As you can read in our tagline – “Rescued is our favorite breed”. It really is.
In fact, we can brag about the fact that almost all of our dogs have been rescue dogs. Some have been purebred rescues, other have been mixed breeds, and others have been mutts. Some came from the shelter, and some were rescued from friends and relatives (lots of interesting stories there 🙂 ).
One thing is sure. They have all been great dogs. Every one of them.
In this post I’d like to dispel a few myths regarding rescue dogs, and hopefully convince you to think about a rescue dog the next time you want to buy a dog.
Myths and Misconceptions
Many potential dog owners view rescuing a dog the same way they view buying a used car – a belief that they will simply be buying into “somebody else’s problems.” It’s an unfortunate image of rescue dogs as problem dogs that didn’t – and wouldn’t – make good pets.
Generally, though, this belief is simply not the case. Most dogs who wind up in a rescue center were not put there because they were “bad” or had behavioral issues.
On the contrary. Much of the time they were simply purchased by people who had no idea about the time, effort, and cost involved with keeping a dog. Their dogs then end up at a humane shelter, or dumped on the side of some back road, or, if the dog is lucky, at a rescue center.
Why Dogs Wind Up in Rescue Centers
- The owners underestimated the time they had available for a dog.
- They discovered they couldn’t afford routine vet visits or how much treating an illness or injury can cost.
- The owner unfortunately dies or goes into a nursing/retirement home.
- A divorce occurs and neither party is willing to keep the dog. (You’d be surprised at how often this happens)
- A baby comes along and the parents no longer have time for the dog. Or, the dog is no longer a fit for their new “lifestyle.”
- The owner has to move to an apartment and can’t keep the dog there. That’s how Shadow, our old Lab, wound up with us (RIP).
Dogs who come from rescue centers often turn out to be the most affectionate dogs we see; it’s as if they understand their miserable pasts are behind them.
This is not to say that they all come out housebroken and are perfectly mannered and socialized. Neglected and/or abandoned dogs need training and oh-so-gentle discipline to become good canine companions.
But, the same is true when people buy a puppy! In general, a rescue dog requires much less training than a pup.
Another common myth is that rescues are simply inferior to dogs bought from a pet store or a breeder. Not so. In fact, many rescue dogs do originate from such legitimate sources. You just don’t know what their history might be.
As such, rescue dogs are just a cross-section of the dog population, and are no more or less likely to have genetic or behavioral issues than any other dog.
Reasons to Select a Rescue Dog
Here are some thoughts to consider when deciding between buying a puppy or a rescue dog when you are ready to add a dog to your family.
What you see is what you get
When you buy a puppy, you’re never sure what type of adult dog you’re going to get. You may think that puppy is so cute and playful now, but what will he or she be like at two years old? Will you be getting a dog who wants to play all the time (and I mean ALL the time!) or a couch potato?
With a rescue a dog, you know – more or less – a dog’s personality and if it fits with you and your personality and lifestyle. And, hopefully you’ll know about any problems the previous owner had that you’ll have to address.
Training should be easy (or at least easier)
The additional training a rescue dog needs should be a snap when compared to training a new puppy.
Compare it to educating a 1 year old child vs. 8 year old child. Dogs who have been around the block just “get it” far more quickly than puppies. Especially housebreaking (sweet!)
Fewer (and cheaper?) vet fees
Most rescue dogs have already had their required examinations, were spayed and/or neutered, have been cleared for heartworm, and are current on any shots.
If you buy a puppy, you end up paying pay for the pup PLUS puppy shots, spaying or neutering, and any other essential medical expenses.
The owner-dog bond is strong
Some dogs have been neglected, abused, and/or otherwise mistreated before getting rescued. Those dogs, when adopted by a caring individual, tend to wind up being very loyal and affectionate to their new parent – especially once they get to know you.
Keep in mind that dogs are pack animals who will thrive in the right “pack”. If the dog didn’t feel safe and secure previously, and does now, it is likely to act accordingly. It may take a little time and patience on your part, but the dogs really do want to please their new owners.
Many rescues – even very large ones – often try to be lap dogs, and will inevitably follow you from room to room, just to be near you.
Your children learn good values
Since live in a very materialistic society – where TV teaches kids that just about anything can be bought – kids then to develop an attitude of entitlement. They start to believe that anything worth having comes with a price tag. Even love.
Adopting a rescue dog is a great opportunity to teach your kids valuable lessons about compassion, caring, and the value of second chances.
Reasons to NOT Select a Rescue Dog
I would be remiss by not stating the other side of the story. So, just to be fair… 🙂
You just can’t get past the idea of a “used” dog
I understand this. Some people have a personality trait that keeps them from wanting to buy anything that’s not “new”. I have relatives like this, and I really don’t see it as a flaw. Just different.
If you are of this personality type, I suggest you avoid the rescue centers. Find a good breeder instead.
You are a “beginner” dog owner
If you have never owned a dog before, you might find a rescue dog to be a bit too advanced for you. Rescues do require empathy, patience, a pretty good understanding of dog psychology and sociology.
You’ll still have to learn the basics of dog care, but maybe you and your new puppy can learn it together “hand-in-paw” 🙂 .
If cost is not an issue for you, you could always check local online services for someone who wants to sell a dog or sell a puppy. You might be able to find a “puppy in training” to help ease you into the wonderful world of dog parenting.
The ASPCA provides a search engine to help you find centers in your area or by location.
www.dogcloud.io is a wonderful resource where you can adopt a dog or puppy online. Highly recommended.
- Working toward a no-kill nation > Too many unwanted pets are euthanized each year; spay and neuter is critical.(newsreview.com)
- City set to take on animal issues(cnjonline.com)
- City offers free spay and neuter program to some(koat.com)
Adopting a rescue dog is a thoroughly rewarding experience. And a huge number of people can testify to this: approximately 1.6 million dogs are adopted from US animal shelters