Every dog has their own story, especially the dogs you’ll find at your local animal shelter. Mela is one such dog, and below is her story – from a traumatic early beginning, to the safety of a loving home.

Mela’s story also highlights the importance and power of adopting a shelter dog – and how you can keep yours safe in the early stages of having adopted them. (Especially when they don’t know or trust you 100% yet.)

Mela’s humble beginnings

Black shelter dog on leash

Before I was brought to the animal shelter where I was adopted, I lived with my original owners.

My memories from this time of my life are hazy; I just don’t want to remember the lack of love, misunderstandings, and frequent beatings that characterized this time of my life.

For this reason, it’s hard for me to talk about my upbringing before the shelter. I remember things like sticks and umbrellas being used against me when my owners got angry at me. No matter how hard I tried to be a good girl, it seemed that my behavior, in fact I, was never quite good enough to avoid their constant mistreatment.

Fortunately, at almost two years of age, I was saved from this destructive environment by an animal rescue group. (Psst.. check out the story of one dog rescue center in Ontario, CA.)

I’m so grateful that they helped me to get out of that situation. I was taken to an animal shelter, where I began the next interesting phase of my life as a shelter dog…

Living in the animal shelter

At the animal shelter, I was surprised to learn that sticks and other sharp objects were no longer a threat to me. And the people around me seemed to be taking care of and helping me rather than getting angry and violent.

I remember that it took me some time to understand that throwing a stick could not only be painless, but fun to catch!

And that humans can be friends, not only foe. I also made some new four-legged friends at the shelter, just like me!

A pack of shelter dogs looking outside a cage

Once I settled into life at the shelter I quickly realized that I wouldn’t have to spend my days there forever. The place was like a dog dating service and every day I met a new potential family. 

I started to discover that I was actually a pretty social girl, underneath my initial anxiety. So I was looking for a family or partner who could give me the amount of love, care and devotion I needed to enjoy my newfound life.

Meanwhile my new family was considering all kinds of factors about what kind of dog they should adopt.

What to consider when adopting a shelter dog

You might think any dog might be a good fit for you – but coming from a dog, you’re best off considering your new buddy’s:

  • Size, especially if you live in an apartment or somewhere with a backyard and wide open spaces. Not all dogs do so well living indoors all the time!
  • Age, especially if you’re looking to adopt a puppy, an adult dog, or a senior dog. All of us come with different needs, health issues, and backgrounds.
  • Breed, since some dog breeds may be more at risk for different health issues or specific behaviors because of how they were historically raised.
  • Gender, which of course plays a role in getting us spayed and/or neutered.
  • Temperament and activity level, both of which we should ideally have in common.
  • Fur, especially if we shed a lot – or not a lot. (Which will come in handy if you have allergies.)
A girl hugging a shelter dog

But most importantly…

If you’re thinking of adopting a shelter dog, it’s a good idea to ask the shelter owners about the dog’s background and history – so you know what to expect.

Many of us, like me, have experienced violence, abuse, trauma – and it shows up in behaviors like:

All of which can lead to new dog parents getting disappointed and…well, returning us to the shelters.

When all we need is a bit of patience, love, understanding to help us overcome our fears – and learn to trust that you won’t abandon us.

For the shelter, it was very important to find the perfect match between dog and owner, and all these factors and more were considered in the match-making process. So I hoped I’d have what it takes to find my forever family!

Read more: How To Adopt A Dog – Just In Time For Summer

Getting to know each other

It was fun being around other dogs, but my own personal character came out most when I had the chance to be alone with a potential adopter. So I began to enjoy the times when humans would come to visit me and take me out on walks to get to know each other better.

And I started to realize that this was an important step in finding my forever family. Each and every time they came, I felt more and more comfortable around them.

Mela the shelter dog with her new family

Soon I had one family that was my favorite and I was theirs too! I looked forward to every time I had the chance to get out of the shelter with them. I was ready to go to my (new) home!

Adoption at last

Finally, I was adopted! This was a big change for me, and it was initially harder than I expected.

I was quite sensitive and a bit insecure; everything was new to me. But I still wanted to be open to my new family.

They were very friendly and showed me everything right away. Where I could sleep and rest, where to get my daily meals and they even took me for a walk around the block, to make me feel more secure in the new area.

What really helped me at this time were some kindly-enforced rules and discipline, which gave me a sense of stability and security. At last, the love and care from my new family showed me an new way of living this dog life.

mela from an animal shelter

I was allowed to be close to my family as much and as often as I wanted. Because of this, I gained more and more trust in them and our relationship grew stronger and better every day.

They often talked with me to make it easier for me to understand their mood. And that made me feel really good and safe around them. So before too long, I was very relaxed in my new home.

It also helped that they provided me with all the basic equipment a new dog needs in their new home.

What your new adoptee needs best

  • Bed with a soft blanket
  • Different toys
  • Well-fitting dog collar
  • One short and one long lead (leash)
  • Dog brush or comb
  • Quality dog food appropriate to my age and breed
  • Two bowls for food and water
  • Dog barrier for the car
  • GPS dog tracker

Why a GPS tracker?

Well, take it from Alex Voenken, founder of Setter Rescue Netherlands:

Founder of Setter Rescue Netherlands, Alex Voenken and a rescue dog

“(When you’ve just adopted a dog)…they might still be prone to anxiety – be it from their past experiences or the stress of a new environment. All of which make them more likely to suddenly run away, despite all the safety measures we take.

Ultimately, even a few seconds of negligence can be enough to make a dog run away.

And it’s exactly for these moments that the Tractive tracker is the perfect solution to find your dog again as quickly as possible. Especially since the dog does not yet know where their home is during the first period – neither do they know nor trust you as much.

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A happy ending

My new parents loved me so much, they bought me a GPS tracker for dogs. At first, I didn’t know what to expect, but they simply attached it to my collar and I soon forgot it was even there.

Mela's story - a shelter dog

With the tracker and matching app, they were able to keep track of me at all times. Even when I was trying to run off by myself, I was always relieved to see my owners again.

The best part about having a GPS tracker is that my parents can let me explore off-lead sometimes, in areas where that is allowed. They let me roam and unleash all my energy (something my previous owners never would have let me do), and thanks to the tracker, they will always be able to find out where I am and come to me if needed. What a relief!

After three wonderful years with my new family, I’m so thankful for everything that has happened in my life to lead me to this point. Never before have I experienced so much freedom, love, and security.

I hope my story has inspired you to consider adopting a shelter dog! It will mean the world to your furry friend, like it did to me.

Yours truly, Mela

Did you like this story? Read more customer stories here or tell us about your own dog’s story with the Tractive GPS!

packaging of the Tractive GPS DOG tracker

Always know where your dog is

Follow every step in real-time with unlimited range. Get alerts if they wander too far. Keep them happy & healthy with Wellness Monitoring. And let others – like walkers or sitters – keep an eye on your dog too.

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