“What do you want, a boy or a girl?” That had to be the most asked question I got when I announced I was pregnant with my first son.

“I don’t care as long as it’s not ugly.” Pretty shallow, right?

People rushed to tell me that all babies are beautiful. I had twin brothers who proved that to be an untrue statement. They grew into very handsome boys and men but even my mother had to encourage people to tell the truth when their eyes fell on Michael and Merrill. They each weighed under three pounds at birth and had cradle cap from their brow down the full skull. They looked like tiny old men. As a big sister, I knew these were not beautiful babies!

After getting over my totally self-absorbed statement people would say that all that mattered was that they were healthy. Well, duh. Of course, I didn’t want an unhealthy baby. That’s a given. Nobody in their right minds prays for an unhealthy baby.

I ended up with two gorgeous, healthy boys, being almost ten pounds helped, but holding them in my arms I instantly knew that looks truly didn’t matter. I would have happily loved a baby that needed a little time to grow into their looks or one who was always going to be different than other children. As a mother I can tell you it’s not about looks but about the heart. And so it is with dogs.

Last week as we announced that Rusty and other long-stay dogs were going to their new homes a member of our community posted a response to my message. I asked her if I could use it instead as a post for everyone to read because it’s vitally important. Thankfully, Karen Lamb agreed because her words are powerful and important.

“One of the things I’m going to share in my comment is very concerning to me; my heart falls, knowing that too many humans out there WANT a certain breed because it’s a higher-liked status breed which brings envy or admiration from the social world.

And SOME breeds are NEEDED because they are genetically wired to perform certain jobs, and to do the job well, often with NO or very little training, such as guardian livestock or herding dogs. Very small dogs which many senior citizens or those with different abilities can handle and care for easiest are also popular.

But what troubles me is how so many, too many people, WANT the fluffy, the cute, the confident, and happy dogs or pups. They want them because it’s what they or their kids want and that can sometimes remove the reality of NEED.

What about the abandoned, the mis-cared for, the neglected, the abused, the displaced dogs who had experiences of gloom and despair? Just the changes involved in being rescued, spending time in the Kentucky kennel, and then being transported to Oshkosh may have affected some dogs more than others.

The “basic, non-special, not glamorous” type dogs and pups who may have the greater NEED to have a home are often overlooked. Too many humans look at what they themselves WANT and have no regard for a dog’s NEEDS which are truly quite simple. Dogs only want to have a home and LOVE.

Sadly, if some people don’t get a dog or pup that is cute or fluffy or happy or confident, the ones that most people want, they might not take good care of the dog they do get. Maybe they won’t invest time or money on the more difficult dogs, the ones with health issues or separation anxiety, the ones who aren’t oozing with traditional adorableness. Maybe a dog has to be more than just available to get someone’s attention.”

Karen makes some very good points. Certain breeds are simply more popular. Beagles, Huskies, Labs, and small dogs such as Shih Tzu, Chihuahuas, and Yorkies usually go out the door within days if not hours of being posted online. Of course, every litter of puppies we get is super popular.

“I think about my dear Garther each day,” Karen continues. “He had a face and a body-type everyone kept turning away from and passing up for something that was more appealing to their human eyes. Garther is a number one best dog filled with appreciation, love, gentleness, and a good sense of humor. I ask each of you who can see my post: take the hemline out from your hearts, and open them to a wider perception in your bringing a dog or two or three into your hearts and your home.”

Every dog we get has the potential to grow into that number one best dog. It’s not about looks or breed. It’s about someone taking a chance and loving them because they have needs and will be ridiculously grateful because someone cared.

When a hound dog with a slightly homely face finds a home or someone falls in love with a blind ten-year-old we celebrate. That overweight pug or the dog who had mange and now has patches of missing hair still has the ability to love. We’ve had tripods and dogs who were in housefires and though it took a little longer they all found homes.

Not only do we have awesome dogs but we also have amazingly kind and generous people who adopt them. We have people like Karen who adopted a dog who was not ready for his Disney movie closeup and we have many, many more just like Karen.

People adopt dogs for many different reasons. As I write this I can’t help but remember when I brought my grandson to visit dogs one cold day in March.

He met four dogs but the dog who stole his heart is ten-year-old Spice. I asked him why Spice instead of a puppy or a big dog to run with and take to the dog park. His answer made me tear up a bit. “Grandma, everyone wants those dogs. An old dog will stay here a long time because the only thing she’s good for is loving you.”

All dogs are really good at loving you. And that’s all that really matters unless you actually own a sheep farm and need a sheepdog or you live someplace with a weight restriction. There are obvious reasons to be specific but next time you are hoping to find the right dog think about Karen and Garther. Your perfect dog might be hiding right in front of you if you just look into his eyes.

One last thing. Here’s Garther! What a number one best dog.