Why A Rescue?
Updated: Jun 5
Reese, my 3 year old Pitty mix, has forever changed my life since coming home in June of 2018. I always knew that I would have a dog someday and moving into my own home in the same month was the perfect time for me. I didn't have a particular breed in mind, I just knew that I wanted to adopt.
I had spent years volunteering at local animal shelters walking dogs and my heart went out to each and every animal that I came across. Behind those sad eyes was a kind heart; a dog who just wanted to love and be loved. The majority of dogs that I came across in shelters had Pitty in them one way or another, and I absolutely fell in love with the breed. The dogs that let me get close enough just wanted pets and to give kisses and my heart was so happy to hear of their adoptions.
I began searching rescues to find the perfect match for me and that's when I came across Cali's K9 Rescue and the face of 1.5 year old Reno (renamed Reese) a Pitty mix showed up on my screen; I knew I had to meet him.
Hearing of Reese's background was heart breaking. He had been abused and neglected, you could see his ribs and his spine he was so malnourished. He was very fearful and used his best defense, his bark, to keep anyone and everyone away.
I knew that if I were to take Reese home I would be responsible for showing him that he does not have to be afraid and there would be a lot of training involved to improve his behaviour around strangers. I knew he would be a lot of work, however, someone had to do it and I knew that someone could be me. I was starting a new job that month where I would be working from home so I would be able to dedicate a lot more of my time into training rather than if I were working full time away from home.
In the first month of ownership I had also
discovered that Reese was aggressive towards other dogs and this broke my heart and truthfully I wanted to throw in the towel. I had made a promise to Reese that I would take care of him, he was my boy, so I knew I had to persevere. It. has. not. been. easy. I have cried SO many times out of frustration, but I've also cried with delight when I've noticed progress or simply because of how sweet this guy is.
Our struggles will likely be lifelong but the life that I am able to give Reese compared to what he had makes this all so very worth it. He deserves, just like every dog, to live a happy life.
There are so many sweet dogs waiting for homes all across the continent. Within your own city there are numerous dogs hoping that someday someone will love them. Most of these dogs don't have nearly the same issues that Reese has, he is an extreme case. Rescues don't come without their baggage though. A lot of them have experienced neglect, have poor social skills or had issues resulting in their abandonment/surrender. The amount of dogs that I have seen in shelters that would make absolutely perfect companions though is incredible! Seemingly wonderful family pets left without a home waiting for weeks or months to be adopted.
To Adopt or Not to Adopt
I am not sitting here typing "Adopt Don't Shop" in a condemning voice wagging my finger at you. I 'shopped' for my little princess sitting beside me right now. You can read more about why I did this in my post 'Get a Puppy They Said'. I believe adopting is such a wonderful choice for everyone involved. However, I also don't think just anyone should adopt.
Adopting a rescue requires a lot of thought, planning and preparation. You generally don't know the full story and a lot of issues don't truly show until a few weeks post adoption when the dog settles in its new environment and bonds with his or her owner. Reese's dog aggression didn't show right away, I believe as he bonded with me and became protective, this came to light.
You can learn a lot about a dog with weekly visits and especially if they're in foster care. Fostering to adopt is a great option because you are offered a 'trial' per se and are also giving that dog a chance to be out of a kennel and experiencing a new life.
Rescues require training and depending on the severity of their issues this can become very
costly. Before falling in love with just a face, consider what is required for each adoptable. I was dating David who owns Riley when I adopted Reese, not knowing that Reese would months down the road be aggressive towards Riley (more on this later). At the time both David and Riley were out of province so we didn't have a chance to do introductions with Reese to see if he were a good fit. In hind sight this likely would have swayed my decision and truthfully I wouldn't go back and change anything so it worked out! Mind you I have put literally thousands of dollars and countless hours into training him.
Not everybody has this option. Time or money is not necessarily available and patience may be lacking. I struggle in that area honestly but it is crucial. I cannot train Reese with frustration or anger, and being calm is the only way to succeed. Training Reese has been so rewarding for both of us. He was so eager and quick to learn - my goodness he is so smart. He is such a good boy! In the house a perfect dog, less his barking, outside is where we encounter our issues.
Not every home is suitable for a rescue, it truly depends on the dog and the environment. I wouldn't have suggested Reese as a dog to many people I know, he was just so much work and a potential risk. A lot of Rescues like Cali's K9 bring dogs up from the states from kill shelters and these dogs are not allowed to cross the Canadian/US border if they have any health issues or aggression issues. These dogs turn out to be wonderful, but not necessarily perfect, pets for families or individuals. Social skills may still be lacking in a lot of cases but even with a puppy it is crucial to socialize and train and these issues can still arise - more on this as I struggle with Rey's leash tantrums in a later post.
Some animals enter rescues for different situations, an owner passed away or the family was unable to take care of them, which in those cases the dog can be truly a gem and a perfect family pet!
These are strictly my thoughts and opinions, I hold no judgement over anyone who has purchased over adopting a dog, surrendered a dog or returned a dog to a shelter. I am here to answer any questions you may have and I can direct you to a lot of shelters across the country including groups on Facebook!