We’ve been thinking about pet adoption. Hashtags like #AdoptDontShop and #instarescuedog are everywhere, encouraging people to adopt, rather than buy a puppy from a breeder. But is adoption right for everybody?
Advantages of Adopting a Rescue Dog
Rescuing a dog brings warm, fuzzy feelings, it’s true… but it has other advantages over buying a puppy from a breeder. Firstly, rescue dogs are usually older than puppies. So, depending on their living situation, they may well have had basic training, meaning you might not have to worry about toilet training or recall. Being older, they have already developed their personalities- if you want a lazy dog, an energetic dog, a marathon runner, a lap-warmer, or a sit-beneath-the-table-in-the-pub dog, it’s virtually guaranteed that there’ll be a rescue out there that’s perfect for you. Also, if you want a particular breed, a particular size, or a particular fur type this should be possible too!
One common misconception is that rescues are ‘difficult’- sometimes this is true, but lots of dogs end up in rescue for other reasons, such as the death of their owners, and have no behavioural problems at all. Another advantage is that the majority of rescues will provide ‘lifetime back-up’. Thus, if you were to struggle with your dog, if your dog developed problems, or if for any reason you had to relinquish the dog, they’ll be there to help you out.
Don’t forget that most rescues will have been vaccinated, neutered, microchipped and had flea and worm treatment applied before you take them on, which can save money. And some rescues will even offer to pay for ‘known’ diseases so that there’s less financial burden on you. That’s a lot more comforting than the stories of breeders who sell puppies with health conditions and then are uncontactable when difficulties arise. If getting a puppy is really important to you, it’s important to remember that some rescues will also have puppies looking for new homes.
And as we said at the beginning, adoption of a dog brings a warm fuzzy feeling- not only have you rescued your dog, but by opening up a space in a foster home or kennels it means another dog can be rescued.
Advantages of Buying a Puppy
It would be wrong of me to suggest there aren’t advantages to buying a puppy. For one, the huge choice of breeds and breeders out there means you should be able to find a puppy that meets your needs, even if you want an obscure breed. You also usually get your new dog at a slightly younger age- 8 weeks is the minimum legal age in the UK- which means you play a larger part in socialising that puppy. If you have a specific ‘job’ in mind for your dog- such as a therapy dog, shooting dog, or agility champion, then getting an 8-week old puppy also means you’ll be able to start training younger.
Is there anybody who shouldn’t adopt or buy?
When it comes to getting a new dog, it’s important to do whatever is right for you. It’s worth considering your age when you make this decision- for older people, an older dog who provides companionship with fewer demands might be more suitable. The same goes for very busy people- many young, working couples would be better suited to a retired greyhound than to a young puppy. If you’ve got large financial constraints, you should think about the costs associated with keeping a dog: rescues may come neutered and with recent preventative medications given, but they’re also more likely to come with pre-existing problems or diseases that won’t be covered by any insurance you take out to cope with medical bills.
How do you find a rescue dog that’s right for you?
If you’ve decided on adoption, trust the rescue centre to help you to find the right dog for you. While it can be great fun scrolling through the websites of large, national rescues and choosing pets based on location filters and looks, it’s often best to talk to the rescue in person and see what they think. It’s generally easier to phone or email a rescue and list your requirements (make sure to let them know about pets, children and work situation) and ask for a match than it is to repeatedly call about ‘favourites’ you’ve seen online only to find the website hasn’t been updated.
If you have a specific breed in mind then make sure to check whether there is a rescue group specifically dedicated to that breed- in the UK there’s one for almost every breed. These rescues are often small, and there may be a wait for your pet, but they’ll be a wealth of information and they’ll know exactly what to advise you if you run into problems. The main problem is that there’s a high chance they won’t be local to you, so be sure to bear that in mind.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options to a few dogs, it’s time to set about meeting them. This may be at a kennels, or maybe at a foster home. The rescue will help to organise this and will be on hand to answer any questions you have about the dog, his health and his behaviour.
The Bottom Line
Adoption isn’t for everyone, and if you don’t think it’ll work for you, then there’s no shame in buying a puppy. But in order to make sure your new pup is healthy, finding a reputable breeder is essential. There’re loads more information on The Puppy Contract, including a check-list of ways to tell whether your breeder is a good one, things to ask the breeder, and some simple health checks you can do when you meet the dog to help you make a decision.