My daughter, Emily, lives in Brooklyn, New York. She’s 25 and finding her way in the business world. A year ago she told me she had adopted a Puerto Rican street dog, which she named Astor. I was not happy, thinking the dog would restrict her freedom in her career search. But now, a year later, I believe adopting Astor was a wonderful thing for both the dog and my daughter.
The other day, Emily sent me a new photo of Astor — one of a few dozen photos she’s created using Photoshop and posted on Social Media to turn her furry buddy into a canine celebrity. I told her I would publish her latest photo (see below) if she would write up something about the dog and how she came to adopt it. If you want to see more photos of Astor and/or follow her on Instagram, click here. Now, here is what Emily wrote:
By Emily Woodbury
It’s Astor’s “adoptaversary,” meaning one year ago today the then-8-month-old ball of trouble landed in my arms.
I got her through a shelter in New York City that rescues street dogs from Puerto Rico and flies them to the United States for adoption. I picked her up at the airport and brought her home like I would a bag of groceries. Her first night, in the low glow of Christmas tree lights, she ate a cactus.
Astor is part German Shepard and part everything else black and tan, part garbage can and part vacuum cleaner, part demon and part angel, and part sock-destroyer. She’s been the biggest test of what I’ve been able to handle both physically and mentally. Adopting a street dog isn’t like adopting a dog in a pet store or abandoned on the streets or found lost in a park. A street dog is a blank slate: “What’s a leash?” “YOU’RE GIVING ME FOOD….WILLINGLY?” “I shouldn’t pee in the house?” “Habla Espanol?”
Now, one year later, Astor walks herself on a leash, sleeps in an oversized plush dog bed (with a blanket, too), eats two meals a day (plus snacks and treats) and never forgets to take her daily dose of Emily’s sock-flavored vitamin. She has playdates with neighborhood dog friends, and human friends bring her new toys when she’s decapitated her last squeaking duck.
A dog does something to a human — it takes all your “hard” and makes you soft. Dogs teach you patience and kindness. They keep you active. They get you outdoors and moving the blood that needs to be moved. Study after study has shown that owning a dog reduces risk of illness, dropping heart-attack rates and depression levels.
If you are thinking about getting a dog, please, I urge you to not buy your new friend from a pet store or breeder. There are so many dogs like Astor, both on the streets and in shelters, that want (and need) a home like yours. Twice a day when Astor gets her bowl of food and then, with a full belly, comes to sit on my lap, I feel like I’ve done something right in the world.
Before I met Astor, she was sleeping under pickup trucks. She was dusty and her ribs showed. She begged outside restaurants for food scraps, wagging her tail in appreciation as she inhaled whatever was offered.
Every dog deserves a good home, but please adopt the shelter mutts and the scruffy street dogs first.
Follow Astor on Instagram at instagram.com/astorthedisaster . If you are interested in adopting a Puerto Rican street dog or making a donation to the non-profit adoption organization, visit the Sato Project.