By Julia Szabo, Dogster

It's October, which is Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month. If you haven't already experienced the joy of dog adoption, it's a good time to save a canine life and upgrade your own in the process.

I should know: I've been adopting dogs from shelters since 1994, when I brought home my first Pit Bull, a white vision of beauty named Daisy. Since then, I've adopted dozens of dogs in numerous colors, shapes, and sizes. Some of them I rehomed; many wound up staying with me. Shelter dogs have taught me more lessons about life and love than I can count or recount here. This much I can tell you: There's no nicer, more unpretentious teacher than a shelter dog. Daisy was also a brilliant literary coach, motivating me to achieve every young writer's dream: getting an article in The New Yorker.

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Shelter dogs also impart excellent design advice. Thanks to my adopted dogs, I was able to summon the courage to write my first book, Animal House Style: Designing a Home to Share With Your Pets. They also inspired all my other books about pets and design. Shelter dogs are natural-born decorators; they vote with their feet, and they don't charge a fee. Plus, they are wonderful to sleep with, especially when the weather turns cold. Shelter dogs are great in bed. At my place, every night is a four-dog night!

10 reasons to adopt a shelter dog

Photo by Jen.

A visit to an animal shelter will get you started on the road to canine redemption. Need incentive? Here are 10 compelling reasons to adopt a shelter dog. What are you waiting for?

1. It's a form of recycling

As the environmentally conscious recycling movement has proven, it's easy (and fun!) being green, and dog adoption is the noblest form of recycling. You don't need to buy.. just adopt from a local shelter!

2. It helps end homelessness

Every year, millions of healthy, sweet, soulful dogs are killed at animal shelters across this country just for lack of cage space; as with people, bad luck can cause good dogs to become homeless through no fault of their own. By adopting a shelter dog, you're doing your part to help end the nationwide crisis of homelessness.

3. It's cool

With so many charismatic celebrities walking around with adopted dogs by their side -- Lenny Kravitz among them -- it's clear that adoption isn't just the right thing to do, it's the cool thing to do. To your adopted dog, you're the resident rock star!

4. You can flaunt your pride

You know all those people who are so proud of their honor-student kids? Well, adopted dogs are super-smart, the Mensas of muttdom. So skip the bumper sticker — flaunt stray pride with a cool collar or T-shirt. Even your coffee can proclaim pride for pound pups!

10 reasons to adopt a shelter dog

Photo by Patrick Kwan.

5. It eradicates loneliness

Don't you want somebody to love? Somebody who will actually love you back? For anyone who's ever suffered the pangs of unrequited affection -- and who hasn't? -- rest assured that an adopted dog will return those tender feelings tenfold. No more lonely nights!

6. The love is unconditional

If you've had it up to here with criticism from your nearest and dearest, get used to unconditional adoration. Years of psychotherapy can't beat an adopted dog's uncomplaining, adoring presence. "Dinner's late? Again? I adore you!"

7. You'll be embarrassment-proof

Got performance anxiety about trying out a new hobby or activity? With an adopted dog as your nonjudgmental audience or workout partner, there's nothing to fear. Exercise routines? Gourmet cooking? Knitting? No matter! Your efforts will get an A+ even if they deserve a D!

8. It shows your depth

Adopting a dog proves you're a person of great inner depth who values substance (a mystery dog of unknown parentage) over style (a predictable pedigreed purebred).

10 reasons to adopt a shelter dog

Photo by the Humane Society of Greater Rochester.

9. It shows your style

But hey, if you're a style hound, there's no more stylin' statement than a shelter dog -- she coordinates beautifully with any outfit or style of decor! And there are plenty of breed specific rescues to choose from.

10. It shows faith in democracy

Are you a political animal? Then reaffirm your faith in the democratic process with an adopted dog. After all, shelter mutts are the people's dog: E Pluribus Unum, one dog out of many. Uncle Sam wants YOU to adopt today!

Will you be adopting a new dog this month?

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