I have a Facebook friend who suffers from anxiety and depression. She was seeing a therapist before the pandemic began but she stopped because she hated doing online appointments. She doesn’t live in my state and so there’s really nothing I can do it help her.

Let’s call my friend Alice. That’s not her name, but one can only use pronouns so often, right?

So Alice got laid off at work further taking away her ability to do anything meaningful and that made her even more depressed. I suggested doing volunteer work but no one will let her come in and volunteer in her areas of interest because of Covid. We don’t allow volunteers either which is hard on the shelter and on the volunteers who need to be doing something they love.

I started sharing pictures and stories of my dog and then branched out and began showing some of our rescue dogs. She would like or comment on the dog posts but eventually, Alice stopped posting at all. I instant message her to check on her every few days because, honestly, from the things she said I wanted to do a wellness check on her but I didn’t have an address. So every few days I’d spend some time chatting with her.

Alice stopped brushing her teeth, always a bad sign, stopped going outside for walks, didn’t get dressed, and started saying things that scared me.

I noticed she perked up when I posted dog pictures or talked about walking my dog or shared a story about something funny he had done. At some point I asked Alice if she had ever had a dog and she told me about several they had owned while growing up and I could tell how much she had loved those dogs. I asked her had she considered getting a dog as a companion. It turns out she had been looking and every time she tried to adopt a dog someone else go their first. Her lease allowed her to have a dog but only one under twenty-five pounds and rescues and shelters either had no dogs or those that were much larger. She was getting more and more depressed and had stopped even considering getting a dog.

Sound familiar to anyone? We get messages and calls every day asking if we are getting lapdogs or puppies in soon. The large dogs we get find wonderful homes but a lot of people need smaller dogs. Every time we get a small dog in people drive for hours to adopt only to find out they are gone.

Back to Alice. I sent her a list of suggestions on how to be the lucky one to adopt a dog.

1. Go to the shelters within driving distance and get approved for adoption. Some shelters require a home visit or a fence or something else that might be a stumbling block right now. If their site isn’t updated with requirements call and ask that they email them to you.

2. Expand your search. Going to PetFinder.com or Adoptapet.com and going from a thirty mile to a sixty-mile radius from home might get you more choices. Again, get pre-approved everywhere so you’re ready to move quickly. Please note that their sites aren’t updated in real-time so that means sometimes a dog is listed when in reality they might already be adopted.

3. Do your homework and decide if you want a puppy or a young adult or a senior. We get all ages in small dogs but we tend to get those who are no longer puppies and many will be five or six years old. What we find is that these dogs have often lived in homes and tend to be trained and have been surrendered for reasons such as moving to a nursing home, illness, or death of an owner. That’s great news for those looking for smaller dogs. Obviously, that’s not always the case but you never know who might be the best dog for you if you don’t do your homework and expand your horizons.

4. The majority of our puppies and smaller dogs are being adopted via a deposit and that is happening nationwide. We want everyone to have the same chance to find their perfect dog but the reality is that we can only rescue so many with each transport. People around the country are opting to put down a non-refundable, non-transferable deposit to hold a dog. We allow people to do that and keep the dog with us for five days without a boarding fee. This is not our favorite way to do things but it has worked out amazingly well during this time when the demand for dogs is so high.

5. Check the website every day, even a few times a day. We have had dogs “adopted” via deposit only to never leave the shelter at all because the person changed their mind. Maybe their other dog didn’t react well or their landlord said no. There are many reasons adoptions fall through before the dog ever leaves. So please keep checking!

6. Follow any shelters you are considering on Facebook. We announce that we will have dogs on Facebook a few days before they arrive. We tell you exactly when they will go on our website and then we list every dog individually on Facebook and people forward those posts like crazy. Not every shelter is as proactive as we are but for those who use social media, you might get a head start there.

7. Keep trying and know that your dog will find you and you’ll know when you know.

Back to Alice. Alice actually lives in Texas and I was able to help her find a large rescue about an hour from home and she followed these steps and she found a four-year-old Shih Tzu/Poodle and she is a whole new person. She is still laid off, still isolated from family and friends, but she has a purpose. She gets up every day, she brushes her teeth, she goes on walks with her dog, she has someone to talk to, and is no longer alone. Thanks to her dog she is back in therapy, she is doing Zoom events to meet people and connect with family, and she owes it all to getting her dog. Many of us can say that we owe our lives to our dogs and it’s never been truer than in 2020 and now moving into 2021.

We know how frustrating it is not getting a dog as soon as you want one. But at a time when shelters are closing, rescue rates are down, grants and events are basically not happening, we managed to rescue and find homes for eight hundred dogs! We are working to get more dogs of all sizes and ages in and we will let you know when the next transport is arriving. Please know that everyone has the exact same chance at adopting any of our dogs because we do not hold dogs or give special treatment to anyone.

I know there are many reading this who, like Alice, owe their sanity and existence to their new dog. Please do the work to find a dog that is a good fit for you. It’s worth the wait.