By Dr. Zeoli, Associate Veterinarian

4yeKi4Av__1keUROLi2CCuNgISDX190hgawixuJhnxkI am very excited that the holidays are here. Everything about this time of year is nostalgic from the warm gingerbread cookies, to the smell of the crackling fire beside the tree, to watching my favorite holiday comedy – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Remember the scene where cousin Eddie and his family show up in a trailer to surprise the Griswolds for the holidays? They may not have much, but he has the right idea when he introduces his dog: “And this here is our pride and joy, Snots!” And later Aunt Bethany arrives with a suspicious, wrapped package that is meowing. Clark explains the situation by saying; “They don’t have much money, so she takes things from the house.” Yes, pets and the holidays go hand-in-hand.

Why not consider adding an additional furry family member to your household this time of season? You don’t have to name your dog Snots or wrap up a cat. But you can go to your local animal shelter and see if any potential dogs or cats could be a good fit for your household!

Every year, approximately 7.6 million animals enter shelters. Of these, only about half are adopted or returned to their homes. And with about 178 million owned dogs and cats in the US, only about 23% of these were adopted. With so many cute and lovable animals looking for a home, give a gift to yourself and to the pet by inviting him or her into your home.

Not sure what kind of dog you are looking for? Shelters are filled with both pure-breeds and mixed-breeds. There are many rescue groups you can reach out to if you are interested in a specific breed. I personally love mixed breeds, or mutts. You really never know what you are going to get and their personalities are always so unique!

My husband and I have 2 small dogs. Pixie, our black mixed breed terrier, adopted from ARF, and Mr. Keoki, another playful mixed breed terrier adopted from the Washington Humane Society here in DC. Pixie grew up in the cow fields of central California and was eventually caught and put into a shelter. It took some time to get her adjusted to living indoors. But now that she is comfortable with it, she follows me everywhere around my house! Her favorite hobbies are barking at squirrels and going for car rides. Mr. Keoki was found wandering the streets of DC, alone and with a broken leg. Several surgeries later, he is now doing much better and even enjoys going to physical therapy here at Pet Dominion with Justin!

In addition, 2 kitties are also a part of our family. Baxter Baby, from MSPCA-Angell in Boston, was dropped off in the middle of the night with no history. He has become the king of our household. And finally, Olive, from the PEI Humane Society in Prince Edward Island, Canada. She was a shelter kitten who never knew life on the outside. She took a bit of time to become comfortable with us, but she has become quite the cuddler.

All four of our fur babies get along amazingly well and each adds their own personal touch to our home. They are always standing (or jumping) side-by-side to greet me as I walk through the door and they always know when to come and rest on my lap. I have learned that when you adopt, these animals, which are given a second chance at life, tend to be grateful. Cats are typically easier to adjust to a new home, but dogs can take some time to learn good behaviors. But be patient – I promise they will give back 100x what you put into them!

If you think you are ready for the commitment, just browse the websites of some of your local shelters. I guarantee you will see a lot of eager and smiling faces in need of a home for the holidays.  Do you have a happy rescue story of your own? Be sure to share your pet’s journey in the comments.

Happy Holidays from Pet Dominion!