I recently read an online article done as a sort of “tips from the expert” about getting a dog for the first time. He talked about pedigree dogs and getting a puppy from a reputable breeder and then went on to talk about getting a dog from a rescue centre or pound. I was horrified when he said that most rescue dogs are too traumatised and difficult and he wouldn’t recommend it. This ‘expert’ was a vet – somebody who supposedly has the welfare of animals at the centre of what he does.
Strangely, he forgot to mention a number of very important things in his article:
1. There are millions and millions of puppies born in rescue centres all over the world that are not traumatised in any way.
2. Many pedigree puppies born at supposedly reputable breeders, are born to breeding bitches that do nothing but give birth, over and over and over: they don’t leave their cage, they don’t go on walks, they are not cherished family pets. They produce puppies, which produce money. They are commodities. Be very, very careful and do your homework when buying a pedigree dog. Puppy mills sell pups through family homes: the mothers of these pups are posed as the beloved family dog who the owners have decided should have pups “just this once”.
How sweet! And when every pup is sold, its back to the mill for that poor bitch.
3. Regardless of where you get your dog, an enormous amount of patience is almost always required, especially at the very beginning: you are a stranger to that dog when you go to pick it up and bring it home – your home is a strange environment away from what it knows…which would make any animal stressed.
4. From ample experience I know that many adult dogs from rescue centres and pounds are not traumatised. And again, from experience of having had dogs that most definitely were traumatised, the answer is simple: be prepared to show patience, understanding and kindness. It will pay off a thousand-fold, every time.
Yes, a rescue dog might very well have had such a rough start that when you bring it home it tears down your curtains, chews through the wiring, pisses on your carpet and rips the heads off your kids’ teddy bears. Yes, it will most likely cause you to tear your hair out for a period of time. Its a pain in the arse. But you know what? To a greater or lesser degree, ALL dogs will do the same damn thing, papers or no papers.
If you don’t have time, or if you aren’t prepared to put in the work, don’t get a dog at all, from anywhere. It is okay not to be a ‘dog-person’ or to admit that you simply haven’t the time. And if you have bitten off more than you can chew (no pun intended), then find your dog another, more suitable home – better for you, better for the dog.
Stretch, Pap, Lee, Ted, Plute, Bob, Toni and Winnie The Pooh…rescues and strays we have had over a 40 year period. Some of them were very sad cases, starved and abused, and others not so sad. But they all, without exception, became loyal, loving, happy pets who were (and still are) worth the effort.
And as for that dog expert, I’m pretty sure he was a breeder. There’s nothing like vested interest.