I am a huge adoption advocate, so, when I meet someone who chooses to buy their dog rather that adopt, I am always curious as to why. Up to now, three main reasons are given. I refer to them as the Three B’s: breed, baggage, and bonding. Are they sufficient reason to buy instead of adopt?
Let’s begin with the easy one, breed. I understand and agree that this can be a valid concern. Too many of us have heard stories of people who bring home a cute puppy only to find it grows into a dog that does not fit their lifestyle. If you like to spend your days off on the couch watching movies, a herding dog is probably not ideal for you, unless you actually have sheep in your back yard. Sadly, this is how some dogs find themselves in shelters and rescues.
So, yes, it is wise to research breed characteristics, although no guarantees warranty that all dogs fall neatly into these. Once you have decided what breed will work for you, the next step is finding the actual dog. However, you don’t necessarily need to buy to get a desired breed. Did you know many breed-specific rescues are out there, like Utah Doberman Rescue or Utah Friends of Basset Hounds? Why not consider giving one of them a try? Or visit a local shelter; approximately 25 percent of dogs in shelters are purebreds.
Now to baggage and bonding. I’d like to tackle these together as I believe they are often connected. Do some rescue dogs come with emotional baggage? Absolutely. Some of them have never known stability; they have been passed around since they were puppies. Others come from a background of abuse or neglect. Could these circumstances make bonding challenging? Possibly.
I say put yourself in their paws for a moment. Do you remember your first love? How you gave your heart without reservation? Then something happened and your heart broke. Next time you met someone who piqued your interest, you were likely less quick to give your heart. Trust wasn’t just given, it needed to be earned, and so is the life of many rescue dogs. They suddenly find themselves in another home with strangers. Can you imagine what must go through their minds? “Will they be kind to me; will they feed me; will they keep me?”
I have adopted three dogs, and my experience with each has been different. Even after suffering horrendous abuse, my first dog, Twinkle, bonded with me immediately. He held no grudges and loved unconditionally. My second dog, Kizmit, was more complicated; he too experienced a difficult past but did not trust so readily. The bonding took longer. However, once he gave himself over, he was a loyal, loving, incredible little man. The extra effort was well worth having him as part of my family. Bramble, my new little pup, made herself at home straight away, loving me like she had known me forever. She is joy and love rolled up into a crazy haired, long legged, tiny six pound package of energy.
All dogs are unique. They will all present you with challenges, adopted or not. But, once you have bonded with a rescue dog, it’s special, an accomplishment for you both.
Some people will always go to breeders. It’s a personal decision, and I totally respect that. My one hope is they seek out reputable breeders and avoid backyard breeders and puppy mills. Nevertheless, I am also confident that there are others who will always adopt. Some have witnessed shy, scared, insecure dogs blossom into confident, happy, loving companions. They understand the power of patience, love, and commitment. Dogs that were once unwanted become treasures to those who welcome them into their lives.
Rescue dogs may not come from generations of champions or with papers, yet, to those of us who love them, they are precious, priceless pups that brighten our world and help make our houses homes.
Yvonne Harper is a Washington-based author who, through her books, Blind Faith and Blind Faith Expanded, helps raise awareness and celebrate the lives of special need rescue animals. Her books contain photographs and stories of special need rescue dogs and cats.