Chief greeted me warmly when I entered the enclosure, his light blue eyes glinting in the morning sun. I ran my hands through his dense fur, wondering how such a beautiful creature ended up at Animal Services. Chief is a red-and-white Siberian husky, approximately 7 years old. He came to the shelter in July under unknown circumstances.
The day I met him, he was getting his picture taken by photographer Bonnie Baker, who shoots all the new pups who find themselves up for adoption at Animal Services. Chief could be a doggie model; he’s striking in both color and form. And although he’s not walking the ring for Best in Show, he is a lovely example of the diverse mix of dogs the Santa Barbara shelter has to offer. “People think we only have pit bull mixes and Chihuahua mixes, but we actually have lots of breeds to choose from,” said Lee Heller, a longtime volunteer with the organization.
While it’s true there are a disproportionate number of pits and Chihuahuas for adoption, during my visit, I also met a sweet shepherd mix named Shasta, a cute-as-a-button cocker-poodle mix named Echo, a couple of Benji look-a-likes, some beagles, a boxer, a bloodhound, and Chief.
To alert the public to its myriad selections, Animal Services has dubbed October its Fall Collection month (it also happens to be national dog adoption month).
If you don’t see the “style” you’re looking for, think about making a list of the characteristics you’d like your furry companion to possess. Shopping for the dog rather than the breed often results in the perfect match. I know this to be true from experience; the first dog I had (as an adult) was a Chihuahua. I grew up with big dogs and never thought I’d end up with a purse-sized ankle-biter. But when I met Simon, then just an 8-week-old, scrawny thing, he was mellow and cuddly (i.e., just what I wanted). Needless to say, I took Simon home and loved him more than I thought it possible to love a dog.
“The best way to find the right dog match is to pick a dog for its temperament, not its appearance or its breed,” agreed Heller. “It’s all about personality.” With around 90 dogs currently in the Santa Barbara shelter (more than 150 if you include Lompoc and Santa Maria), there is no doubt the right four-legged friend is nearby and waiting to meet you.
For this month’s Fall Collection, Animal Services is offering 20 percent off adoption fees, which includes vaccines, spay/neuter, a bag of dog food, and a basket of toys and treats for your new charge. For more info, call 681-5285 or stop by the shelter at 5473 Overpass Road in Goleta.