vet, and his bloodwork has come back better than before. He is now on a healthy weight of 65 pounds, and still very active. which is good for an almost 13 year bullterrier.

Be a responsible dog owner

What I want to say to you is that, as a responsible owner you need to research what food works for your dog. Some things I said may be great for your dog, and some things are not so great. Every dog is different, and different times and events force you to make changes to the diet. Again, check with your veterinarian what diet and supplements are best for your beloved dog. But your dog will love you for it!

LOVE, LONNEKE (& Vito)

UPDATE: Vito died after a short illness (after receiving a vaccination) on March 10th 2016. He enjoyed a wonderful life with us and we will never forget him!

Lonneke Engel & Vito the Dog

 

First published on November 10th 2015, updated in 2019


A Dog is Part of the Family

I love dogs. My dog is always part of my family!

Dogs can heal you

The relationship I have with my dog is one of the strongest relationships I have in my life, as that relationship is one of the reasons I am now back to being a contributing member of society after I suffered from a burnout and autoimmune disease.

As a Certified Health Counselor I was helping other people live their best life, but I had to stop working for Organice Your Life for a few years, as I suddenly had to focus on my own health. I got a dog and started my process back to health. Not knowing it would take me a few years. But my dog is the reason I am back :)

My life with dogs

When my dog Vito passed away a few years ago, I was devastated for months on end and it set me back again for a while. It only got better when I ended up adopting Bane. Both dogs we found in a shelter, both did not have the best past and present, but their future was going to be for sure very great! I went to the shelter a few times to meet different dogs, to see which one fit best with me and my life. Then Vito turned out to be the best fit. Later in life when Vito had passed, I found Bane. It was meant to be. I have a special place in my heart for the dogs that are the most difficult to adopt, and I don't mind a challenge. It feels great when you can prove to everybody that the dog that everybody passed on, is now this awesome dog living a wonderful life!

Any dog - no matter how bad their situation is - can become a GREAT dog in a balanced, stable and loving environment. Do not give up on any dog!

My dog Bane
My dog Bane

A dog is part of the family

My dog is a valued family member in our home, and I take his wellbeing in consideration every single day. Taking care of my dog takes a lot of time, but what I get back is unconditional love, and a household in harmony. It takes a lot of work, but it is worth it! We are a team and wherever I go, Bane goes. He is very respectful of our home, but can sit and sleep anywhere he wants to. We have a special understanding between us, which I cherish as I invested so much time and attention into him to get us to where we are now.

A dog needs a lot of care and attention

What I don't get is that so many people get a dog, and just think that they don't have to put much time and effort into it, because hey, it is "Just a dog". Why don't they just get a stuffed animal I wonder? A dog has a soul and feelings. They crave love, understanding, attention and cuddles.

To me it seems to be just about as much work to do it right, as taking care of a child. I mean, you need to feed them, give them regular exercise (at least 1.5 hours a day but I take him everywhere and we walk sometimes 4, 5 hours a day). You need to take them to the vet regularly, you need to watch them all the time just like you have to look after a young child. (Adult dogs apparently have the mental capacity of a 2.5 year old.) All together it is full on work and a lot of responsibility! Not only for the dog, but also for your family and society, as you have to make sure all stay safe all the time.

Adopt a shelter dog

Some people don't do a lot of research and want a purebred puppy just because they like the look of it. And puppies are sooo cute of course! They then pay a lot of money to get a purebred puppy somewhere. But I will tell you the truth about dogs: The shelters are overcrowded with every type of dog - mixes AND purebreds - so it makes no sense to get a puppy. Because when you get a puppy, ANY PUPPY, one dog in the shelter gets killed. Yearly about 2.4 million dogs get killed in shelters across the USA.... I wrote about it before. Many times it turns out that the puppy people bought was not a good match, because it grew up and is not as cute anymore, or it needs much more attention and exercise than they are willing to give, and so that dog ends up in a shelter. Be smart and get a rescue dog with the help of a reputable rescue organization! There is one close to you! And it is much cheaper than getting a purebred as well!

Check out my other articles on helping shelter dogs:

5 reasons to adopt a shelter dog

10 ways to help a dog in need

Good People help dogs in need

Luckily there are many people who go above and beyond to help dogs in need. I salute every one of them, because it is a very difficult task, and it breaks your heart all the time when you see the suffering many dogs have to go through.

Quotes that I love:

"Saving one dog will not change the World, but surely for that dog the World will change Forever"Unknown

And:

"People who say money can't bring happiness, have probably never paid an adoption fee"Unknown

So true!

I love my dog Bane

My rescue dog Bane is with me now for 2 years. It amazes me how he still improves and gets better every day, after all that he has been through in his young life! I can still teach him new things, even though he already probably knows more than 99% of dogs in the World! I still can't believe that he was one of those millions of dogs that end up in the shelter yearly, and he was almost one of the 2.4 million dogs that are killed at shelters each year! Luckily he got rescued in the nick of time by Animal Haven in NYC, the place where he stayed for 10 months until we found each other.. and the rest is history!

I will share more stories about Bane, Vito and how I care and work with my dog each day, and you can follow him as well on his own instagram page Everybody Loves Bane!

And never forget:

Love, Lonneke

first published in 2018, updated in 2019