Jonathan Van Ness reveals the harsh realities of dog adoption

Adopting pets and raising animals has proven to be a saving grace for many isolated Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges once a new furry family member crosses the threshold.

‘Queer Eye’ star Jonathan Van Ness was among those who decided to expand his family; over the summer he took in a rescue dog named Pablo from Austin Pets Alive! Shelter in Austin, Texas.

“When I adopted a dog, I just didn’t know what to expect,” the 33-year-old reality star told TODAY on Zoom from New York. “I went to a shelter that had COVID protocols that really made me feel good, and then I just fell (crazy) in love with Pablo, but I just didn’t know much about what was going on in the behavior of Pablo. a dog or being a parent of a dog.

Van Ness shot to fame with his star turn on Netflix’s 2018 reboot of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” The beauty guru has quickly become a fan favorite for her lovable personality as well as her upbeat social media presence that often includes her cats Harry Larry, Matilda, Liza and Genevieve – so he’s already had experience of the adoption of pets. (Van Ness identifies as non-binary gender but her preferred pronouns are he/him/her.)

Genevieve and Matilda joined the family last year as kittens after her cat Bug the Second tragically fell from a window and died. “Of all the things I’ve been through, if you read my book, losing Bug the Second was like…I mean, I’m holding my arm now just talking,” Van Ness said. “It was so sad that I impulsively adopted two kittens literally on the same day because I was so overwhelmed with grief. I never thought this could happen. I never thought about it would like to arrive.”

Although some of his cats have had health issues in the past, Van Ness says he wasn’t prepared for Pablo. “A lot of dogs are this romanticized version of what you think adoption is,” he said. “Like no problems. I think that’s probably what happens most of the time and for the first two weeks that was our experience. But then Pablo… with four cats I just started seeing some things start happening.”

Van Ness said Pablo quickly became extremely possessive of him as well as the sofa, the treats and the toys, even though the toys first belonged to his cats. Known as resource guarding, this occurs when dogs exhibit behaviors such as growling, lunging, or biting at food or toys, according to the American Kennel Group. It is also known as “possessive aggression” and can occur in dogs of all breeds.

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