Reasons to think about how to find your new best friend
BY JANETTA HARVEY · 15TH MARCH 2015
When we decide to bring a dog into our lives, a lot of people go puppy buying, they don’t head over to their local animal rescue centre to look for their new friend. This, despite the fact that there’s every chance that their perfect pal is sat there, patiently waiting for someone to come along and take them home. This is a massive shame, both for the dogs that have to stay patient for a while longer, but also for the families that miss out on these dogs who have deep wells of love they’ve been storing up while waiting for their new family to share it all with. Dogs love to love even if they are temporarily homeless.
During the past 20 years I have bought two puppies and adopted two adult dogs. Both ways of getting a dog have their advantages and disadvantages; both involve commitment, effort, time, patience and a heck of a lot of fun along the way. Having experienced the amazing joy of adopting dogs, meeting many others who have done the same, I believe that a lot of people misunderstand what adopting a dog involves, too readily focusing on the challenges and overlooking the rewards. People so glibly say rehoming isn’t for them as they don’t want the trouble of someone else’s problem dog, they don’t want to be asked a million questions by the rescue, they just want to hand over their cash and bring home a puppy. This is sad, so much misunderstanding, so many myths, wrong ideas and impatience drives the puppy industry and damages the chances of millions of homeless dogs.
Although adopting a dog may not be possible for absolutely everyone who wants to share their life with a dog, it IS possible for us all, at least to consider doing so.
Here are 5 excellent reasons we might opt to adopt:
1. Make someone’s loss your gain
If you think that rescue centres only have older dogs and no puppies this is so far from the truth it is galloping into another universe. Sadly, many female dogs end up in rescue centres when their owners discover they’re pregnant and deliver their puppies whilst there. Those puppies are then available for adoption and make perfect pets, once the ideal families come along to give them that chance.
Puppies also end up in rescue when owners who may have bought impulsively, without thinking about the work that a puppy involves, quickly give up and hand over to others. Puppies are too often bought on a whim without thought and it’s an unpleasant truth that puppies can lose their cute appeal pretty darn quickly for some in society. But their loss can be others gain when the puppies find their way into rescue and on into dedicated, loving new families.
2. Give a home to the homeless
Start talking about rescue and shelter dogs and many people automatically, without any real thought dismiss the possibility of taking one into their lives believing that being in rescue must mean the dog is troubled or will be trouble. Again, far from true. Dogs land in the laps of rescuers for many reasons most often none of which are to do with the dogs themselves. Marriage break down, housing issues, change in working lives, death or illness of owners, inability or unwillingness to train, bad choice of breed for lifestyle or experience, or just plain boredom with the puppy that is no longer cute, all commonly lead to dogs being put up for re-homing.
While some dogs do have behavioural issues, they are usually created by circumstances, lack of socialising, training, effort and commitment on the part of their previous owners. Good rehoming centres properly assess dogs in their care and offer adoptive families help, support and back-up to work through any issues. Far from all this being a pain for the new owners, it can be a great experience and uplifting stories abound from those who find themselves growing in unexpected ways through the journey with their rescued pal.
There’s a very good chance that once a dog is taken out of the situation that caused it trouble, given a new life with great new, committed owners who understand the needs of the dog any problems it may have had won’t reappear.
Dogs require commitment, effort and understanding whether they start their life with us from puppyhood, or when older. Great dogs languish in rehoming centres their only problem being that they’re homeless not damaged.
3. Survive the inquisition and you’ll be well set-up for a perfect match
People often fear an inquisition when they think about adopting a dog and aren’t willing to have a rehoming centre scrutinise their life and make judgement on their suitability.
However, good rescues will want to help potential adopters to find the best pet for their circumstances, both to help the dog and them. By going through a detailed assessment, it helps to make sure that for both dogs and humans involved adoption is a seamless success.
If the assessment from rescues is off-putting, decent breeders will do much the same with any potential puppy buyers – if they don’t and are willing to sell a puppy without scrutinising the life they are going to share, then buyer beware, alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear as no good breeder cares so little about where their puppies are off to that they don’t bother to inquire, scrutinise and judge – much like good rescues. They will also make you wait. If you can see a puppy for sale, go and buy and take home that day, you are not buying from a great breeder, trust me.
By embracing the assessment procedures of adoption as positive, it stops wrong matches being made and heartaches are avoided. The much feared and all-important home visit check that reputable rescues insist upon can be a great asset in helping potential adopters see their home from the dogs perspective. This is especially the case for novice owners who may not have much clue as to what makes a good, secure environment. Dogs can slip out of the tiniest opening, or leap seemingly high fences. Suggestions can be made to adopters which can avoid the unexpected and heart wrenching accidents and escapes from happening. Again, if a puppy breeder doesn’t show interest in the home environment, those screaming alarm bells should be going off. There should be little difference in the scrutiny survived between a breeder and a rescue if taking one of their dogs. Embrace it, don’t knock it.
4. Save a life
It’s shocking to think that thousands of healthy dogs are put to sleep every year because there are more dogs than there are homes available. But even when we know this, we may still hanker after a puppy of particular breed of dog, for very good reasons and dismiss looking into rehoming as it’s really only mixed breeds that are in rescue, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Purebred dogs and those with sound pedigrees can find themselves handed into rescues for a million different reasons. So, for those who do their homework on which breed is right for their lifestyle and set their heart on their particular breed, buying a puppy is not the only way to bring one into their lives. As well as centres and shelters, there are breed rescue groups up and down the country seeking homes for dogs.
If the right breed is not a big deal, but size or even age matters, rescues putting adopters together with large dogs or small dogs or more mature dogs all strive to save the lives of dogs daily.
By taking a little time to search out the right rescue group or centre it’s possible to save two lives with one marvellous act: the life of the one in rescue and the one that takes its place – as right now, in our society, there will always be one coming along to take that freed up place in rescue.
5. Get a good deal and keep your cash out of the pockets of the unscrupulous
Dogs cost money, throughout their lifetime, which we all hope will be long and happy and trying to get a bargain at the outset is not the ideal mind-set. Buying a puppy cheap is as likely to be setting you up for costly veterinary bills down the line. It really is, this is not a myth. Well bred dogs are expensive, with good reason. But, it’s good to be realistic and puppies are an expensive purchase costing many hundreds of dollars. Rehoming centres will charge adoption fees which are a lot lower than buying a puppy. So, although saving quite a few dollars is not the sole reason to consider adoption, it’s a pragmatic one that leads to a win-win for all involved.
As well as the lower adoption fee, re-homed dogs will usually already be micro chipped, vaccinated and de-sexed (if not, ask why not and be wary). All saving significant money.
Sourcing puppies these days is a minefield, especially for first-time dog owners who may not have much idea of what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to puppy breeding. Although thousands are advertised online, and some are still, unbelievably these days sold in pet shops, knowing where those puppies have come from and avoiding the puppy farmers and dealers, bad breeders and plain unscrupulous can be a tricky task.
By opting to adopt a dog we can at least be certain that we are not supporting any puppy farmers, or bad breeders who churn out puppies for easy cash with no scruples as to the welfare of the puppies or their parents.
Go, look into adoption, I’m sure you’ll find dozens of potential canine friends to choose from, just waiting to share a new home – yours.