Tips For How To Choose The Right Rescue Dog

Anyone who follows me across any of my social media platforms can easily identify a pattern in my posts/pictures/rants…. Dogs. I post way too many images of my own dog and other peoples dogs. I am officially the crazy dog lady. And to be honest, I don’t really mind being called that. Actually it’s a compliment in my world. This post was written to help others who are contemplating or thinking about choosing a rescue dog. Every dog I have ever made contact with has found a little way into my heart, even those mean ones that I was a little unsure of (not any fault of their own.  I am sure they are that way because of something that happened to them by the hand of a human). So here we go, my tips for how to choose the right rescue dog:

Tips: Choosing a Rescue Dog

As my blog sometimes drifts away from it’s original content framework (that’s a thing right?) I thought, what the hell, I may as well write about some other things that are important to me. Like the importance of rescuing animals in need. This isn’t a rant against those who choose to go to a breeder, I get it. I have friends who have and I am not trying to dog shame them. What I do want to share is how wonderful my own experience of rescuing a puppy has been. I think there are some myths about adopting that need to be taken off the table.

Nan a rescue from Northern Ontario

(1) “I want a specific breed. Shelter dogs are always mutts.” Spend 5 minutes on the world wide web and realize that there are rescues for most breeds. Seriously. And if there isn’t one in your province/territory/county or state, most rescues are very all about figuring out how they can save a life elsewhere and bring it to you! Personally,  I have met people with dogs from the US, far reaches of Canada, Egypt, China and the Caribbean. You can find a list of breed specific rescues in Ontario here. You can also do small breeds… Etc. You get the idea.

Remy a black lab rescue from Southern Ontario

(2) “They always have problems“. This is just absolutely not true. Sometimes dogs do end up at the shelter or at a rescue because they are challenging or demonstrate difficult behaviours but many of them are well rounded great dogs. And quite frankly, sometimes the human was the problem not the dog. All dogs require training, structure and a lot of work. Even the ‘easy’ ones. Like Nan. Generally speaking, Nan is an easy dog. But seriously, she has her own things she and I are working on. Another thing you need to consider is that shelters are a very stressful environment for even very balanced dogs. Often when you go to view a dog at a shelter, they are at their MAX stressed levels. It’s noisy, there are other dogs everywhere and different people handling them all day. STRESS. Oh. And they only get walked 2-3 times a day. That’s a really long time to hold it. And even if they came from a not great home prior to ending up at the shelter, they didn’t know a life any different so probably feel very confused.

Sheamie a beagle rescue from Wasaga Beach

(3) “I want a puppy“. There are so many puppies. Everywhere… It just takes a little patience. Or a longer drive outside the city – or dealing with a specific rescue who can arrange to get a puppy from elsewhere for you. In my instance, Nan’s mother was given up to the local humane society so she was BORN in the shelter. I knew her date of birth, got to meet her mother and siblings and knew she was up to date on her shots.

Nan rescued at 7 weeks old

Tips For Adopting

Really want to adopt a dog but afraid to make the big leap? Foster. It’s incredible how many rescue agencies are looking for fosters – you can have your PICK of the type of dog you would like to foster. Seriously. It’s a trial run. You get to see what it’s like, without committing 100%. And you get to help in the meantime. I once fostered a coonhound as I was really interested in the breed. The dog I fostered (I wrote about it here) came all the from the US and was wonderful. But very anxious. After 3 weeks, I knew I wasn’t a great fit as I fed into his anxiety (anxiety + anxiety = ultra separation anxiety) so I played a part in getting him into his permanent home. Everyone wins. I really doubt that anyone working with animals wants a person to adopt a dog they aren’t sure about. So it’s good for you, good for them and great for the dog. Also, if you foster, you allow a dog to be removed from a scary shelter and to have the comfort of a home. That stability, human touch and warmth does wonders for a dog.

Nan a res dog from Northern Ontario

Fostering seem like too much of a commitment? Babysit a friend’s dog for a weekend. You get a first hand experience, they get a dog holiday! Again win-win. Whenever someone says “I would love to get a dog but we just aren’t sure”, I offer up Nan. Why not? You learn by doing.

Nan as a puppy

Decide on what’s important to you and try to zero in on a type of dog that has those qualities. For example, live a pretty chill lifestyle? Don’t get a sport dog who needs 2 hours of exercise a day. Live in a condo where noise complaints happen if you sneeze too loudly? Don’t get a hound or dog that’s known for being more vocal. Never ever ever ever ever pick a dog based on it’s appearance. Do some research on a breed before you start meeting dogs. Know what you could potentially be getting into to. Although a dog may be a mutt, you can probably find out a few breeds they think the dog may have – do research on those breeds. Most dogs are incredibly adaptable but make sure you can meet it’s needs. This one kills me – so many times I read about families Googling “hypoallergenic dogs” and they just pick the first or second breed that pops up. Yikes. I know a family that got the first dog on the list, turns out that puppy needed an one hour run A NIGHT for everyone to remain sane when he was younger. Talk to people with dogs. Listen, in my neighbourhood – everyone loves talking about their dogs. See a dog you like? Go talk to the owner. Be honest. Ask about good and bad qualities. Take note of which dogs demonstrate the type of qualities you would love in a dog. Ask them where they got their dog.

Tips for how to choose a good rescue dog

“I live in the city, it wouldn’t be fair to the dog”. I would like to make the argument that many ‘city dogs’ get more exercise than ‘country dogs’. Many of us don’t have yards. We have to walk our dogs. When Nan was young, I think I spent minimum 2 hours a day walking her. I loved it. Growing up, we use to take our family dog for one walk a day and she would get tied up the rest of the time. And we didn’t have dog parks. Outside of the city, many families let their dogs in the backyard as it is convenient… But the exercise they get in the yard just does not compare to a walk to the dog park and back. Also – living in the city, I find the city to be incredibly dog friendly. Nan comes all over with us and often, our friends bring their dogs too. It is hugely social. Feel like you can’t exercise your dog enough? Hire a dog walker. Our dog walker is a wonderful support to us who has helped us out so much over the past few years.

all my rescue dogs

Saving a life is saving a life. Every dog in my family – all four of them – have been from rescues. Nan – Thunder Bay Humane Society, Sheamie – Collingwood Humane Society, Remy – Chatham Kent Humane Society and Snoopy – Toronto Animal Services. Four very very different dogs, but four amazing pups.

Tips for how to choose a good rescue dog

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