One online story about actor Josh Duhamel recently began with this headline: "Adopting was the smartest thing I've done."
"I'm not sure my wife would agree with that!" Duhamel says with a laugh. The actor's wife is singer Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas. "For the purposes of this conversation, sure, pet adoption is the smartest thing," he says.
Duhamel's timing is no accident. Phoenix-based PetSmart Charities has teamed up with the actor to launch the "High-Five for Pet Adoption" campaign celebrating the 5 million pets' lives that have been saved through PetSmart Charities Adoption Centers.
"It's hard to imagine that many pets saved," says the actor.
For Duhamel, who starred in the Transformer movies and "Life as We Know It" with fellow dog lover Katherine Heigl, and appeared on TV in "Las Vegas" and "All My Children," life hasn't quite been the since the loss of his dog Meatloaf.
"He has this calm amazing soul; he is such a cool guy." Interestingly, Duhamel still sometimes speaks about Meatloaf in the present tense, though the pooch passed away in April. Any longtime pet owner can empathize his loss, Duhamel's first experience with the death of a pet. As a kid, though he wanted a dog, Duhamel never had one. Now 39, he was about30 when he and Fergie purchased their first pet, a Dachshund named Zoe.
"She's a great little dog," says Duhamel. "I bet she would have ended up a shelter if someone didn't buy her soon; most puppy mill dogs do (land in shelters)." A few months later, the couple adopted a second Dachshund, Meatloaf. Duhamel concedes that Dachshunds are like potato chips; it's hard to have only one.
Actually, Meatloaf was an adult when adopted, and was originally named Dylan (or perhaps spelled Dillon), but apparently Duhamel preferred the name of a different songwriter.
"Meatloaf is one of the greatest lyricists ever. Really, though, (our dog is) a stocky little guy -- and he reminded us of a little meatloaf."
Changing tenses, Duhamel notes, "Meatloaf was the greatest little companion ever. He developed a brain issue; his cerebellum was degenerating. He began to fall over. Luckily, he wasn't very far from the floor so he'd roll over like a Tootsie Roll. We had all these tests done, but there was nothing that could be done.
"Meatloaf didn't feel sorry for himself; he just kept on going and his little tail kept wagging," Duhamel recalls. "For about the last year, we'd pretty much have to carry him everywhere, but he was still a very happy boy. That's dogs. We can learn from them. They don't sweat the small stuff; they just keep on going."
Meatloaf died in his sleep at the age of about 12. The loss deeply effected Duhamel. That's why he wanted to help PetSmart Charities get the word out on adoption and help find homes for other dogs as a way to memorialize his buddy.
"Zoe, who we had as a puppy, is one spoiled, happy little dog. But Meatloaf was so appreciative of being adopted. I think, at some level, he understood he had a home forever. It's amazing to me how anyone could have given him up. It pains me to think that he might have been euthanized. And that's what makes me want to encourage people to consider adopting a dog or cat. It is so rewarding."
Learn more about pet adoption at www.petsmartcharities.org. or text PETS to 80888 (star) to donate. Share your adoption stories at http://www.petsmartcharities.org/how-to-help/share-your-pet-adoption-story.html.
Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is www.stevedalepetworld.com; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.(c) 2012 DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.