Myths about Rescue Dogs
So, you want a Shar-Pei but you're not sure a rescue dog is right for you? There are many misconceptions about the quality of rescue dogs. Here we'll dispel some of the most common myths.
Myth: Rescue dogs are obviously not good dogs, or else their original owners wouldn't have gotten rid of them.
Dogs are brought to shelters/pounds for a large variety of reasons, some of which are:
- Their owners have passed away
- An irresponsible owner didn't get their dog spayed/neutered so they found themselves with a litter of puppies that they could not keep or did not want
- The dog's owners were abusive to him, so the authorities removed the pet from the harmful environment
- A dog was purchased or adopted by someone who did not take into consideration all of the responsibility that caring for a pet would entail
- Family issues; divorce, allergies, loss of job/house, etc.
Myth: It's better to get a puppy because with an older dog you never know what you're getting.
Seems to make sense, except the exact opposite is often true. All puppies are cute; all puppies love everyone. It's not until a dog hits sexual maturity that some innate behavioral problems can start to surface. Many times people, who paid thousands of dollars for a purebred puppy, end up with a two year-old dog that is biting people, attacking other dogs, or engaging in some oddball neurotic behavior. Purebred is not the same as well bred, and sometimes it feels like the disreputable breeders grossly outnumber the responsible ones. The truth is this: when we list a 4-month-old puppy, we can only guess what kind of adult she'll make. When we list a 2-year-old dog, we can predict pretty accurately what kind of dog you'll have forever.
It's true that the past medical history of an animal adopted from a rescue is not always able to be tracked down, but our dogs have the advantage of being housed in our private facility, where their temperament and health are observed, and issues identified and addressed, prior to going to a forever home.
Myth: Dogs from abusive homes will never be good pets because they have been mistreated.
Most dogs coming from abusive homes will typically make a full emotional recovery-- with proper care, attention and love. In fact, many of them are so grateful to be rescued from their previous situation, they end up being more devoted and loyal than dogs coming from non-abusive homes.
Myth: All dogs in rescue are sick or unhealthy.
Once again, it certainly IS possible that a dog in rescue came from a shelter with medical problems, however the majority of dogs are perfectly healthy, and just need a good home. Those that do come into rescue with known health issues are treated before being adopted out. If anything, you're more likely to get an honest answer about a dog's medical problems from a rescue volunteer--who is clearly there because they care about the animals--as opposed to a pet store owner or breeder that is only in it for the money.
Myth: Rescue dogs won't bond with you.
Say this to a rescue person and they will likely fall over laughing. Because the exact opposite is nearly always true--your rescue dog will CLING to you. Rescue animals often bond more strongly to a new family because of their experience of losing their previous one. Age does not affect a pet's ability to bond with a new family. Social animals, such as dogs and cats, form new relationships throughout their lives with other animals and people. A very elderly animal may take longer to adjust to physical aspects of a new home (such as stairs) than a younger dog, however emotional attachment will not be hampered by a pet's age.
Myth: All rescue dogs have behavior problems.
There is a difference between a dog that needs some training and a dog that has serious behavioral problems--and most dogs just need training. Again, dogs are surrendered to shelters for myriad reasons; lack of money or a major lifestyle change are the top reasons. Sometimes previous owners did not invest a lot of time into their dogs... especially if the dog is between puppy-hood and 1.5 years-old. The most common issues you will find in a rescue dog are simple things that some training and patience will overcome; things like walking properly on a leash, house manners and basic obedience are easily solved with positive reinforcement training. And with our rescue dogs, these problems are identified and training started before the adoption.
Portions of this article have been adapted and reprinted from various animal rescue sites on the Internet.