Heart And Soul: The Joy Of Adopting A Dog

Author Amy Newmark shares personal experiences about how adoptable dogs enrich our souls immeasurably


Marya Morin went right to the local shelter to get her new dog. As she wrote in her story “Gentle Giant” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What? “I checked each cage. Dog after hopeful dog approached, tail wagging, trusting eyes begging me to take it home.”


Marya, a resident of St. Lin des Laurentides, Quebec, ended up choosing a quiet, but immense, 120-pound dog that had spent six of his 18 months of life in the shelter. Like so many rescued dogs, “He loved unconditionally and was simply grateful to be a part of our lives. Huge as he was, the biggest part of him was the heart that stored so much love, loyalty and perception.”


More than 3 million dogs and cats are adopted from shelters in the United States each year, but unfortunately an equal number don’t find a new home and are euthanized. There are almost 200,000 dogs and cats in shelters in Canada. We have published hundreds of stories about the benefits of adopting dogs from shelters and rescue organizations. These dogs seem to know that they have been saved, and they invariably become grateful and loving family members.

I remember being awestruck by the temperament of my daughter’s Pug, Riley, who was found wandering the streets a couple of years ago. The poor little thing had apparently given birth and then been abandoned. Despite being a purebred, Riley was considered undesirable. She was either born with deformities or severely injured at some point in her life. The right side of her face is mushed in and she is missing all the teeth in her lower right jaw. Her tongue hangs out a few inches on the right side and she also has a tiny, blue, blind right eye and a big, brown, normal left eye.


When people see her, they stop and stare, take photos, and often laugh out loud, because after all, even normal Pugs look like aliens, and this is not a normal Pug. But to me, she is beautiful, and it’s because of her incredible disposition. From the moment my daughter adopted her, Riley was friendly, even-tempered, cuddly, and obedient.


Riley brings so much joy into our lives. I show her photos like I’m a proud grandma. One of my favorite photo sequences was taken recently when Riley was in our office and someone put a stuffed animal Pug in her bed with her. First, Riley looked at the dog’s face inquisitively, as if she knew this was another Pug. Then she sniffed the toy’s rear end to see if it was real. I still laugh every time I look at that photo of Riley “shaking hands” with a stuffed animal by sniffing its butt.


I haven’t had a dog in years, but if I ever stop working and traveling so much, I’m getting another one—at our local shelter!

Amy Newmark
Amy Newmark

Amy Newmark was a writer, speaker, Wall Street analyst and business executive in the worlds of finance and telecommunications for more than 30 years. Today she is publisher, editor-in-chief and coauthor of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book series. Her latest book, "Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?" is a heartwarming collection of stories shared by pet parents who have adopted abandoned and rescue dogs.

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