Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable Pet Week: Let’s Hear It For the Introverts!

I couldn’t let Petfinder’s Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable Pet Week go by without sticking up for my canine – and feline – counterparts: the timid guys and the bashful girls.

Pets aren’t in shelters because they’ve committed a crime. Sometimes their owner passes away, leaving no one to care for them. Sometimes their owner has to move and can’t take them along. Sometimes their owner no longer has the means to care for them. Sometimes their owner just isn’t very kind. They are moved from places they knew, places they felt secure – whether actually safe or not – to a building with new smells and sounds. Nothing is the same any more. They don’t know how they got there or if they will ever get out. Their owner is gone, replaced with dozens of strange people they’ve never seen before. They are surrounded by other animals they don’t know – some of whom they are sure they don’t like. They are prodded with medical tools, transported in noisy vehicles, plunked down in carriers, and after all that, they are left alone in a cage with no way out. The experience is nothing short of terrifying.

Many of these animals are plucky. They are able to roll with the changes and show off their best sides. Highly adaptable, these animals are the first to be noticed by potential adopters. They are the ones bouncing around their cages, rubbing their heads against petting hands, barking playfully with wagging tails. They appear fearless, fun, and friendly. Who wouldn’t bond with an animal like that instantaneously?

Sadly, there are also many animals who don’t recover so well. Animals who are more insecure, who have always been a little shy. They have lots of love to give but they are less trusting, more uncertain. These animals don’t rush to the door of their cages with a happy smile or mew. They hide in the corners, turn their backs, and flatten their ears. They pull away from reaching hands, curl their lips when someone moves a little too fast. All they want to do is disappear. Thus, they get passed over. Forgotten. People walk by their cages without even noticing their presence. The longer their stay at the shelter, the more frightened they become. Who could fall in love with an animal like that?

Being shy and easily intimidated myself, I understand a little of what is going through the minds of these reticent dogs and cats. They want to love and be loved. They want to go to a new home where they will feel safe, where they will let their brilliant sides shine. But they don’t know how to get there. They have been rejected too many times already. It’s scary to put themselves out there again. All they need is someone to realize they are not necessarily stand-offish, just shy. They need someone to pull them out of the dark corner and give them time to regain their confidence.

These cute little introverts may not be right for everyone. They may take more patience. They need a quiet home where they can explore in peace. They might not be affectionate at first and they may not be interested in playing with their new toys. But if given a little time and a little space, I know they will eventually become the best dog or cat you have ever known. It’s the more difficult pets that are the most memorable, after all. Picture the first moment your new companion is brave enough to lay beside you on the floor. Imagine how it will feel the first time your timid little dog chases a ball or licks a child’s hand. As my favourite pet adoption video says, the greatest reward isn’t the moment you adopt a pet, it’s the moment the pet adopts you.

The fearful cats and dogs at the shelter may not be the ones you immediately spot when you walk onto the adoption floor. But I think if you do take one home, the love they will bring to your life will be richer than you could have expected. It’s the love that comes from earning an animal’s trust. When you adopt a less-adoptable pet you change lives: the animal’s and your own.

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25 thoughts on “Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable Pet Week: Let’s Hear It For the Introverts!

  1. Awesome post! I just ran out of time to get a post for less adoptable dog week (plus I’m feeling the need for a puppy and it would have been WAY too dangerous to browse petfinder to just find a specific pooch)! Those shy dogs are awesome! they take some extra time but are so very worth it!

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    • I know exactly what you mean. Petfinder can be right deadly at times. But it’s also very addictive – rarely a week goes by without me logging in!

      I wasn’t sure I was going to have time to post anything either. But I was inspired last night after a conversation and I decided to write something for today’s blog hop. The first time I have posted on a Saturday in months!

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  2. that promo is beautiful 🙂 Barbie had a reputation for being a bit shy and timid, but the first time I met her, she came and sat with me. I knew then that she was meant to be my greyhound, and we have not looked back 🙂

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    • Thank you. It’s the timid ones that pull on my heartstrings the most. You may not be able to tell now, but Shiva was quite fearful when we brought her home. Her tail remained between her legs for quite some time. We’ve spent a lot of time building up her confidence. Our trainer jokes that we did too good of a job. 😛

      Barbie is beautiful. I understand why you couldn’t turn away from her.

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  3. That was a beautiful post, Kristine. It made me think of Shadow, a quiet girl who had her own way of showing affection.

    The world would be very dull if it was only made up of extroverts. Thanks for the beautiful reminder.

    Oh, and you should send a link to that video to Edie Jarolim at Will My Dog Hate Me? She’d love it for her “Pet Adoption Videos that Don’t Make Me Want to Kill Myself” series.

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    • Thanks, Pamela. It was halfway inspired by a pair of cats that remained in my local shelter for over six months. They were both so scared of everything and the longer they remained, the more frightened they became. It was so tragic. They were such beautiful angora cats with lovely long white fur. Just amazing to look at. But because of their shyness, they were passed over. I am happy to report, however, they both were eventually adopted together by a quiet woman who understood their needs. I hope they are now thriving in their new home.

      I wasn’t sure if Edie had posted this one already or not. There is also one that features a cat. Perhaps I will send them along just in case.

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  4. Anyone who is considering a shy pet – the introvert – they need to see how much Nikita has changed the 5 months we have had her. She no longer cowers when you go to pet her – she doesn’t run and hide when someone new comes into the house – she stands her ground and growls until we tell her it is ok they are there. Instead of hiding under her blanket in her basket – she comes and sits beside us – and put her little paw up to let you know she needs a pet. When you come in the door we don’t need to try and find where she is hiding because she runs to the door and lets us know she is happy we are home.

    Everyday she is a little more confident and a little more affectionate. She is no longer the terrified little stranger in our home – she is one of the family. We are glad we took the plunge – because already she is a very important part of our lives.

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    • I am so glad! Thank you for sharing how far she has come. In really a very short time. Nikita was one of the dogs I had in mind when I wrote this. Many people would have passed her over in favour of her puppies, or dogs that were a lot more playful. It’s fantastic you happened to hear about her at just the right time.

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    • Thank you. It’s a scary world out there for me. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I was a cat who had no power or understanding.

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  5. Have you ever volunteered in a shelter before Kristine? Because you described everything so perfectly. I could not have even described all that you conveyed, but reading it I was nodding my head. So many of the shy cats and dogs DO get overlooked. SO many of them DO have a hard time dealing with their new situation. I can’ tell you how many times I have walked a dog and the whole time they are searching the parking lot and the streets for their owner. It is absolutely heartbreaking.

    I have adopted wonderful dogs who likely would have been adopted quickly and shy dogs who would not have done as well in a shelter, and yet all of my dogs have been wonderful dogs. I know Daisy would have been one of those dogs people would have looked over.
    Thank you for writing such a beautiful post about the less adoptable pets. They deserve a chance. They make wonderful pets too!

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  6. Back when we used to go to the shelter to pick out our fosters (we just pick from Petfinder now), we always picked ones who we thought would get passed over. To our surprise, over half of the ones that had “shut down” at the shelter ended up being some of the most outgoing dogs EVER, once they were in a home environment!

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  7. I agree 100%! When we first got Charlie he wanted nothing to do with us, but after a couple of weeks he slowly started to get closer and spend more time with us and everytime he did something new it made my day. 🙂

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  8. What a wonderful post Kristine.

    My dad has had Maggie for almost a year now and she has brought so much to my dad. She’s an old girl and I am sure wouldn’t have found it easy to find a home, so I dread to think what might have happened had my dad not come along.

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  9. There is some great wisdom in this post. Especially loved “The greatest reward is when your pet adopts you”. Maybe you are an introvert, but definitely one with an extraordinary ability to care and show empathy for the world around you.

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  10. My friend adopted Duke because he was the only dog NOT barking when they went into the shelter… and his barking now drives us nuts! So you can’t always judge an animal on first impressions! The one shrinking back into the cage may just need a bit a love to get it going.

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  11. Love the video:) And I have a very soft spot for shy animals as I’m shy too. One thing I’ve really enjoyed about adopting Beryl is allowing and encouraging her personality to develop. She didn’t have much when I got her:) Sometimes I think I’ve created a monster:) It’s very rewarding to watch anything be all that it can.

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  12. Beautiful post Kristine – we adopted a shy kitty that had been in the shelter for months and been overlooked – he was the sweetest little boy, I miss him ;(

    I love your posts, thanks for sharing the sweet video too!!

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  13. Thanks for sticking up for the quiet ones. 🙂 As with many quiet people (ahem), once they get to know you, they open right up.

    So glad the two shelter kitties finally got a new home.

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  14. I think its awesome you did this as a highlight. I know several of my friends that have adopted the introvert pets and its AMAZING to watch them start to feel secure and then blossom with their new personality. This made me take a moment and stop and smile.

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