• life
  • 8 Reasons to Adopt a Shelter Dog (Instead of Getting One from a Breeder)

    rescue-dogs

    Did you know that in the United States alone approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter the shelter system each year (ASPCA Pet Statistics)? Of that 7.6 million, each year 2.7 million are euthanized. 1.2 million of those euthanized are dogs. The majority of them are euthanized not because they are bad or ill-tempered, but because in our overburdened shelter system, there simply isn’t enough space for them all. These dogs live out the last months, weeks, days and hours of their lives on a cold cement floor with no one to tell them, “I have loved you…” as they close their eyes for the last time.

    And while that scenario above is happening everyday, with thousands of loving dogs being euthanized, at the same time new dogs are being brought into existence by breeders and puppy mills everyday. You see the problem there? There are already millions of dogs just waiting to be your best friend and companion. But they stand no chance when new purebred dogs are being brought into existence and marketed as some way superior to the dogs in shelters.

    volunteer

    I have been an animal shelter volunteer and foster mom the past two plus years. The dogs featured in the photos in this post are just some of the hundreds of dogs I’ve gotten to know through volunteering. Animal rescue is something I am deeply passionate about because now I know these dogs. I know how amazing they are. I know that nothing makes a dog from a breeder a better companion than a dog from a shelter.

    I also know that a huge part of the problem here is that people just don’t know. They aren’t aware of what shelter dogs are really like. And I know this because before my family and I became involved in animal rescue, we bought our dog from a breeder. And he was wonderful and we loved him to pieces. But the only reason we got him from a breeder was because we ourselves were unaware. We didn’t know how many animal lives are lost each year because people choose to buy from breeders instead of adopting, we didn’t know the gravity of the situation, and we didn’t know how amazing, loving and wonderful shelter pets can be.

    The purpose of this post is to share the information that I only wish I knew from day one. Of course I would never want to change having had Cody. And if you have a dog from a breeder or pet shop, I’m sure you feel the same way. So this post isn’t about beating ourselves up for the choices we’ve made in the past, it’s about the future. It’s about moving forward and making more informed choices. If you have a dog from a breeder right now, love them to pieces. But in the future, I hope you’ll consider adoption.

    Please keep in mind that this post focuses on dogs, but cats, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, pigs, fish, etc. end up in shelters too and they could all make great companions. And note that for the purpose of this post I’m using the term “breeder” to cover breeders in the traditional sense and pet shops, as pet shop puppies come from puppy mills, which are large scale breeders.

    Here are my 8 reasons to adopt a shelter dog, instead of getting one from a breeder.

    happy puppy

    1. You know what you’re getting.
    I’m not sure why people think they know what they’re getting more with a purebred dog than a shelter dog. It’s one of those long held beliefs that I hear all the time. But dogs, like people, develop their own unique personalities. When you get a dog from a traditional breeder, almost always you’re putting down a down payment before the dog is even born. Breed stereotypes are just that – stereotypes. And thinking your dog will be well-behaved or easy to take care of because they are a certain breed is just plain wrong. When you get a dog from a shelter, whether it’s a puppy or an adult dog, staff and volunteers actually know that dog! And if your dog is in foster, then that dog has actually lived with another person who can literally tell you everything you could possibly want to know about how the dog acts.

    I remember once a passerby came onto the adoption van I was volunteering on and excitedly told the other volunteers and I that his family was getting a puppy from a breeder in a couple weeks and followed it with, “You know, because shelter dogs are unpredictable.” I was filled with so much anger and sadness. Here he was, saying this surrounded by ten amazing, loving, wonderful and very “predictable” dogs. I could have told him all about the dogs there. Exactly what they like, if they’re good with kids or dogs or cats. If they need lots of exercise or if they’re more of a lap dog. I could tell him all of that right then and there because I had been volunteering with those dogs for weeks, some months, on end. Now, what could he truly tell me about his unborn puppy’s personality? Not one thing.

    puppy-senior-2

    2. Raising a puppy is a ton of work. At a shelter you can adopt an adult dog whose puppy phase is already behind them.
    I have fostered eleven dogs and had one of my own. I’ve fostered everything from six week old puppies to senior dogs. Adult dogs are way more mature and chill than puppies. They won’t gnaw on you constantly (puppy teething), they won’t chew up everything in your house, and more often than not they are either housetrained or housetraining them is pretty easy. Plus, puppies always get adopted. They are in high demand. It’s the adult dogs (meaning 1 year plus) that get overlooked. So if you still want a puppy, there are always puppies in shelters looking for their forever homes, but know that adult dogs and senior dogs make wonderful companions too.

    img_0384

    3. If you really have your heart set on a particular breed you can still adopt. Every type of breed can end up in shelters/rescues.
    Once you really get to know lots of different types of dogs, you realize breed doesn’t really matter. That said, if you still have your heart set on a specific breed, you can find it in a shelter or rescue group. Even purebred dogs end up in shelters. At just the small shelter I volunteer at in NYC I’ve seen it all – purebred dalmations, labradors, labradoodles, cocker spaniels, golden retrievers, dachshunds, yorkies, pomeranians, pekingese (remember my foster Day-Day, pictured above), shit-zus, pugs, etc.

    And there are rescue groups for every type of breed too. If you’ve got your heart set on a certain breed, head to google and search for the breed type (example: dachshund) and search “dachshund rescues”. You’ll be surprised by all the rescues you’ll find. Petfinder.com is another great resource where you can search massive rescue databases by different criteria, including breed, to find the very breed you want in need of rescue. And if you don’t find one right away, have patience. You will!

    4. Adopting is more affordable.
    Breeders and pet stores often charge hundreds to thousands of dollars for their puppies. Adoption fees at shelters/rescue groups are generally in the low hundreds and that fee covers spay/neuter surgery, microchip, vaccines and any other veterinary care the animal receives while in the shelter. When you buy from a breeder the spay/neuter surgery, microchip, vaccines and veterinary care will all be things you will be taking care of yourself and paying for out of your own pocket. Purebred dogs are more expensive because breeding is for-profit, whereas shelters are nonprofit.

    5. Purebred dogs tend to have more health issues.
    I remember someone told me this once when I was a kid and I ignorantly told them they were wrong. This one especially applies to dogs from pet shops and online breeders. The puppies in pet shops come from puppy mills. Puppy mills excessively breed dogs over and over again to make the most money. Because of that there is a great deal of inbreeding which can lead to serious life-long health problems.

    6. Puppy mills are horrible, cruel places. Do you really want your money to support that?
    The level of cruelty that happens in puppy mills is truly horrific. Often the mother dogs used to breed are bred over and over again until their bodies physically can no longer handle it. And when her body reaches that point, she’s either killed or dumped somewhere, half-alive, like trash. But, if the parent dog is lucky enough, they get rescued. At the shelter I volunteer at we have rescued many of these mother and father dogs used for breeding at puppy mills. The level of neglect and abuse they have suffered is truly heartbreaking. They’re often left in a cage their whole lives, not given enough food or water and they never see the light of day. That’s what these dogs go through. And want to know what? If they survive the years of neglect they have been through, once they get to the shelter and realize they are safe, they become the most loving and kind companions.

    stevia

    7. Shelter dogs will love you in a very special way.
    All dogs have the potential to be amazing, loving companions. But there is something extra special about a dog that comes from a shelter. These dogs know you rescued them. They have a sense of loyalty and appreciation that you would only see from a dog that goes from having no one, to having someone.

    ollie

    8. When you adopt you’re not just saving one life. You’re saving two.
    The wonderful thing about adoption is that when you adopt not only do you save the life of your new companion, but in return you save the life of the one you just made space for in the shelter.


    If you have any questions about adoption feel free to comment below or email me at tedi@tedisarah.com. I’m always happy to help in any way I can!

    xo,

    Tedi

  • life
  • 25 Things You May Not Know About Me

    Teditedi

    If you read my blog or follow me on social media, a few things are pretty clear: I eat a vegan diet. I love animals. I live in NYC. But then there’s so much you would never know about me just from reading my blog. For instance, that I’m pretty sarcastic or where I went to school or what my more traditional day job is. So today on the blog I’m sharing 25 things you may not know about me! Let’s go:

    1. Tedi is my full name – it’s not short for anything.
    2. I grew up in Minneapolis but I’ve also lived in Boston, Chicago and, now, NYC.
    3. I went to college at Boston University and grad school at Northwestern University.
    4. I have a Master’s degree in counseling psychology, with a specialization in child assessment and intervention.
    5. My day job is working with children facing medical traumas.
    6. My favorite blog post I’ve ever written is this one.
    7. My most popular blog post is this one.
    8. One of my favorite books is The Secret.
    9. Fostering animals is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things I do. I’m so grateful every single day to have started doing it.
    10. When I first moved to NYC it was just to try it out for three months…that was two and a half years ago!
    11. My New York apartment is the smallest one I’ve ever had, but also my favorite one I’ve ever had.
    12. I used to be fluent in American Sign Language. I’m out of practice now but every once in a while I get to use it at work and it comes back to me.
    13. One of the prettiest places I’ve ever visited is St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. You can read my full post on it here and see my pics of St. John’s gorgeous crystal clear water.
    14. I changed my diet and started my blog after reading My Beef With Meat. You can read my full post on how it led me to change my diet and start my blog here.
    15. Long before I started eating a plant-based diet one of my good friends told me she was giving up meat and dairy and I told her she was crazy (so rude of me!). But just goes to show how much people can change!
    16. My friends say I have “Tedi-isms” aka things I say that are meant to be really positive but I have my own special way of articulating them. For example, you’ll often hear me say “I’m so happy I’m mad.” or “I love this so much I want to throw it across the room.” or “That is so cute I feel sick.” I think it’s an overextension of cute aggression (look it up, it’s a real thing!). So if you hear me say something like, “OMG that’s so cute it makes me want to puke!” know it’s meant to be a good thing. And there will be no real puking. 🙂
    17. I used to have bad seasonal allergies and I don’t anymore! I attribute the fact that I don’t to a combination of homeopathy and a dairy-free diet.
    18. For a long time after going vegan, the thought of eating meat and dairy didn’t gross me out, but after a few years something shifted and now it really does.
    19. Dairy actually grosses me out even more than meat.
    20. Farmers markets are seriously one of my favorite things.
    21. My favorite way to get around New York is walking. If the walk is under 50 minutes, and I don’t have to have heels on, chances are I’m walking. Because of that more often than not you’ll find me in sneakers.
    22. I just checked my phone and last month I walked an average of 3.9 miles per day.
    23. I’m not really blonde. I’m naturally brunette and it wasn’t until after college that I colored my hair for the first time. I’ve been blonde ever since.
    24. I’m an expert celebrity spotter and really good at painting nails.
    25. It means so much to me when non-vegan people tell me they tried something vegan because of  me.

    xo,

    Tedi

  • life
  • Meet Peachy

    PeachyPeachyPeachyPeachyPeachyPeachyPeachy

    Meet Peachy. My current foster dog. This little lady is in the market for someone to love her, cherish her and give her all the belly rubs a girl could ask for, for as long as she lives. She’s looking for someone who will accept her even if she can’t see very well and even if she decides to growl at big dogs on occasion, because hey, she had to learn to survive on the streets of NYC, so how could you blame her for being cautious when meeting someone new? She’s looking for someone who promises to never, ever dump her in a park again to fend for herself, shivering through the night just hoping to make it to the next day…

    In return she promises to greet you everyday with more excitement than you’ve probably ever received before. She promises to make sure you’re safe and warm by snuggling with you quietly whenever you have to get work done. And she promises to always wag her tail when you talk to her, just to let you know how much your very being makes her happy.


    Peachy is my 11th foster dog. She is sweet as can be, especially once she gets to know you. She was found by a good samaritan all by herself in a park at 5:30 in the morning, most likely dumped there by someone who didn’t want her anymore. Something that happens far too often. She will be so loyal to her forever person, as she’s already so loyal to me. As you can tell from her photos she has cataracts that have left her visually impaired, but despite those impairments she gets around incredibly well. She sometimes gets a little nervous around strangers, but like I said, how could you blame her?

    She gives the best greetings ever. Whether you’re coming home after 2 minutes away or two hours, she will literally jump for joy whenever she sees you. Fostering Peachy has truly been a privilege. She deserves nothing but love for the rest of her life. If you’re interested in adopting Peachy, you can email me at tedi@tedisarah.com.

    xo,

    Tedi

  • inspiration
  • The Amazing Day-Day

    Day DayDay DayDay DayDay DayDay DayIMG_0962Day Day

    Meet my most recent foster, Day-Day. He is truly a dream dog in every way. I cannot say enough good things about him. However, I never would have known the amazingness of Day-Day had I only judged him from our first meeting at the shelter. This little guy reminded me of such an important life lesson about judgment, stress, and the power of love…


    “Oh no. I can’t do this. I made a mistake.” was the first thing to cross my mind when I picked up Day-Day at the shelter. He was barking the loudest, most piercing bark I’d ever heard. It was incessant and made me want to plug my ears. He was so dirty, his fur was full of mats and he was covered in his own urine and feces. As we left the shelter he barked aggressively at a woman we passed on the street, and again I thought, “Oh no. What have I done? I can’t foster this dog.”

    I told myself…

    His bark is so loud, he will disrupt me and my neighbors. 

    He’s covered in his own feces and urine, he’s going to have so many accidents. 

    He barked at that woman on the street, he’s going to be aggressive. 

    He is too difficult, I cannot do this.

    And even though, as a shelter volunteer and foster mom, I should have known better, I judged him. I made a snap judgment about how he would be in a happy, safe environment, by how he was acting in a stressful, scary environment. And in doing so, I made a terrible mistake, because I almost gave up on one of the sweetest, most amazing dogs I’ve ever known.

    In reality, in a safe, comfortable, loving environment, Day-Day was a totally different dog.

    He was housetrained from day one and never had a single accident. 

    He never, ever barked. Not one single time after we left the shelter. 

    He was kind and gentle to humans and animals alike. 

    He let children pet him and bunnies sniff him, all with a sweet demeanor and happy tail.

    He was happy to go for walks or happy to just relax and cuddle.

    He was always well-behaved. He never did anything naughty or mischievous.

    He was happy to wake up early or sleep in – whatever I preferred, he was happy with.

    He was, simply put, just the best boy.

    And the fact that once we got home he proved to not only be a pretty good dog, but one of the sweetest, easiest, most well-behaved dogs I’ve ever known, reminded me of how stressful the shelter environment can be.

    At the shelter Day-Day went to the bathroom on himself not because he doesn’t know not to, but because he had no choice. No one had had time to let him out since the day before.

    At the shelter Day-Day was barking so loud because he was stressed and scared. He had a bad case of kennel cough so he felt like crap. There was no air conditioning and it was 90 degrees outside, so that made him feel even more like crap. He was uncomfortable in so many different ways. He was barking not to be annoying, but because he needed help.

    At the shelter he barked aggressively at that woman because he didn’t know he was safe yet. He had been through so much, more than we will ever know, and he was terrified. He didn’t know yet who to trust versus who he needed to protect himself from. And with just a little bit of love, that initial sign of aggressive behavior disappeared forever.

    The difference between Day-Day at the shelter, and Day-Day once he was home, reminded me how important it is not to judge a book by its cover.

    To have empathy and try to stand in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s a person or an animal, before ever judging them.

    To remember that any dog at a shelter has been through tremendous stress, and just as we would not be our best selves in the conditions listed above, neither are they.

    And to remember that behind every shelter dog, lies so, so much potential to be the companion of a lifetime.


    Day-Day has been adopted, but there are millions of other dogs just like him sitting in shelters looking for their forever home everyday. To find dogs in your area look up your nearest shelters or visit petfinder.com.

    xo,

    Tedi