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When we walked into the shelter, a hundred hopeful faces turned our way. Each dog eager to please, to be loved, to find a home. Each kennel holding an adoptable dog. We rounded the corner and found the one who’s online photo had brought us there in the first place — Trigger, the German Shorthair Pointer mix who’s mug shots had made us burst out laughing and jump in the car within minutes to make the hour drive to Salt Lake City.

The Humane Society of Utah does these amazing posts of each dog in their shelter, glamour shots by a professional photographer who somehow manages to capture the character of each of these dogs so perfectly (I believe treats were involved). Trigger’s post went like this: “Do you dream of driving up the canyon in your Grand Wagoneer …Windows down, breathing in the crisp autumn air? Wearing a red and black gingham flannel shirt prepared for the chilly night around a campfire, enjoying hot chocolate and s’mores? Trigger shares the same dreams and aspirations too! He’d love to hang his head out that Wagoneer letting his ears flap in the breeze and would gladly cuddle up right next to you at night to keep you warm. Trigger is a 2 year old German Shorthaired Pointer who enjoys trips to the dog park, long walks into the sunset and gets along great with dogs and kids. He is also house trained, loves to play fetch and even knows a few basic commands! Sound like a dream come true? Probably is and you should come meet Trigger today at The Humane Society of Utah!”

I immediately knew this was the dog for us. We don’t have a Grand Wagoneer, but we do have a Jeep Wrangler and a love for adventure. We knew we wanted a dog similar to a German Shorthair Pointer, known for being amazing family dogs — loyal, affectionate, energetic. Here was one who needed a new home and had the cutest floppy ears I’d ever seen.

You know how some people meet a dog for the first time and they are instantly sure it’s a match? That’s not how this went.

Trigger was so excited, he immediately peed in the kennel when we opened the door, simultaneously jumping on and licking each of us in turn (all 75 pounds of him)! We managed to hook a leash to his collar and lead him into the hallway, our destination the nearby fenced in park where we could get acquainted. Desperate for fresh air and eager for playtime, Trigger pulled us onward with all his strength, succeeding in nearly choking himself and pulling Mitch’s feet out from under him as we neared the enclosure. Once there, we unhooked his leash and grabbed a tennis ball.

If we thought he was acting crazy before the ball came out, now he was certifiable. Jumping on us, sprinting in circles with “the zoomies,” barking with wild abandon. He couldn’t contain his excitement! We looked at each other — me with mud stains on my pants from where Trigger had knocked me down, him with red marks on his arm from accidental scratches — and we knew. He was coming home with us.

We were definitely nervous as we signed the paperwork and led that dog to his new home. What if he didn’t settle down? What if he didn’t fit in? But we needn’t have worried. We changed his name from Trigger to Digory (named after one of my favorite books) and have never looked back. With a little exercise, a little training, and a whole lot of love, Digory settled right into our little family. He’s the sweetest dog around, ready to wag his tail at everyone and always up for a cuddle. A few years later, we had the chance to adopt a second dog, a 2-year-old Vizsla named Rue.

If you are looking for a new dog, please consider adoption over buying a dog from a breeder. You’ll save a life. According to the Humane Society, each year 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the U.S. because there are too many pets in shelters and not enough people willing to adopt them. Please know that if you buy a dog from a pet store, online seller, or flea market, that dog almost certainly comes from a puppy mill. There’s a long list of reasons why puppy mills are horrible, not the least of which being that animals are housed in poor conditions and lack socialization, often leading to behavioral and health problems.

Instead, look to your local shelter. When we asked why Trigger was in the shelter, the volunteers said he’d been dropped off by his family when they couldn’t take care of him — at no fault of his. Luckily for us, we got a loving, house-trained dog fully up to date on his vaccinations and micro-chipped! Win-win.

Digory on adventures with his dad, Mitch.