So you’ve decided to get a dog, and you’re considering rescue. But is it right for you? Or should you go with what you know—your breed of choice?
I’ve lived with lots of dogs, my first I bought from breeder and the rest I have rescued. Here are my five reasons I have opted for rescue dogs.
1.) You Can Find Your Breed
If you want a Bichon Frise, you can rescue one. The same goes for Golden Retrievers and Labradors, and any other popular dog. Any dog that is sold by a breeder is also available for rescue. Just like you would likely have to wait to buy a puppy from a reputable breeder, you might have to wait for a pure-bred rescue, but with the internet and the many people who transport dogs all over this country, with a little research you might be able to locate just the dog for you.
Start out on www.akc.org and look for a specific breed-club’s rescue page. Each breed club has a rescue chair who knows what is happening within the breed. The AKC is a good place to start to find a reputable breeder. There are also breed rescue groups all over the country that focus on a specific breed. Search the web, check out Petfinder, and see what –or who-- turns up.
2.) Rescue Dogs Have Fewer Health Issues
Rescue dogs, in general, have fewer health issues. Purebred dogs are actually being bred for specific genes—in some cases actual gene mutations--for them to act or look a certain way. Although reputable breeders aren’t mating siblings and close relatives, some “breeders” are. Before getting any breed of dog you should educate yourself on what sort of health issues are associated with the breed, and make sure you know where the dog comes from.
Although a rescue dog, or a mutt, is often a safer bet--since it recently had an infusion of unrelated genes--it is no immune. Our rescued Beagle, is likely to have Beagle health issues, even though her mommy or daddy was a Lord-knows-who.
3.) You Will Save a Life
Although 3 to 4 million dogs and cats are still killed every year in this country, more people than ever are opting for adopting a rescue. Each choice helps move that number in the right direction.
4.) You Can Pick an Age
You don’t have to get a puppy. I have a friend who loves adopting troubled dogs. She has taken dogs no one else wants and helped them heal. She is a hero since I could never do that. All I know is that I never want a puppy again. I am happy to work on training a dog, but I at least want her to have a full-grown bladder. Gone are the days of me thinking puppies are cute for longer than a pat on the head.
Senior dogs make great pets for the right owners. If you want a dog to sit and hang out with you all day, a senior will be a much better choice than a teenaged dog.
Consider what age of dog you want. This goes well with the question: where will you be in 5, 10, and 15 years?
5.) Set a Good Example
In a world where wrinkles get airbrushed out of photos, there actually exists a size 0 pair of pants, and people are injecting themselves with botulism to look “better,” I love showing my kids and their friends that our mutts are actually perfect and beautiful in their very own way. (It helps me when I look in the mirror, too.) Sure, I appreciate a gorgeous pure-bred dog, but I don’t have to own one.
Two last things: no matter what kind of dog you end up with, getting the right dog for you and your family takes time, effort, and consideration. But the up-front work will pay off in the long run.
Also, dogs end up in rescue for a reason. Find out the reason. One beautiful Golden Retriever in Florida was given up because his daddy was going to prison. Another, a cocker spaniel in NYC consistently bit men. Both dogs need new homes for different reasons—make sure your home works with what the dog needs.
Jennifer Quasha is a writer and most recently the co-author of "Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog's Life: 101 Stories about the Ages and Stages of our Canine Companions" and "Chicken Soup of the Soul: My Cat's Life: 101 Stories about the Ages and Stages of our Feline Family Members." Check out her website at www.jenniferquasha.com.