What is a "rescue dog?" Several years ago, I was barely aware that there were a lot of homeless dogs out there. All I knew was that there was a pound that the stray dogs were taken to. As I became more immersed in the dog world, I realized that rescue was so much more. There are millions of cats and dogs destroyed every year in North America. Many of these creatures would make excellent pets. Sure, some may have been very aggressive when they were euthanized, but they were the exception, not the rule.
Many rescue dogs come with some behaviour problems, but most of them are eventually curable with patient and consistent training. However, most dogs in rescue have no real behaviour problems to speak of. Most rescue dogs are owner surrenders, which basically means the previous owners just gave the dogs up. So, if that is true, then why were they given up? Well, there are A LOT of reasons why people give dogs up. Many true dog lovers could never understand why someone would give up a member of their family. Many people just see pets as another form of property and when it is no longer convenient to have dogs, they are simply given up or euthanized. Some of the reasons dogs are given up: a divorce, a death in the family, a move, a new baby, the older dog doesn't get along with the new, cute pup, so the older dog goes... the reasons go on and on. Needless to say, due to irresponsible breeders and irresponsible owners, there is nearly an inexhaustible supply of rescue dogs out there that need homes. Every single dog or cat that is rescued is a life that is saved, and it is one less animal who is destroyed because there is just no room left. If you are thinking of getting a dog or cat, think about getting a rescue before looking anywhere else... "Don't Shop, Adopt!"
So you are thinking about getting a rescue dog? There are many myths about rescue that I wish to dispel. Some of these I once thought were true myself before I became so heavily involved with rescue, so I feel it is my duty to help educate the public.
Myth #1: Rescues are all mixed-breed, Heinz 57s, and they aren't as "good" as single breed dogs.
While many rescues and non-rescues alike are mixed-breed, there are many, many purebred/single breed dogs in rescue programs all over the country. Many rescue programs are actually breed specific. So if a potential owner is looking for a boxer, he could first look into boxer rescue. Each rescue program has dogs of all ages looking for homes. Even if the dog is a mixed breed, it does not make it of lesser value. I have met countless mixed-breed dogs who are very smart, eager to please, have unique features that make him even more adorable, and are very healthy. Looking for a specific breed is somewhere that a potential owner can start, but before you decide on a breed, go and spend time with some mixed-breeds at a rescue, and you will probably fall in love with one. I promise it will be a decision you won't regret. If you still decide on a purebred dog, look into one of the breed rescue programs and go and spend time with one of them. Any dog you adopt will give you a lifetime of love. If you are looking for a breed specific rescue, please contact Dan and ask him about them. Nova Scotia has some rescue programs, but if you are from another part of the country or are looking for something in particular, let me know, as I am in touch with over 200 rescuers nationwide!
Myth #2: If I adopt a mature pet, he will not be as attached to me as a puppy would be.
Personally, this was my biggest fear before I adopted. I quickly found this myth to be untrue. My Shepherd, Mangus, quickly bonded to me. By quickly, I mean in less than two days! I don't think he could be more attached to me, even if I had gotten him as a puppy. Most rescue dogs will be the exact same way as Magnus was. They will become attached to their new owners very quickly. Many rescues come from an abusing or a neglectful situation and are so appreciative of the food and love you offer them, that they quickly adore you.
Myth #3: When adopting a rescue dog, behaviour problems are more likely than if I get a puppy.
While many rescue dogs do have some sort of behavior problem, most puppies develop them as well. However, if the owner has proper education and guidance from a knowledgeable trainer, any dog issue can be worked through, with the exception of certain aggression issues. So whether you get a puppy or a mature pet from a rescue, you may have to deal with problems that arise. That being said, many rescue dogs display no real issues. Many simply come home and adapt to the environment around them with only minimal stress.
Myth #4: You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
Actually, older dogs are easier to train. Puppies constantly challenge the owner, making it more time-consuming to train them. Older dogs accept the owner's dominance more quickly. Some of the easiest dogs I have ever trained have been between 6 and 10 years of age. Puppies are easier to train for behavioural issues, such as nipping or housebreaking, but older dogs learn the rules a lot quicker.
These are just some of the common myths surrounding rescue dogs. If you have any questions or comments about rescue that you want to be addressed honestly, feel free to write me and ask me. Click here to contact Dan.