Rescue a dog, it’s more rewarding than you know, trust me

Corey Rutkin, Opinions Editor

When I was in eighth grade, my parents were asked to come meet a 8-month old English Mastiff puppy at a friend’s house. Although young, the dog was already in the ballpark of 100lbs. The dog needed a home. My mom is a veterinarian and our friends often come calling for her advice about their own dog’s ailments or in situations like this. Her name was Lola.

Several weeks after my parents met Lola, she came to live with us. My entire life, we’ve had multiple dogs in the house, but we hadn’t a rescue in a long time. The dog was troubled. It was very clear she had been abused. For weeks I’d go to pet her and she’d wince, expecting a punch. Once she realized our home was different, she grew very protective of us. Mastiffs are extremely protective to begin with, but Lola is truly a beast not to be messed with. We don’t lock our front door. I don’t even have a key to the house. At her peak, Lola weighed upwards of 150lbs. Her strength is overwhelming.

There’s more to Lola than just her ability to protect my family and scare the hell out of my UPS man. She’s one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever met.

Over time, she has learned the sound of each car’s sounds. If one of our cars pulls in, she will not bark. Any other car and it’s the loudest two minutes of barking you’ll ever hear.

Her empathy is unmatched too. Years ago, a terminally ill friend of our family came over for dinner. Sick, troubling with his speech, Lola seemed to grasp the situation immediately. She spent the entire evening sitting by the gentleman, kissing him, not leaving him alone. It was remarkable. Moments like that night are just a microcosm of the dog Lola has come to be.

Unfortunately, Lola’s sick. Big dogs do not live all that long and once ailments start, they don’t seem to stop. But, I thought I would take some space to share how much Lola has meant to me and share some information about how many dogs are in need of rescue.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that over three million dogs enter animal shelters every year. These numbers are on the decline. Less dogs, and stray animals as a whole are entering shelters each year. Still though, over half a million dogs are euthanized in these shelters each year. Less than, a quarter of dog owners get their dogs from a shelter.

While rescuing a dog or any animal can be frightening, it can be unbelievably rewarding. Over the years, Lola has become a part of the Rutkin family. Most of our neighbors and friends think of us as the Rutkins, those people crazy enough to have Lola. Truly though, we are crazy about Lola. It will be a sad day when she’s not here. And not just because I’ll need to get a key to my home, but because she’s been such a special part of my life.

Everyone has special bonds with their dogs. All I’m saying is, next time you think about getting a dog, consider a rescue. Go to the local sheltter and meet the dogs. There’s likely to be a handful of great dogs who, until then have been dealt a poor hand. See if you can change their luck.