What Adopting My Dog Has Taught Me.


Anyone who knows me knows that you don’t see me without my precious pup, Lambeau. My little man goes everywhere with me including every road trip, every gas station run and every walk to the mailbox. Sometimes it’s crazy to think I actually have a dog because I always wanted one growing up and was told “no.” Every birthday I would beg my parents, but the answer was always the same.

At the time I would’ve done anything to have a little companion. So when I finally moved out of my parents’ house, the first thing I did was go to the animal shelter. I always knew I wanted to adopt  because I’d volunteered at shelters and rescue groups. However, I never thought I would literally find the best thing to ever happen to me in the process.

So here’s a little backstory on Lambeau (and no I’m not a Packers fan, I just really liked the name). I really wanted a female puppy, but I knew the chances of me finding one at the Humane Society were slim to none. Most puppies are put into foster homes to give them a better chance of survival, but I decided to follow my gut and look anyways. I went to the front kennels where the dogs were kept and looked in every single one. Of course I wanted to take all of them home, but I was realistic.

After being disappointed and not feeling that spark with any of the dogs, a worker asked if I wanted to go to another building where they had placed some new rescues. I figured “why not” and followed her. I was looking through the kennels and started to get excited because I could see a few puppies.

As I came up to this particular kennel I noticed two small pups, one black and one blonde. They were so tiny and precious that I just had to hold them. I picked up the black female puppy and held her for a moment. She was relaxed and acted like she had no idea what was going on.

After holding her for a bit, I put her back and reached to the corner of the kennel to grab the pup’s brother. He was blonde and much smaller than her, and he had an underbite that was to die for. He was shaking and so unbelievably scared. As I held him, I just knew. I felt that instant bond I’d been looking for.

I took him outside to see if he would run and play. As soon as I sat him in the grass he started shaking and crying for me to hold him. Poor little thing was terrified. Two smaller kids walked by and said “oh mommy I want that one” as I was carrying this blonde beau around, but I gave them the “don’t even think about it kid” look. I asked how these precious babies ended up at the shelter, and the worker told me their story.

Lambeau and his sister had been placed in a big cardboard box and dumped on the side of a small abandoned country road. Thankfully, someone just happened to be driving down the road and stopped to see what was in the box. When they opened it they immediately brought them to the shelter.

Lambeau was only 3 months old at the time. I will never be able to thank that person enough, and I will never understand how someone can dump dogs. Thinking about it makes my blood boil.

After the story was finished (and I had bawled my eyes out), the worker told me to fill out an application. Once it was approved I was told I could take Lambeau home. That was one of the best days of my life. I was so happy and scared because I’d never had sole responsibility of another living being. I will never forget the way Lambeau looked at me that day. I always say “I saved him, and he saved me.”

Now three years later, I look back and realize that Lambeau has surprisingly taught me quite a bit about life. He has taught me:

  • When life deals you a tough hand, you get back up and dust yourself off: Lambeau was given an unfair start to life, but now he’s as spoilt as they come. You would never know he came from a shelter.
  • Loyalty really does exist: “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” – Josh Billings
  • Caring about someone else is more rewarding than caring about yourself: There is not a moment that goes by in which I regret my decision to adopt Lambeau. While dogs are expensive and require a lot of attention, his tail wags and wet kisses make it all worth while.
  • Why mothers are so protective of their young: I now understand why my mom was so overprotective of my growing up. I honestly don’t know what I would do if someone tried to hurt Lambeau. All I know is it wouldn’t be pretty.
  • What unconditional love feels like: When I’m sad, Lambeau senses it and lays with me until I get myself together. When I’m sick, he’s on his best behavior. When I’m happy, he wags his tail and runs around the house. He loves me no matter how I’m feeling or what I look like. Where can I get a man like that?
  • Dogs really are man’s best friend: I’ll admit that I frequently have conversations with Lambeau, and I often wonder what he’s thinking as I’m talking. I confess there are some days where I don’t go out with my friends because I’d rather hang out with Lambeau (yeah, he’s that cool).
  • Responsibility: No one can fully understand true responsibility until someone else is completely depending on them to survive. I have to feed him, let him out, give him his heart worm pill, bathe him, brush his teeth, get him groomed…you get the point.
  • Commitment: One of the most heartbreaking things is to see a family dump their dog at the shelter because they are “too old.” When I got Lambeau, I made a commitment to him and myself that I would care for him no matter what. I will never go back on that promise.
  • To cherish every moment: The most painful thing about getting a dog is knowing they won’t live as long as you. I wish Lambeau could live forever, but I know that’s unrealistic. When his time comes to cross the rainbow bridge, you better believe I will be there holding him. I literally cry just thinking about that.

With all of that being said, I honestly would encourage everyone to adopt an animal (especially if you plan on having children, it’s a great precursor). There are so many homeless animals that are sitting in a cold kennel feeling unwanted, scared and unloved.

Not only will adopting them save their life, but it will change yours. I will forever be an advocate for “adopt don’t breed.” If I wouldn’t have gone to the shelter that day there’s no telling what would’ve happened to Lambeau.

He’s helped me through my lowest lows, times when I felt like there was nothing left. He’s helped me celebrate my highest highs like my first house, my new job and moving to a new city. He has also helped me so much with my anxiety.

While he is far from an angel sometimes, he is my everything. The lessons Lambeau has taught me over the last three years are ones I will use forever. I never knew such a deep love existed until April 7, 2012. That day changed my life. “I saved him, he saved me.”


Myka Shantell💋

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