“Adopt, don’t shop,” beams a very much in love Giaan Rooney, as she stares into the soulful golden eyes of her rescued Kelpie X Daschund, Roy.
The Gold Medal Winning Olympian credits the canine for helping her family happy throughout the pandemic and lockdown.
“We adopted Roy in May 2020, from Waggy Tails Dog Rescue. He was just seven weeks old at the time, so is now almost one year old. The support Roy has provided us over the past 12 months is truly amazing, and I’m so thankful that we had him in our lives during one of the toughest years yet.
“If a day or week ever felt hard during lockdown, Roy would always be able to cheer me up just by a little wag of his tail or by demanding a pat by nuzzling his nose under my hand. Having a pet during a year like 2020 really makes you appreciate the smaller things in life.
“Although he’s small in size, Roy has the heart of a giant! He provided my family with endless cuddles, laughs, distraction and entertainment which played a big role in supporting us physically and emotionally throughout 2020.”
An Exercise Buddy
Giaan also pays credit to Roy for helping to keep the family fit throughout lockdown. “We already had an active lifestyle, but taking Roy out for walks, or to the beach, during lockdown helped us maintain our physical wellbeing. It also allowed us to spend even more quality together as a family.”
Sharing the ‘Adopt, Don’t Shop’ message
Giaan has teamed up with PETStock to encourage people adopt their next pet from a shelter or pound, rather than buying one online, from a backyard breeder or puppy mill.
“What I love most about being a parent to a rescue pet is that they have so much love to give, it’s almost like they know they’ve been given a second chance,” says Giaan.
“I encourage anyone that is considering becoming a pet owner to consider adoption. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences and comes with several benefits, including helping you to stay active, providing you with companionship, opportunities for socialising with other pet owners, and many more.”
Your Perfect Match
It may take a while before you find the perfect pet for your family, especially if you already have pets. You want a harmonious environment, after all.
“It’s important to keep an open mind when searching for your perfect match because you don’t know which animal you’ll have the greatest connection with,” says Giaan, when quizzed on the ease of the ‘adopt, don’t shop’ process. “That was particularly true when we were searching for a rescue pet to join our family. Originally, we were searching for an older dog, however as soon as we met Roy, I just knew he belonged in our family!”
If you’re not sure you want to take on the 10-14 year commitment of having a pet, or if you can only take on a pet for a small amount of time or indeed if you’re new to the whole pet ownership thing, then fostering is a fantastic place to begin. It allows you to experience the responsibilities that come with pet ownership while helping an animal develop social and behaviour skills and overcome any anxiety, which will ultimately make them more adoptable.
When an animal is placed in foster care, it also provides support for rescue volunteers and creates space to house another animal entering rescue, so you are in fact helping to save two lives – the one you’re fostering and the one who is now able to use that space in the kennel.
How To Help If You Can’t Foster Or Adopt
You can support your local shelter through donations at any PETstock store. Throughout March of each year, specially marked products will go towards PETstock Assist and its project, including rescue groups and animals in need.
“You can also volunteer your time at a rescue group by providing an extra set of hands to help feed, clean or socialise with the animals,” explains Giaan. “If you have left over pet food, toys, bedding or other pet supplies, donate them to your local rescue group.”
Giaan has always had rescue pets and says it has always been a source of joy.
“Each rescue pet that I’ve adopted over the years, even as a child, has enhanced my life in some way or another. My three-legged rescue dog Lester, who I sadly lost almost three years ago now, showed me that despite having one leg missing, to never give up on anything. Bringing rescue pets into our family has helped me teach my children the responsibilities that come with pet ownership and show them that every animal is deserving of a safe and loving home.”