To most of us, our pets enrich our lives. I certainly can't imagine going through life without my wonderful cats and collies. October is adopt a shelter dog month. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sponsors this event every October.

There are millions of dogs in our shelters across the country. Some of the overcrowding could be alleviated by simply spaying and neutering pets rather than allowing them to have puppies.

One of my best friends raised dachshunds, and it was a lot of exhausting work for both herself and her husband. The puppies were adorable, but extremely needy and time consuming. Most of us don't need, or want, the responsibility of breeding dogs and then finding safe, forever homes for them.

As an adult, I have never had a really young puppy. Yes, they are adorable, but older dogs that need a home are usually already house trained and have manners. Abigail, our youngest collie, was still a puppy when we got her at 10 months old. Almost full grown, she still had those puppy tendencies. I hadn't realized how spoiled I'd been with getting adult collies previously.

There is nothing wrong with a shelter or rescue dog. They are wonderful and so grateful for a chance at life.

I can't understand the nonsense some people spout: "We're moving, so we have to get rid of the dog or cat." We have moved all over the country with our pets. I wouldn't have left any of my beloved babies behind or taken them to a shelter.

Pets are a lifelong responsibility. Please don't adopt a dog if you aren't willing to commit to care for their needs, including veterinarian visits for vaccinations or when they are sick; paying for needed medicines; and tending to them when they are elderly. Pets are not inexpensive, but they add so much love and joy to our lives that they are worth the investment.

If you are willing to make the commitment, there are many shelter dogs available for adoption.

Several rescues in town have adoption fairs on the weekends at places like Tractor Supply (850-682-0945) and Pet Sense (860-398-6221). Of course, PAWS (Panhandle Animal Welfare Society, 850-243-1525) in Fort Walton Beach has many dogs that need to be adopted.

Save the life of a shelter dog, take the time to get to know them, bring them home and make one or two a part of your family. You will be happy you did and you will have saved a life.

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.