Rescue Me

It’s that time of year when Facebook explodes with posts about a pet being a lifelong commitment and exhorting people to rescue their next pet from the local shelter.

To that I say, “Yes and maybe.”

Yes, a pet is a lifelong commitment. A pet is hard work. Don’t be the idiot who gets a cute, fuzzy-wuzzy puppy for Christmas, only to neglect it when the fun wears off. Don’t be the dope who runs back to the shelter in dismay when the puppy you never took the time to train chews up all your furniture. Just. Don’t.

Sure, consider adopting from a shelter. Dogs and cats die daily because no one takes them home. So, go. Take a look around. Maybe fall in love.

BUT… know that a shelter dog might come with issues you aren’t prepared to handle. You can’t always know what you’re getting or how the pet will gel with your family, friends, and neighbors. You may find that after a legitimately troubled dog or two, you’ll forget about doing your part to save the strays of the world and look for a reputable breeder to ensure good health and proper early socialization. You might find you’re willing to pay a little extra to start from scratch with a puppy whose parentage you know and whom you can train to be an integral part of your family. You might find your purebred puppy’s propensity to chew shoes isn’t nearly as frustrating as your shelter dog’s propensity to eat cats or your adopted dog’s propensity to urinate every time you pet him as foul juice oozes from inadequately expressed anal glands.

I’m not a huge proponent of breeders, even if we clarify that to mean “ethical breeders,” but this past year, after the loss of our sweet boxer, our family went through two grown dogs, one from a shelter and one from a friend. Neither situation ended well. Each of the grown dogs, as hinted to above, came with issues beyond our family’s ability to address. I firmly believe a dog should be a part of the family, and so I hated – HATED – returning the dogs to a no-kill shelter and our friend’s family. Even the dog who peed all over my house, stank so bad I couldn’t stop crying, and bit my daughter with his gummy mouth… Yeah, I hated taking him away from my son and husband. Talk about feeling like a total failure as a wife, mother, and pet owner.

The point is, whether you decide to adopt from a shelter or purchase from an ethical breeder, do it wisely, and do it without guilt. Don’t expect either to be easy. Pets are hard work. You have to do what’s best for your family, and sometimes the right dog isn’t in a shelter.

So if you do opt for the ethical breeder route, don’t feel ashamed when you see those heartstring-tugging Facebook posts. Instead, look at your sweet purebred and smile. She’s just what you needed.

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