No, we're not trying to trick you into unsuspectingly bringing home the canine version of a tornado (unless that sounds good to you?). These doggie adolescents and young adults genuinely are some of the most fun pups to work with. We can't get enough of them and we hope there are enough of you out there who agree to get some of these amazing goofballs the heck out of the shelter.
See, the shelter is no place for a canine teenager. They are way overrepresented on kill lists in shelters nation wide. They are labeled as naughty behavior problem dogs. They're called "unadoptable." They jump & bark & wiggle in excitement when potential adopters near their kennels and then don't understand why they're passed by in a blur of words like, "oh my" and "what a handful."
Are they a handful? Yeah, I suppose you could say that. But they are awesome. They are endless fun, affection, entertainment, adventure, and some of the best teachers around. They are pure curiosity and joy. And, at the end of a few months of hard work and silliness, you get to spend your life with an incredible adult dog with whom you've established a bond and comradarie built on mutual respect, growth, shared experience, and a good dose of humor and fun.
The tricky part is those interveneing months and usually what happened right before them. Most of these dogs have almost the same exact story. If you work or volunteer at a shelter or rescue, you probably already know it by heart. Someone (or maybe an entire family) wanted a puppy. It was cute and small and roly poly fun and they loved it.
Then, it started to grow up. It stopped being a small puppy and became a big, energetic, adolescent dog. Maybe it jumped on the furniture. Maybe it knocked the toddler down in overexcited enthusiasm. It needed training. It needed the same love the puppy did but it also needed guidance, boundaries, expectations. Instead, it got dumped at the shelter.
At APA!, these dogs pop up instantly on the Behavior Team roster. When we meet them, they are confused, adorable, and so happy to be getting positive attention from a person that it hurts your heart. Sometimes, it also hurts your arm when they get so excited that they put it in their mouth. If you're really lucky, they may leave some muddy paw prints on that sweet new shirt you wore volunteering. You'll learn to wear mud friendly clothes very quickly. :-)
And all of those muddy paw prints, smudges of dog slobber, and hours spent working with a dog that someone else is going to get to take home are so completely worth it as a volunteer. As an adopter, it's even more amazing. The mouthing and jumping will stop. The dog will start showing off the tricks it's learned. It will look up at you expectantly and you'll swear it feels proud. You will definitely feel proud. You'll also have a loyal best friend and partner that you can't wait to strut around town with.
My own dog was 6 months old when I adopted her and, to put it nicely, a "hot mess." She is now 9 years old and appalled at the behavior of the naughty teenage dogs she meets. She may be too dignified to acknowledge her past but I will never forget the wonderful and ridiculous moments we shared as she learned how to not be a maniac and I learned what it really meant to have a dog.
Still not convinced? Come out and meet one of the dogs pictured above and see if they don't steal your heart on the spot. I mean, how could they not?