Why I Believe Dog Adoption Takes More Than Heart: Part 1

Adopting a stray dog isn’t a job for the faint of heart. Kevin Roberts opened his heart to a feral dog, but would love be enough to fix her?


Scrolling through my social media feed looks something like this: babies, weddings, recipes, fake news. Wash, rinse, repeat.


Wait a second… BAM… what’s this I see? An available adoptable dog stops the news feed scroll. He’s beautiful – a sable-coated, bright-eyed herding dog. Bright eyes gleam with intelligence, while his athletic stance demonstrates his potential as a sporting dog. Medium-sized, well-muscled and gorgeous – just my type.


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My heart breaks for him. According to his profile, he had been adopted and returned 5 times in his two short years. Five times! He needed an active home. He wasn’t good with cats, kids or other dogs. This is a dog I could love.


But his needs were high, and I have a while I don’t have a cat, no kids and no dogs would be a problem. I know I can manage this dog, I can do right by him. But is this decision to be determined by the heart or of the head?


Stop the train. Back up the bus, bud. Cue the time machine music; this is a path I have trod before.


I was 21, had recently graduated university, and was living a life that was more rooted in ideology than practicality. Boasting all the fresh ideals of a liberal arts education, I was ready to save the world! I was working at an animal welfare organization, and was out on a call.


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A complaint had come in from some area farmers. A pack of 16 feral dogs was threatening their livestock. While the dogs hadn’t killed any cattle yet, they had been seen taking deer. It was clear the dogs couldn’t stay there.


How did the pack of dogs get here in the first place? It turns out that some genius had the idea to create the ideal designer dog, breeding German Shepherds with Dobermans and Collies. Turned out the dogs weren’t big sellers. The man was left with unwanted pups that quickly grew into unwanted dogs.


While the dogs continued to breed (because neutering/spaying wasn’t part of the investment), the man took no responsibility for these pups and let them lose. They continued to breed and fend for themselves. This led us to the present situation of 16, larger dogs, running loose.


The dogs were wary of humans, and needed to be corralled and caught with catch poles. One by one, we loaded them into the vans and drove them back to the shelter. While determining the best kennel arrangements for them, we let the dogs run in the backyard. Watching them move with such fluid grace was a beautiful sight. I think right there is when I fell in love.


Her name was Willow. She was a gorgeous black and red dog, sporting long legs, a sleek body, and a comically long nose. She had the deepest brownest eyes. A gentle soul, Willow was constantly being attacked by the pack, never once fighting back. My heart swelled. I loved her at once with all of my heart. I made a decision with my heart and took her home.


Read Part 2 of Kevin’s journey with Willow, and what he learned by following his heart.

Kevin Roberts
Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts lives for adventure. Together with his pack of rescue dogs and his husband, he spends as much time outdoors as possible. Kevin lives by the motto: "Get outside and play with your dogs!

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