We are all dog lovers, but it takes a certain kind of breed (pun intended) to adopt a rescue dog.
If you are considering getting a dog (be it your first or your tenth) we encourage you to give serious thought to giving a home to an orphaned pooch, banished to shelters.
- By adopting a rescue dog, you are giving it new life. There is nothing more fulfilling and generous on your part than to adopt.
- By refusing to buy a dog from a breeder (and specifically a puppy mill), you are discouraging the growth of ‘dog factories’ – places where dogs of different breeds are imprisoned and forced to breed for commercial purposes. This barbaric practice has to stop, and adopting is a powerful way to do so.
- Rescuing a dog is significantly cheaper than paying for a puppy from a breeder, but more importantly, your money goes to a great cause – saving yet more dogs (as opposed to lining the pockets of the breeder).
Please don’t get us wrong – we love all dogs. Purebred, mutts, breeder born or rescue. And there are a lot of professional, reputable breeders, that do a superb job, treat their dogs wonderfully, and are great people. But we do encourage adoption for all the personal and societal benefits it brings with it. At least visit the shelter the next time you are searching. You will be surprised at the number of purebred, young dogs that are abandoned and available at a rescue. By the way, there are also dedicated rescues in our area for purebred dogs of various kinds. A quick Google search for ‘XYZ’ breed rescue will show you what is available.
I will also add that there are various levels of shelters too. A great one to go visit for example is Emerald City Pet Rescue in Seattle. They do a really good job caring for the dogs that end up there. Another is the Seattle Humane Society where we ourselves got some of our dogs in the past.
Please note, that will all the great benefits of rescuing a dog from a shelter, there are also some risks and things you should know and consider before making the move. None are insurmountable in our opinion, but you should know about them. Here are some things to consider when you adopt a dog:
- You will not know its temperament…not for sure anyway. While in their kennel at the shelter, dogs may behave differently than normal. Wouldn’t you if locked up in a cage. You will only figure out their true self once they are with you for some time.
- You may not be aware of its history. While many shelters try to find out the dog’ past, it is not always possible, nor are the stories they are given always true. A dog’s history could have shaped its current behavior.
Bottom line, before adopting, spend time with the potential dog in the various facilities the shelter offers to get to know the dog. Bring a ball and play with the dog. See if you develop an attachment. If you have kids or another dog at home, bring them with you. This is a family deal and everyone should be involved. Finally, depending on the dog, their history, and how long they have been at the shelter, it may take them some time to adjust to their new home. They may be suspicious that this is not real or permanent. They may see, hear, or smell things that remind them of a less than fun past, and more. Be patient. It will be worth it.
On a personal note, all of our dogs have been rescues. Our two latest were Bruno and Sarge. When we first saw Bruno, a 9 year old English Mastiff, he was 160 lbs (vs his normal healthy weight of 220lbs). He had chain burns around his neck and torso. His incisors were broken from trying to bite off the chains he was kept in. He wagged his tail for our kids and for Einat, but when Roei (the father of the household) tried to come near, Bruno wouldn’t have it. Tail went straight between the legs and teeth we shown. Clearly this dog suffered abuse from a male figure and Bruno remembered it all too well. It took a full month of slowly making progress and building trust before Bruno would lay next to Roei and completely give himself up to him. And boy was it worth it, for both of them.
When Bruno passed away, it was Sarge, a 6 year old German Shepherd that caught the eyes of the Ganzarski family. He was caught as a street dog in the streets of Los Angeles and put into a kill shelter there before being brought up here to the Seattle area by a local rescue. He was scrawny, malnourished, and scared. When we gave him food, he would take it out to the yard and bury it. He did that for a few weeks before he started to realize that he would get food every day and didn’t have to fight for it. Like a street dog, the first three months had him constantly pacing and walking around anxiously, like something was about to happen. At some point near the end of those three months, he realized that no one was after him and that he didn’t have to fear laying down quietly. When that happened, the real Sarge came out. The most lovable, loyal, playful, and protective gentle giant you could imagine.
Bottom line – in our own opinion, there is nothing like rescuing a dog. When adopting from a rescue, especially an older dog or one with a less than great history, be patient. Don’t give up on the soul inside your dog. It will all be more than worth it for you and your dog.