"Why on earth
would anyone want to adopt a rescue dog?" "After all, aren't
they like used cars?" "Who wants someone else's problems?"
"If the dog is so wonderful, why would anyone give him away?"
"If he was a stray, why didn't someone try to find him?"
"I'd rather buy a puppy so I know what I'm getting and besides, they
are so cute!"
Rescue groups often
hear a variation of this conversation. Many prospective dog owners are
just not convinced that owing an older (i.e. 6 month+)
"pre-owned" dog is better than buying a puppy. But there are a
number of reasons why adopting a pet from a rescue that carefully screens
and evaluates its dogs can provide an even better alternative. Here are
"TOP TEN REASONS YOU
SHOULD CONSIDER A RESCUE"
a Word - Housebroken. With most family members gone during the
work week for 8 hours or more, house training a puppy and its small
bladder can take a whole. Puppies need a consistent schedule with frequent
opportunities to eliminate where you want them to go. They can't wait for
the boss to finish his meeting or the kids to come home from after school
activities. An older dog can "hold it" much more reliably for
longer time periods, and usually the Rescue has him housebroken before he
Underwear. With a chewy puppy, you can count on at least 10
mismatches pairs of socks and a variety of unmentionables rendered to the
"rag bag" before he cuts every tooth. And don't even think about
shoes! Also, you can expect holds in your carpet (along with urine
stains), pages missing from books, stuffing exposed from couches, and at
least one dead remote control. No matter how well you watch them it
happensthis is a puppy's job! An older dog can usually have the run of the
house without destroying it!
Good Night's Sleep. Forget the alarm clocks and hot water
bottles, a puppy can be very demanding at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. He
misses his litter mates and that stuffed animal will not make a puppy pile
with him. If you have children, you've been there and done that. How about
a little peace and quiet? How about an older rescue dog?
the Newspaper. With a puppy running amok in your house, do you
think you will be able to relax when you get home from work? Do you thin
your kids will really feed him, clean up the messes, take him for a walk
in the pouring rain every hour to get him housetrained? With an adult dog,
it will only be the kids running amok, because your dog will be sitting
calmly next to you, while your workday stress flows away and your blood
pressure lowers as you pet him.
Vet Trips. Those puppies need their series of puppy shots and
fecals, then their rabies shot, then a trip to be altered, maybe an
emergency trip or two if they've chewed something dangerous. Those puppy
visits can add up (on top of what you paid for the dog!). Your donation to
the rescue when adopting an older dog should get you a dog with all shots
current, already altered, heartworm negative and on preventative at the
You See Is What You Get. How bit will that puppy be? What kind
of temperament will be have? Will he be easily trained? Will his
personality be what you are hoping for? How active will he be? When
adopting an older dog from rescue,. All of those questions re easily
answered. You can pick large or small; active or couch potato; goofy or
brilliant; sweet or sassy. The rescue and its foster homes can guide you
to pick the right match. (Rescues are full of puppies who became the wrong
match as they got older!).
Children (and Adults). When the puppy isn't teething on your
possessions, he will be teething on your children and yourself. Rescues
routinely get calls from panicked parents who are sure their dog is biting
the children. Since biting implies hostile intent and would be a
consideration whether to accept a "give-up", Rescue Groups ask
questions and usually find out the dog is being nippy. Parents are often
too emotional to see the difference, but a growing puppy is going to put
everything from food to clothes to hands in their mouths, and as they get
older and bigger it definitely hurts (and will get worse if they aren't
being corrected properly). Most older dogs have "been there, done
that, moved on".
Make Me a Match. Puppy love is often no more than an attachment
to a look or a color. If is not much of a basis on which to make a
decision that will hopefully last 15+ years. While that puppy may have
been the cutest of the litter, he may grown up to be superactive (when
what you wanted was a couch buddy); she may be a couch princess (when what
you wanted was a tireless hiking companion);' he may want to spend every
waking moment in the water (while you're a landlubber); or she may want to
be an only child (while you are intending to have kids or more animals).
Pet mis-matches are one of the top reasons Rescues get "give-up"
phone calls. Good rescues do extensive evaluating of both their dogs and
their applicants to be sure that both dog and family will be happy with
each other until death do them part.
Companionship. With an older dog, you automatically have a
buddy that can go everywhere and do everything with you NOW. There's no
waiting for a puppy to grow up (and then hop he will like to do what you
enjoy). You will have been able to select the most compatible dog; one
that travels well; one that loves to play with your friends' dogs; one
with excellent house manners that you can take to your parents' new home
with the new carpet and the new couch. You can come home after a long
day's work and spend your time on a relaxing walk, ride or swim with your
new best friend (rather than cleaning up after a small puppy).
- Rescue Dog Bond. Dogs who have been uprooted from their happy
homes or have not had the best start in life are more likely to bond very
completing and deeply with their new people.. Those who have lost their
families through death, divorce or lifestyle change go through a terrible
mourning process. But, once attached to a new loving family, they seem to
want to please as much as possible to make sure they are never homeless
again. Those dogs that are just learning about the good life and good
people seem to bond even deeper. They know what life on the streets, life
on the end of a chain, or worse is all about, and they revel and blossom
in a nurturing, loving environment. Most rescues make exceptionally
affectionate and attentive pets and extremely loyal companions.
folks think dogs that end up in rescue are all genetically and
behaviorally inferior. But, it is not uncommon for Rescues to get $500
dogs that have either outlived their usefulness or their novelty with
impulsive owners who considered their dog a possession rather than a
friend or member of the family; or simply did not really consider the
time, effort and expense needed to be a dog owner. Not all breeders will
accept "returns", so choices for giving up dogs can be limited
to animal welfare organizations, such as Rescues, or the owners trying to
place their own dogs. Good Rescues will evaluate the dog before accepting
him/her (medically, behaviorally and for breed conformation), rehabilitate
if necessary and adopt the animal only when he/she is ready and to a home
that matches and is realistic about the commitment necessary to provide
the dog with the best home possible.
Choosing a rescue dog
over a purchased pup will not solve the pet overpopulation problem (only
responsible pet owners and breeders can do that), but it does give many of
them a chance they otherwise would not have. But, beyond doing a
"good deed", adopting a rescue dog can be the best decision and
addition to the family you have ever made.
a dog and get a devoted friend for life!
by Mary Clark at Labrador Retriever Rescue, Inc. Permission has been
granted to freely reprint and distribute this document as long as LLR,
Inc. at http://www.lrr.org/ is credited.