How To Adopt A Dog From A Shelter – My Story

How To Adopt A Dog From A Shelter

I have always been a dog lover ever since I was a child, and now that I’m in my twenties I’ve decided that it was time for me to take that huge step and adopt a fur baby, the biggest question in my head was “how to adopt a dog from a shelter?” because I wanted to have that experience of saving a life instead of buying one on a pet store.

For some reason, I thought I had to provide the shelter with personal/legal documents such as birth certificate, social security number, an ID, etc. To my surprise, none of that was needed.

The Process

How to adopt a dog from a shelter while also dealing with your mental health? This was a little controversial for me, I’m not going to lie, it’s still an endless debate in my brain, but sometimes we just need to embrace what we desire and start the process of self-acceptance when it comes to feeling confident enough to take care of another breathing creature.

I was really nervous on my way to the shelter. I didn’t know what to expect, what to do, nor what to say.

how to adopt a dog from a shelterI had been researching for nearby-local shelters and came across one that was a fit for me. I went there on a Saturday, was explained the whole adoption process and got all of the information I needed to make the desicion to adopt a dog.

In my case and for this adoption shelter, the only thing I needed was my name, current address, a phone number and that was basically it!

No extra documents or information were necessary.

Anxiety and Indecision

If you’re like me, you’d probably go to a shelter and feel the need to adopt all of those dogs. I felt like I had a tight knot in my chest that wasn’t going to let me allow myself to pick a specific dog.

I wanted a dog that didn’t grow much and it was hard trying to manage my anxiety levels on feeling guilty if I made the wrong decision. After all, one of those dog’s life depended on my decision.

how to adopt a dog from a shelterI came across a few dogs that I instantly fell in love with, but one of them was sick, the other one was just separated from its brother and they didn’t know what reaction it may have, and the other one was going to be a huge dog.

I was somewhat disappointed that I hadn’t found my perfect match and that I was not going to be able to give a life-long home for a dog. I came across this small dog that I was about to take but the volunteer told me he was going to be as big as a Rottweiler and that was a big no from me (I wanted a small-medium dog). I felt so unconsciously guilty, but right next to him was this beautiful 3-month old puppy who was scared to even be around the other dog. Something in me knew that I had to meet her.

I asked the volunteer if she was ready for adoption and they told me that she was ready. I was a little nervous, the dog didn’t really seem like she cared who was holding her, or what was being done, but I still decided to take a couple of minutes with her.

She was uncontrollably shaking as if no one ever had taken the time to pet her and spend time with her. That broke my heart. Even though that in my brain there were still those small echo pieces telling me that I was not fit enough to be a dog owner because of my mental state, I decided that I was taking her with me, and so I did.

Finally, Home

The whole ride back to my house was full of “what if’s” and “am I really doing the right thing knowing that my mental state barely lets me do things for myself” and “I don’t want her to suffer”. As you can tell, this was all a really big step in my life. Normally, I don’t like making decisions on my own because I don’t like overthinking too much and if I make a decision, then I’m stuck with the consequences of said act. It was really a struggle, but for some reason, I was determinate to make these puppy’s life something that she didn’t know she deserved and was impossible to have access on that shelter.

Immediately after I adopted her I went straight to PetSmart to get her the necessary things that she may need along the way, such as a bed, toys, food, pads and more toys!

The first day home was truly a roller coaster. She had just turned 3 months old that exact day that I adopted her and it’s still mind-blowing to me how a dog can change your life and make it better in such a small period of time.

The first week has gone by and she has been a little headache threatening to blast a full-on mental breakdown, but luckily I’ve managed. I know she’s still a puppy. She wants to play, bite everything and just be as messy as she can be. Some days it’s manageable and others it’s a little insane, but we both manage. We both keep each other sane, occupied and happy.

Life Before Olivia

how to adopt a dog from a shelter

Going back to the same non-stop question of how to adopt a dog from a shelter while being mentally ill, it was all draining to just breathe and feel like life didn’t have any sense of meaning. Life was just a mixture of waking up late, no motivation whatsoever, feeling like I was just wasting my time and energy while being stuck in the same situations over and over, and on the other hand, it was mostly just suicidal thoughts. That was how my days normally went before I adopted Olivia; yes that’s her name, in honor of my all-time favorite TV character Olivia Benson.

My life today

What can I say? She brightens up my life in so many ways. I feel like I finally have a motive to keep fighting my everyday battles and someone whom I can share with all of the crazy everyday tasks and situations. Someone I can uncomfortably love and receive the same affection from her part.

She has become my best friend, confident and truly a lifesaver. Not only did I save her life, but she also saved mine, and I could not find the words to describe how thankful I am that I had this opportunity.

Mental illnesses are really complicated, life-changing experiences that often times leave us on the edge of self-destruction. Luckily, if we feel like we’re strong enough to maintain and help another breathing creature, I encourage you to take the necessary steps towards that new and fulfilling life that regards towards adopting a pet.

To wrap it all up, how to adopt a dog from a shelter in easy steps:

  • Research the shelter
  • Try to find a type of dog/cat that you may like
  • Mentally prepare for the new family addition
  • Emotionally prepare yourself
  • Make sure that you’re financially stable enough to take care of your pet
  • Take a deep breath, it is going to be okay and it will be worth it!


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10 thoughts on “How To Adopt A Dog From A Shelter – My Story”

  1. Interesting to read here and I must say that you have helped to clear all my worries through this post because I was already giving up on the idea of adopting a dog due to my anxiety of how the blending would feel with the family. This is a great post and thanks so much for providing so much details on it. Personally, I am okay with this. Thanks

  2. This is really touching indeed. Making the decision to own a pet is a very nice one and not everyone has the courage to adopt a pet and actually take full responsibility for it. I commend your effort in adopting Olivia and I believe she will be fun to be with. When my daughter was all over me to adopt a dog I felt it wasn’t necessary but gave in to it. On getting there were so many dogs that I felt should be taken care of and that was one reason i have decided to take full responsibility of mine. 

    1. Thank you! I really much appreciate you taking that huge step and giving a forever home to a dog that desperately needed it. Not everyone understand the power adopting a pet has. You’re saving a life and adding new companionship to your everyday tasks. It’s truly an amazing feeling!

  3. The fact that i have come to learn something tangible from this post is satisfying. The aesthetic of your website is nice and the simplicity of the color selection makes it beautiful. After reading your story, I remembered what happened to me when I first got my dog. It has been a fun experience since then

  4. Olivia is so precious! I’m so glad you found a companion! My pup is a pain sometimes but other times he’s the only reason I leave the house, which is so good for my mental health, being able to take a walk. Playing fetch with him or other games allows me to take a few moments to forget about anything else that’s going on, step away from my phone, and just play with him. And of course puppy snuggles are the best. He’s 10 now, but a small dog so he’s always a puppy to me. 

    If you were to do it over again, would you suggest getting the supplies before adopting the dog? To have the house prepared before you get them? I suppose that would only work if you had already visited the shelter and knew which dog you were getting because of size and stuff for crates/beds. Would you ever consider visiting the shelter and then visiting the dog you’d chosen a few times before taking them home? Just to give yourself more time to prepare? Or do you think immediate adoption is a better option? Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you for the compliments towards Olivia. That truly means a lot! 
      I also have a 15 year old dog, so I know the feeling! They’re still babies in our eyes and that’s truly a beautiful thing. 

      I was actually going to go to the pet store before adopting my puppy but I wasn’t aware of what type of dog I may have been getting so I didn’t wanted to get them something that doesn’t fit their puppy/dog standard. It’s complicated for me because I don’t have a car. Therefore, I asked my neighbor to take me, so adopting immediately was my only option. But if I had the opportunity to spend more time at the shelter and getting to know all of the dogs, believe me, I would’ve taken the opportunity. It is also heartbreaking when you get to that one point where you have to decide which dog it’s your best fit. I still feel guilty because I truly wanted to take all of them with me. I just hope with all of my heart that someone out there takes the time to give a permanent home to these dogs. 

  5. Hi. This article warms the heart! Thank you for adopting and not buying because there are way too many dogs in shelters. I think you and your puppy were meant for each other!

     From your story, I think the puppy is also experiencing some degree of anxiety. I wonder if the puppy was born in the shelter or left there. 

    Which breed did you get? Is it a Jack Russell?

    1. Ah yes! That’s one of the most important points when adopting. When you buy a dog their parents are basically being forced to procreate so they can earn some extra dollars from that puppy, but by adopting, you’re giving a dog a chance to live a healthy and happy life. 

      I think she was born there because when I went to the shelter there were some dogs outside that people threw over there because it’s a “shelter” which makes it even more sad, the fact that people can be this cruel to an animal without thinking of that dogs well-being it’s just inhumane.

      Honestly, I have no idea what breed she is! I can’t quite remember the breed they stamped on the adoption certificate, but from the research I did, that breed that they stated was not even close to what Olivia is. I think she’s a mixture, but I’m not exactly sure. 

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