What Is A Rescue Dog?

Purebred rescue is a person (or group of people) who specialize in rescuing one breed of dog.  They are especially knowledgeable about their chosen breed and care about their welfare.  The dogs are often taken from public or private shelters.   They may have been picked up as a stray by animal control or turned in by their owners.  People give up their pets for many good and not so good reasons.   Rescue also takes dogs directly from their owners when the owner can no longer keep the dog.  When an owner dies, the family may turn the dog over to rescue for placement.  There are many ways a dog may find his way into rescue.

The dogs that come to rescue are from all types of backgrounds.  Some, through no fault of their own, find themselves without a home.   An owner dies or moves somewhere and they feel they can't keep the dog or the dog is considered not suitable to the new home.  Perhaps it was a cute puppy bought on impulse, with no thought of what it would be when it grew up.  Often, temperament problems that could have been easily corrected when the dog was young, were allowed to continue until the dog became a serious problem.  Barking, biting, and not being housebroken are common problems.  Many times it's just not the right breed of dog for that person or that particular family.

Dogs that come into purebred rescue are all spayed or neutered before placement so that none can be used for breeding in the future.   This would only continue the problem of too many dogs that need new homes.  A spayed or neutered dog is often healthier and usually will live longer.  All shots are brought up to date on a rescue dog and a medical and temperament evaluation is done.   Some come to rescue in terrible condition.  Many were strays living in the street, and some come from neglectful or cruel homes.  Long-coated dogs usually have not been groomed and are a mass of matted, dirty hair.  Fleas, ear infections and skin problems are common.  The dogs are properly groomed and bathed by the rescue group workers or by professional groomers.  They are checked for fleas, ticks, worms and other parasites. 

If possible, all medical work is done to get the dogs back on the road to a good, decent life with people that will love and care for them.  They are also evaluated for their temperament.  Will they be able to adjust to a new home?  Will they be safe with children and other pets?  There are many differences between breeds, including  size and coat care, and activity level, for example.  You need to find a dog that fits into your home and lifestyle.

A rescue worker tries to find out as much as possible about each new dog to help in finding him a new home.  Some dogs will be wonderful pets as long as they are the only dog or the only pet.  We look for the most appropriate home for each dog.  Rescue dogs come in all sizes.  Few are puppies, but most are one- to two-year-olds.  Teenagers!  Some are in their senior years and these are the special ones.  Perhaps their owner has died and left them alone.  Often older dogs still have many good years left.  Usually if they have been with a senior it is best to lace them with a senior.  What wonderful companionship this can be for a senior couple or widow or widower -  to have a pet that is in the same place in his life as the owner is, able to receive lots of love and enjoy his new home!

Rescue workers will ask many questions of you to find out the most about your situation and needs.  They will then try to match you with the right breed and the right dog for your family.  If the dog was a stray, they may not know that much about him.  It means taking it slowly at first until you get to know each other.  Most rescued dogs adjust fairly quickly and are happy to be in a home where they are loved and cared for.  When you take a rescue dog, you are truly saving his life.  If you choose a dog from a purebred rescue, be aware that this is a dog with a past.  Take things slowly when you bring him into your life.   Keep things quiet and try to establish a routine with him.  He has had a life routine before and that is his security.  If it is known where he came from it is easier; however, if he was a stray we can only guess what type of life he had before he came into rescue.  Be patient and caring with him and he should settle into your new home in a few weeks.

Choose the breed of dog carefully.   Look at many different breeds and find out as much as possible about that breed of dog.  People are often drawn to a dog by its looks, but it is the temperament of the breed you must live with.  A behavior that one person thinks is cute can be unacceptable to someone else.  Make a list of behaviors you consider positive and negative.  Do you want a very obedient dog or one with a free spirit attitude on life?  Do you have other pets that the new dog must get along with?  Consider the purpose for which the dog was bred and decide if that is going to fit into your lifestyle.  Will the dog live primarily in the house or in the yard or both?   Are you or a member of your family at home during the day?  Some dogs do not do well left alone for long periods of time.  Some may become destructive when not supervised.  Young dogs have lots of energy and may need more attention than an older dog.  How high and how secure your fence is can also determine the type of dog you should get.  A wrought iron fence may hold an 80 pound dog very well, but an eight pound dog can walk right through it.  These are all things you must consider when picking the right breed and the right dog for you and your family.

If you choose a purebred dog from rescue you are truly saving a life.  Choose the breed and the individual dog with care and understand your responsibility to this dog.  A rescue dog can bring great joy to you and your family for many years to come.

By Pam Bishop (dobra@pe.net)
Used With Permission

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