When I went to the animal shelter intending to adopt, it was to find a cat. My home had been without a cat for a few months, and it was time to fill the void. But there he was. Tully was an adult dog, about 18 months old, patchy-colored, and a little bit underweight. He was not a beautiful dog, but his personality spoke to me. Despite being a former stray, he craved connections with people and wanted attention. Tully came home with me the next day.

He was in great health, fully house-trained, and friendly to my other pets. But his need for connection soon became clearer; he was extremely shy and afraid of anything I held in my hand. I had to learn patience and understand that he needed time to adjust to a new home and a new life. We started slowly and I focused on showing him that he was safe, through brushing, walking and gentle, positive training. We built our bond by practicing basic obedience commands: sit, down, stay. Then we moved on to the social manners any dog needs to learn: don’t jump on people, sit quietly to get petted, come when called. Tully was incredibly smart, and wanted to learn how to be a good dog. He blossomed into a true companion, who wants nothing more in the world than to be by my side. I am more a student than he is and we are still learning together, every day.

I didn’t expect to find the perfect dog for me when I walked into the animal shelter that day. Maybe to another person, Tully wouldn’t have been perfect. But “my” dog was waiting for me in a shelter — I would never buy a pet online, or in a pet store. Tully didn’t have soft white fur or cute bug-eyes. But I found a pet for life.

The author is Director, Pet Care Issues at the Humane Society of the United States

(Looking to adopt a healthy, vaccinated adult dog in Chennai? Call 8939449082. For kitten adoption, call 9176927917)

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TAKE ME HOME Brownie is a healthy, vaccinated, de-wormed, two-year-old male dog who has been neutered. To adopt him, call 9884071169

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