There’s often a rush of excitement when it comes to adopting a new pet. Prospective pet parents scour through websites of animal shelters and rescues, searching for their perfect companion.
As the adoption process progresses, pet owners usually get a chance to meet the animal they’re interested in and if the two hit it off, then both the pet and person get to walk away with a new best friend.
One El Cajon woman has gone through this process three times, and she now has a beautiful family of three dogs in her house. Linda Miller has adopted three dogs from local adoption centers since 2011. Roxie, Pixie and Bash are quite the pack in the Miller household and she said having them in her life has brought her an abundance of joy.
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"It’s hard to be sad when you look at them because they’re just pure happiness," she told NBC 7.
She first welcomed Roxie, a Staffordshire Terrier-Rottweiler mix, into her life in 2011 from the It's the Pits organization. Little Roxie was just a puppy then and when she got older, Miller felt it was time to get her a companion. That's when Pixie, a Staffordshire Terrier came in sometime in 2014 from the Choose Life rescue.
After six years with the two girls, Miller's husband pleaded that he wanted a male dog, so she found herself returning to It's the Pits. After narrowing their choices down to a few dogs, Bash, another Staffordshire Terrier, fit in the best with Roxie and Pixie and he joined the Miller household in March.
Adopting a dog
Miller said she had grown up with Rottweilers and missed having a pet dog as an adult. So in 2011, she began to browse through PetFinder.com to see if she could find a dog to welcome into her life. She found the It’s the Pits organization and met a dog that had a litter of puppies. When she picked up Roxie as a puppy, she instantly fell in love and knew she was the one.
“She had a little personality that stuck out to me and she wanted to hang out with me, and that was important,” Miller said.
The next thing to do was to fill out paperwork, a common step into adopting a pet. Animal shelters want to ensure their animals will go to a loving home that won’t only welcome them but be a good fit for both the pets and owners.
“There can be a lot that goes into it,” Miller said of the adoption process. “You have to be patient, especially with a smaller rescue. There’s lots of paperwork and interviews, but they do it for a good reason – to make sure dogs go to a home and are not returned or put into a bad situation.”
To anyone who is intimidated by a pet adoption process, don’t be. Animal shelter and rescue counselors can help walk people through the procedure and offer insight on what kind of animal would be best for specific households.
“If you’ve never had a dog, visit your local shelter to start talking to an adoption counselor to get some guidance on what might be the best dog for your family,” said Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society. “We can guide you for what you’ll fall in love with.”
Finding the perfect match
Having had a good amount of experience in adopting dogs, Miller said she learned it's important to keep an open mind, not rush the process and to keep your current pets' needs in mind when searching for an additional member to join the family.
"Be patient and open-minded," she advises to prospective pet parents. "Bash wasn’t our first choice. My husband found another dog online, but he wasn’t a good fit with our dogs, so that’s something to consider. Be open-minded on what works for your pets, too.”
It's perfectly fine if you walk away from an animal rescue with a completely different pet in mind. It happens more often than people think, but that's understandable since people will more than likely take in a pet that better suits their lifestyle that they didn't imagine.
"You may fall in love with something unlike what you were expected to walk away with," Weitzman said.
As Miller said, she and her husband were initially interested in another dog before they met Bash. Now, he gets all of the cuddles and treats, plus extra playtime with his new sisters, Pixie and Roxie.
What to do post-adoption
For Miller and her terrific trio, everyone is settled in and the happy family is set. As an experienced dog owner, she already knew what her pups needed before they were adopted.
First times owners shouldn’t fret, because Weitzman has a list of what new dog owners should have before they take their new companion home.
“Get a collar and leash that’s appropriately sized,” he advised. “A crate for comfort, and water and food bowls. Get a good dog bed and sign up for training class; that’ll be one of the most important things you can do.”
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the San Diego Humane Society is currently offering virtual training classes.
To those who are on the fence of adopting an animal, Weitzman says prospective pet owners who ready and willing should seize the opportunity.
“The center of our being is the desire to help as humans, and one of the best ways to do that is to open up your home and your heart to something that needs you,” he said. “Nothing needs you like an animal in a shelter or rescue.”