Let’s talk about the dog rescued at the local dog shelter. In a recent article, I sought to raise awareness about dogs found in a dog rescue shelter, but now let’s get a better understanding before entertaining dog shelter adoptions.
An abandoned dog can be in the dog shelter for a number of reasons. It can be a rescued dog, freed from great tragedy or depravity. But don’t overlook the reality that some dogs are abandoned simply because they were bad at bad psychological, emotional, or treatment-induced behaviors and obsessive dog behaviors that previous owners couldn’t handle. Beware! Don’t buy another man’s problems!
Shelter reviews are not all created equal and cannot all be trusted. To avoid potential distress in the future, it is advisable to get professional help in the evaluation before selecting your pet. We discussed evaluating dog adoption candidates in another article, but remember to do it with your eyes open and an open mind.
Still, don’t overlook the fact that many rescued dogs (like my Border Collie, Gatsby) make fabulous animals and ideal pets. Gatsby’s story involves two of the main reasons so many abandoned dogs end up in dog rescue shelters:
(1) His first owners abandoned him simply because they were lazy, irresponsible, and did not value their precious pet.
(2) Its next owners were wonderful and loving people, but they experienced a catastrophic illness.
Yes, Gatsby needed a bit of rehab and extra training when he came to me, but now he’s a loving, beautiful, sweet, obedient, loyal, patient, and balanced pet that steals people’s hearts left and right. He helps enforce the “pack rules” when I care for and train other dogs in my household. He loves people but is cautious, and he would defend me with his life!
Bottom line: there are wonderful animals waiting to be adopted from a dog shelter. But you must be prudent, informed, and careful. Matters of the heart can be tremendously deceptive if not controlled with the knowledge, understanding, reason, and competence to do what is best for the person of your choice. In other words, don’t be a “softie”.
Yes, I am very much in favor of checking your local shelter or a breed of dog rescue organization to see if a certain dog will steal your heart. Every dog deserves a second chance, as long as it is safe for a home environment. In fact, good adoptions at a dog shelter can bring joy to a family.
Abandoned dogs include both stray dogs and purebred dogs and puppies. In fact, between twenty-five and thirty percent of the dogs abandoned in shelters are purebred. My Gatsby was one.
But don’t avoid mixed breeds either. I have had some wonderful mixes. However, mixed breeds can have their own health issues and can of worms – too many to mention here. Just make sure they are compatible breed mixes, because conflicts in natural instincts can in some cases cause incurable psychological problems.
For example, Labradors and Golden Retrievers have the same mentality … but a homebody who wants to be with his people mixed with a tough individualistic runner, such as a Labrador and Huskie mix, will cause inner confusion for the hapless pet . The behavioral results of such emotional problems may be the reason a certain dog was left at the shelter in the first place!
When will people “get it”? Dogs don’t jump! You can’t just take them “for a test drive” and then dump them again. Unlike plastic toys, “Puppy in my pocket” and “Littlest Pet Shop”, dogs have feelings, and proper treatment and care for them DOES matter. Your decision is serious.
Rescued dogs often get a bad rap because of the conflicts and other factors mentioned above … and because people who adopt them often feel they need to make up for the dog’s sad past. They try too hard to do that, through love instead of providing structure.
If you don’t go with anything else, remember this:
After having a sad or horrible past, your shelter dog deserves the opportunity to be a normal dog. That alone will make him happy … without pampering, giving in, and other signs of your weakness. Your comfort and safety stem from your strength, consistency, and guidance as a true leader. Be one!
If your dog is afraid of something, make him face it. Then the fear will disappear.
NOT addressing the issue leaves you IN THE PROBLEM …
Remember also that many shelter dogs are big animals. Just choose wisely and treat them like you would any dog … so they can live a full and happy canine life!