My parents always advised me never to buy a used car, because I would just be buying “somebody else’s problems.” Unfortunately, that’s how some people view rescue dogs – as dogs that weren’t wanted because they had problems and didn’t make good pets.
In the vast majority of cases, that’s just not true! Most dogs that come into rescue were not given up because they were “bad dogs” nor had behavioral problems. Unfortunately, many people buy dogs without thinking about the time, effort, and expense involved in keeping a dog. These dogs end up in shelters, or along the side of the road, or, if they’re lucky, in rescue. In fact, the most common reasons a dog ends up with a rescue organization include the following:
- The owners don’t have time for the dog.
- The owners find that they can’t afford either basic vet care or the expense involved in treating an illness or injury.
- The owner dies or goes into a nursing home.
- The owners divorce and neither party can keep the dog. (You would be amazed at how many dogs we get as a result of divorces!)
- A young couple has a child and no longer has time for the dog, or the dog no longer fits into their “lifestyle.”
- The owner is moving to an apartment building that doesn’t allow dogs.
We also get dogs from shelters, where they have ended up because they were lost, and from puppy mills, where uncaring owners have used the dogs as breeding machines and don’t need them anymore. Some dogs who have been prisoners of puppy mills turn out to be the most loving and affectionate dogs we see; it’s as if they know they have left their miserable pasts behind forever.
This is not to say that all of our rescue dogs come to you with perfect manners and are perfectly socialized and housebroken. Dogs that have been neglected and abandoned need training and gentle discipline to become good canine citizens. But so do the puppies people buy! And a rescue dog usually needs much less training than a pup. Chihuahua & Small Dog Rescue dogs always spend time in a foster home, with an experienced dog owner, before they are placed in an adoptive home. During that time, they are evaluated (in terms of their personalities-how well they deal with other dogs, with children, and so on) and trained (housebroken, socialized) if necessary.
Another myth is that rescue dogs are, by definition, inferior to dogs bought from a breeder or pet store. Dogs that are rescued came originally from show breeders, pet stores, and hobby breeders-they run the gamut when it comes to origin. They are a cross-section of the dog population, and, as such, are no more or less likely to have genetic problems than any other dog.
Reasons to Choose a Rescue Dog
Those of us who volunteer in rescue all have at least one rescue dog, and we know what terrific pets they can be! Here are some reasons to consider a rescue dog, rather than buying a puppy, if you are ready to add a dog to your family.
You’re not starting from scratch…
When you buy a puppy, you’re essentially bringing an infant into your home…a completely untrained, un-socialized little critter who thinks the crate you bought for him is a jail (and who cries to get out…at 3 AM!), the newspaper you put down for him to squat on is a wonderful toy to be shredded, your new shoes are much tastier than rawhide, and your best carpet is an excellent substitute for grass when nature calls! Because rescue dogs spend time in foster homes before they are adopted, they come to you with at least some social skills and some degree of housebreaking!
Training is easier…
Whatever additional training needs to be done with a rescue dog will be much easier than training a puppy. It’s like the difference between training a one-year-old child and an eight-year-old. Dogs that have been around for a while just “get it” faster than puppies-especially housebreaking! The bond is strong. Dogs that have not gotten off to the best possible start in life-who have been neglected or even abused-tend to be very loyal and affectionate. Remember that dogs are pack animals, and they take their treatment by the “pack” their owners and families-very much to heart. A dog that has been neglected or abandoned once is usually eager to become part of a loving pack, where she feels safe and secure, and is likely to act accordingly. We find that rescue dogs are generally eager to please their new owners. Puppy mill rescues often want to be in your lap at all times and will follow you from room to room, just to be near you.
Fewer vet fees…
Rescue dogs have had physical examinations, have been spayed or neutered, have been tested for heart worm, and are up-to-date on shots. When you buy a puppy, you pay for the dog AND for puppy shots, spaying or neutering, and any other basic medical expenses.
What you see is what you get…
When you buy a puppy, you can never really be sure what type of dog you’re going to get. All puppies are cute and playful, but their adult personalities aren’t visible until they’re about two years old. So you don’t know whether you’re getting a dog who wants to play all the time (ALL the time!) or a couch potato. When you rescue a dog, you know what the dog’s personality is like and whether it fits with what you want in a dog companion. You also know, in advance, about any problem areas the new owner will have to address. It teaches your children good values. Face it — we live in an extremely materialistic society, in which TV teaches kids that everything can be bought, that they should get their parents to buy them everything, and that anything worth having costs a lot of money. Adopting a rescue dog for your family presents a wonderful opportunity to teach your children basic values of compassion and caring, and also about the value of second chances.
Why Aren’t Rescue Dogs Free?
We are asked this question frequently. Some people think that, since they are willing to take a homeless dog off our hands, we should give them the dog without an adoption fee. Well, that would be nice, and in a perfect world it would be possible. But vet care for our rescue dogs costs money, which Chihuahua & Small Dog Rescue, Inc. must recover, at least in part, in order to go on rescuing. Each dog must have a physical examination, receive any required vaccinations (for rabies, parvo virus, etc.), be tested for heartworms, microchipped and be spayed or neutered. The organization pays for these procedures. The fee we charge for adoption is to cover medical expenses for the dogs in foster care. Our volunteers and management people are not paid a salary of any kind. There are also many dogs which the adoption fee will never cover all the medical bills for dogs that require unusually expensive care. Please keep this fact in mind: The adoption fee for a rescue dog is usually somewhere between $200 and $300. The going rate for a puppy at a pet store (a puppy that, in all likelihood came from a puppy mill) is between $400 and $700. And you still have to pay for vaccinations and spaying or neutering on top of that. Rescue dogs are a bargain.