October is national “Adopt an Adult Dog Month” and animal lovers are encouraged to visit a local shelter to find their next family member and make their family complete.

If you think a four-legged friend isn’t in your future, you have all month to reconsider.

In the book, “Woof: A Gay Man’s Guide to Dogs,” the author makes no bones about it.

“Once you find your life partner, the world becomes a different place, a better place. When that perfect mate has a soft beard, a wet nose, and four legs, it’s even better,” Andrew De Prisco writes.

Does every LGBT person need a dog? Of course not! Dogs are not only man’s best friend but they are wonderful companions. The effort during October is to find loving homes for adult dogs, the ones often overlooked. We all know puppies are adorable, but they require a lot of work. If you work long hours or travel frequently for business, you are likely not a good match for a puppy. If you have a baby or young children, puppies can be a bit much too. There are several benefits when you adopt an adult dog.

Ed Sparan knows first-hand why taking in an older dog is a great idea. In 2002, he suffered from partial blindness as the result of an illness. He got an Irish setter he named D.B. (Daddy’s Boy). He also received his license as a dog trainer. For ten years, D.B. was his service dog, training partner and companion. In 2012, when DB passed away, Sparan was devastated. Not yet ready to adopt again, he became a foster parent with Grateful Paws in Fort Lauderdale.

Grateful Paws is a not-for-profit animal rescue organization. It is comprised entirely of volunteers. Grateful Paws does not have a shelter, it relies exclusively on the homes of its volunteers and foster parents. It was through Grateful Paws that Sparan met Abigail.

In 2013, this black lab mix was about ten years old. Someone dumped her in the Everglades. When she was rescued, her eyes were a mess; she was totally emaciated and could not walk. She was filthy and had been eating dirt. Initially, Sparan acted as Abigail’s foster parent. But soon the two were inseparable.

Fast forward to today and Abigail is fine. She is running, walking and eating well. Her coat is shiny and she’s gained a couple of pounds. Her recovery is due to the love and care she received from Sparan.

“For gay men, dogs are not animals they are children we love and take care of.  Abby watches over me and protects me as I have protected her,” he told SFGN. “When you are all alone and no one else in the world loves you or understands you, your dog does and he needs you and then you realize you need them.”

Sparan is the operations manager at the World AIDS Museum and Educational Center. It’s a full-time job, but he still finds plenty of time to spend with Abigail and Finn, his other adopted dog, a Miniature Pinscher. Finn was blind as a puppy. Sparan, who had regained his sight, felt an instant connection. “He was mine from the very moment he was put in my arms like a real dad in the hospital with his newborn baby boy,” he said.

Sparan sees some parallels between people in the LGBT communities and animals that are difficult to adopt. “Being in the LBGT community we understand discrimination and stigma that others may not have experienced or understand,” he said.  Many times people we choose as our family members treat us better or differently than our biological family members.”

MaryLou McFarland understands that way of thinking. Like Sparan, she also volunteers with animals. McFarland gives her time to The Cavalier Alliance for Rescue, Research & Education. She too, only adopts older dogs. 

“Most folks want a cute little puppy; meanwhile, shelters and rescues are full of older dogs. Older dogs are potty trained, they are, in most cases, calm; and they are just easy. You can enjoy them for their unique personality and love. These older dogs were once those cute little puppies that grew up!” she told SFGN. “Also, many of these older dogs came from loving homes and their humans died. They deserve to live out their days loved, cared for, and respected.”

If you think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, think again. You can find out more about adopting older dogs by contacting Grateful Paws at GratefulPaws.org. You can also adopt an older dog at the Humane Society of Broward County. Visit their site here: HumaneBroward.com.