Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Deciding to adopt a puppy or rescue an adult dog - and why we chose to rescue

Having a dog has been a life-long dream. Getting one while growing up was never feasible and I basically wasn't allowed to have one by my family for fear of the potential mess and work that comes with owning a dog. It was always disappointing but I understand the reasoning though. I spent all those years doing research on dogs and getting prepared instead! I got married a few years ago and we moved out to our own house and it was such a big joy to finally be able to adopt a pup!  To give you an idea how much I love pets, I have a cat, (had) 2 birds and 2 aquariums...and now, a dog!

The first decision we had to take was whether to adopt a puppy or rescue an adult dog from a shelter. While a puppy can be oh-so-cute, there are some serious things to consider before getting one. Bringing a puppy home is much like bringing a baby home. It will have zero prior knowledge, education or experience. While this can be a good thing because you will have the chance to raise and socialize the pup on your own and make sure it never lives any traumatic events and develops into a great adult dog, there are some drawbacks. It will pee, poop in the house and chew everything it finds, lack basic manners and need a lot of tending to much like babies do. Your presence in the home is primordial when you have a puppy because their bladder is so small, they need to be let out every couple of hours to do their business. You also have to take advantage of the key socialization "windows" available to you during a puppy's first few months of life, so if you are gone a lot, you risk depriving your pup of the attention and experiences necessary for the pup's healthy social development. That's just plain unfair for the pooch. Basically, having a full time-job and owning a puppy aren't compatible. We love babies, but we weren't ready to raise one (just yet).

Now, let's say one of us was home most of the day (I WISH!) and we were ready to adopt a puppy, then there is also the very important question of *where* do you get your puppy from? I have too many friends who fall in love with the cute puppy behind the window at their local pet store, but they fail to realize that buying from a pet shop fuel the puppy mill industry and that the parents of that cute little doggy is a puppy mill dog bred year-round for litters and kept in cold, dirty cages all day without any exercise, often abused and left to die. Pet shop dogs are also usually inbred and have numerous health, genetic and temperament problems because puppy mills do not carefully select which dogs they breed. Which is why, for example, the calm and docile Golden Retriever most of us imagine, is often hyperactive, nervous, snappy and out of control when you cross it in the street. Because careless puppy mill or backyard breeding produces dogs with such nervous and other temperament problems. My moral of the story is: DO NOT adopt a dog from a pet shop unless you find it in a rescue or shelter. Why buy when you can rescue one of the millions of dogs that have been abandoned and deserve a chance at life and love?

That brings me to my next point. We settled on no other way than adopting a rescue dog. We went through the wonderful people at Pit Stop Montreal Rescue and found this wonderful pitbull mix girl called Casey. This was her description and I instantly fell in love with her when I read it.  

Her prior so-called family abandoned her because they didn't want her stepping on the carpets of their home or walking on the grass of their gardens. They didn't like her smell and were generally disgusted with her and kept her locked up and away from everyone all day. What a life!!! When they brought her in to the rescue, the rescue spayed her and it took a few weeks before we were able to meet her. We scheduled numerous other meetings with other dogs but we kept holding out knowing that this girl was special. How did we know she was the one? Ahhhh the mysteries of life!

We love our girl and although it's only been two weeks we would never change her for the world and we are 100% happy with our decision to adopt an adult dog rather than buying a puppy! It pains me to think that so many wonderful and loving dogs are put down every day because they have been abandoned and people keep buying instead of adopting! 

But (and I know I should never start sentences with "but").... but there are some issues with adopting a rescue dog, that you should be aware of. You don't always know what the background story is. We were fairly lucky that our girl came from a home - not a great one - but at least we were able to know her history. Many rescue dogs are strays or runaways and while that doesn't mean they won't be terrific pets, you simply don't know about their previous life and how it may have affected them, so it is wise to conduct a preliminary temperament test to get a general idea of the personality. (There are many useful links about this if you google how to select a shelter dog, for example, here are some that I found useful: )

The great majority of all shelter dogs will make wonderful and loving pets and despite their pasts, with patience and love, all dogs can adjust and fit in with your family. Don't fall for the charm of the puppy eyes behind the pet shop window, give an older rescue dog a chance and he/she will reward you. Remember that with adult dogs WYSIWYG (what you see if what you get) so if you are generally satisfied with how an adult dog acts when you first meet, then you are safe to assume that is how he/she will act once home. The same is not the case with puppies that can be a mixed bag of anything once they grow up and you can't easily predict which way they will go, if at all. 

That said, my hubby and I feel a great sense of accomplishment for having given a loving home to our beautiful rescue dog. She has already adjusted super super well and it has only been 2 weeks. I sense the bond has already started developing and it is absolutely heart-warming! She's a smart one and she already picked up 5 new commands within the first new week. Who ever said you can't teach an old dog new tricks? 



  1. Casey !! She's so pretty !! No Wonder you fell in love with her !! :)