Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
I love dogs. I remember being a kid and begging my mom and dad for one and having to wait and wait and wait for one. I remember the drive to get our first dog, going to the breeder’s property, picking up Brandy in the minivan, and driving back to the house. It is one of those memories that lingers in your mind forever and every few years something triggers it and you stop what you’re doing to recall the feel, the smell, and the moment. Over the course of my lifetime I have had four “family” dogs. When I left home at 18 for college I was too busy to justify raising a dog, going to school full time, and working full time. As soon as I finished school I became a teacher which required way too much time to justify it, and when I became an administrator the light of having a dog became even dimmer.
One of the perks of working for the ISJL is that they care about their employees, and exemplify what it means to be an organization that gives their team time to have balance of work and life. Thus, after 11 years of waiting for a dog I was finally able to explore this opportunity. Of course, being a child of the ’90s I did what most people my age do: I took to Facebook.
I asked for advice… and out came an overwhelming chorus saying that I should adopt from a shelter.
Now, I grew up hearing stories about “shelter dogs” and how they do not adjust well, are dangerous, and should be looked at very cautiously. But, I took the advice of my friends and family and decided to go check out a local shelter.
I told the shelter director my story, my housing parameters, and my preferences, and off we went on a tour of the facility. Upon opening the door to where the dogs are caged my heart broke. There were hundreds of crates, filled with dogs begging for a chance to get out. The shelter director knew the story of every single dog; not just a simple story, no, she knew how old they were, where she found them, their health history, their demeanor, and on and on.
After a lot of time spent looking at sweet dog after sweet dog, I finally came to Belle. As they say, she chose me. She came right up to the door of the crate, sat, smiled big, and gave kisses. When I went inside the crate to get closer she cuddled right up and didn’t leave my side. I knew she was the one for me. Less than 48 hours later she was in my home, in my arms, and we have been inseparable since.
As much as I love talking about Belle and how amazing she is, there is a bigger purpose behind this blog post. Belle is one of millions of shelter animals that need love. As a community engagement professional, I feel all the more passionate now about this notion: Adopt, don’t shop! And if you can’t bring an animal into your home but want to make a real difference, volunteer with these special pups. They don’t ask for much: hugs, pets, walks, and occasional play. If you are looking for another way to make the world a better place I HIGHLY recommend volunteering at a shelter. A lot can be done in 30 minutes.
Share your love and help make the life of another being just a bit better when you find some free time to spare. My beautiful Mississippi mutt and I will thank you — and as noted in an earlier Southern & Jewish post about Jewish life lessons learned from a shelter dog, this is a very special “muttzvah”!