As some of you may know, my wife and I welcomed a new baby daughter back in February named Sophia. However, this was not our first child. I cannot take credit for fathering our first child, but back on June 14, 1995, our first child, or should I say my wife’s first child was born. At the young age of 6 weeks old, my wife laid eyes on a baby Siberian husky that would become her first child and the love of her life.
Today I am going to share the story of this husky with you, the 14 years wonderful years we had with her and after her sudden death in July, the importance of saving thousands of dogs through adoption.
The story of this baby husky starts out at the Renaissance festival in Larkspur, when my wife’s boyfriend at the time brought home the young husky. Of course, my wife immediately fell in love with the dog and named her after Mt. Shavano, a fourteener near the town of Salida.
Shavano had an eventful early life, running away for days at a time in the mountains with her fellow Huskies and even encountering a bear in her dog pen. One of the things that Shavano always provided for my wife was a constant, reassuring presence. After the tragic death of my wife’s fiancé and father, it was Shavano that provided a link to her loved ones and it was Shavano that helped my wife deal with her grief and loss.
When I first met Shavano, I met a beautiful, loving, and loyal dog. Every time my wife and I would go out on a date, she always had to be home by a decent hour so she could walk Shavano. Shavano loved and expected her early morning and late evening walks and if you ever have owned a Husky, they can get very vocal. If you mentioned the word ‘WALK’, Shavano would start howling and run towards the door.
While I was dating my wife, I always knew where I stood in the relationship, Shavano’s needs had to be met first and then my needs were met.
Over the years, Shavano provided many fond memories and even some close calls. Just over two years ago she was rushed to the vet due to a ruptured tumor on her spleen. After the Doctor gave her little chance to live, she came through the ordeal with flying colors, and a removed spleen.
We were lucky that Shavano was able to live a healthy two more years, however, back in July was a different story. Unfortunately Shavano was diagnosed with cancer and we had the make one of the toughest decisions in our life and put her to sleep. Not only did we lose a friend and companion, my wife lost her link to her past loved ones.
We are now in the process of adapting to life without a dog and our 6 month old daughter Sophia has helped us tremendously during the mourning process. Just recently we started exploring our options for a new dog.
Did you know that in the U.S., over 6 million cats and dogs enter a shelter each year, and of that half are euthanized by shelters each year. Of the remaining cats and dogs left in the shelter, approximately 30% are reunited with their original owners, leaving just 20% of cats and dogs being adopted each year.
In Colorado, the most recognizable shelter that provides adoptions is the Denver Dumb Friends League. However, there are over 100 shelters for all types and breeds and animals, and there are approximately 50 breed specific shelters (Lab, Dalmatian, Golden, and Great Dane) . My wife and I have agreed that we will adopt Siberian Huskies and the Polaris Siberian Husky Rescue in Fort Collins is our shelter of choice.
My wife and I have decided that when we get a new dog, we are going to adopt one from a local shelter. Adopting a dog over purchasing one from a breeder or pet store is good for a number of reasons.
First, it helps save a number of those lives that are lost at shelters each year due to euthanization.
Second, it is much cheaper than say purchasing a pet from a breeder. Typical adoption fees range from $200-$300 whereas purchasing a pet from a breeder can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars for an English bulldog.
Third, the adopted pet is usually older, meaning it is usually housebroken and spayed or neutered.
Lastly, adopting a pet helps stop puppy mills. Puppy mills are distinguished by their inhumane conditions and the constant breeding of unhealthy and genetically defective dogs solely for profit. The conditions are so bad that many puppies freeze in the winter and die of heat stroke in the summer due to no air-conditioning. The only way to free them from the misery of these horrid puppy mills is to eliminate the demand for puppies by refusing to buy a puppy in a pet store and boycotting those pet stores that sell puppies.
I am sure many if not all of you can relate to a cherished pet that you grew up with and created many special memories with. For many of us, a pet is our first experience with taking care of something 24 hours a day and providing for its every need, not unlike a first child. Each of us has an opportunity to create many more of these memories by adopting a pet from a local shelter. As Josh Groban, author of Marley and Me said “A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water log stick will do just fine. A dog doesn't care if you’re rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?”