Meet Penny. She is a border collie/Australian cattle dog mix we rescued about 3 years ago. As you can tell by the photo, she is a very happy dog, sweet as can be, and the best companion a person could ask for.
When we initially started looking for a new dog 3 years ago we knew we wanted to rescue. However, I was surprised to find that there wasn’t a lot of information on how to rescue. Most rescues pour all their resources into getting dogs off the street and don’t exactly have an advertising budget.
Adopting a rescued dog is not like going to a breeder and picking out a puppy. Most of these dogs have been through traumatic experiences, some may have never even been touched by a human before. Here is some information that can help you find the perfect rescue for your home.
Narrow Down a Breed and Age
My wife and are are in our early 30s, active, and we live in Colorado. We wanted a dog that could go hiking with us and have enough energy to keep up. We were living in an apartment at the time so we couldn’t have anything too big. We narrowed it down to the 40-50lbs range and knew we wanted an active working class dog like a border collie or blue heeler.
Before you start looking for a rescue dog, assess your situation and how active of a dog you want. Will you be gone a lot and need a dog that is OK by themselves for hours? Are you really active and want a dog that can come with and keep up on adventures? By determining how active you want the dog to be you can narrow down a couple breeds and an age range you want the dog to be in.
Do You Have Any Other Animals or Children?
This is important because some of these poor dogs have been through a lot and may not be the most outgoing when you first get them. Our Penny was a feral puppy when we first got her. She did not have much human interaction at all besides the act of being recused which can be traumatic. Needless to say, she was very afraid of us in the beginning but LOVED our 12-year-old peka-pin named Bella. Bella helped socialize her and they have been best friends ever since.
It can be tough to fully know how animals will interact with each other but if you know your current pet is not good with other pets you will want to slowly introduce them to each other. Bring your current pet with to meet the new dog on neutral ground and make sure to introduce them slowly.
Same goes for children. They can sometimes be so excited to see the new dog they get right in their face. It’s important to understand that while you might be excited, the dog is most likely nervous and scared. Let the dog warm up to you and your children by petting it gently, using a soft voice, and giving it treats or food.
Adopt a Pet
OK, so you have done your research and have an idea what kind of dog you want to rescue. The next step is to find dogs in your area that need a home. I used Adopt a Pet to search for our new dog. It is a great resource with filters to find the right breed and age of the dog you are looking for. You can also filter how far you will travel to pick up the dog.
The typically will provide pictures, a short bio, breed information and a rough guess on age.
Once you find a dog you are interested in, you can email the rescue and let them know you are interested. Many will set up some time for you to come meet the dog and get additional information on their background.
Many people believe it is as simple as finding a dog to rescue and going to pick it up. However, many rescues want to make sure the dog is a good fit for you and vice versa. The reason being is that they don’t want a dog going to a bad living situation or someone who might return it a week later.
Our application was very straightforward and much like a job application. Background check, income verification and a home walkthrough (we just sent a video of our home). Once approved, you pay a small adoption fee (ours was $200 for Penny and a $100 refundable deposit to get her spayed) and the dog is all yours.
After Adopting a Rescue Dog
So, you got the dog you want and are taking it home to meet the family… what should you do now? My best advice is to schedule a check-up with your vet. Our poor Penny was born with worms and required a month of medication to get the worms out of her. Also, you will want to schedule a spay or neuter if your dog is old enough and hasn’t already had it performed.
Rescues do all they can to get these dogs in proper health before adopting but some minor things can be missed and they don’t always have the resources. By doing a quick check-up you can make sure your new pup is healthy and happy to begin its new life in a forever home. I would also recommend pet insurance as it could save you thousands on expensive medical bills down the road.
If you live in Colorado, Nebraska or Minnesota, check out Lightshine dog rescue. They are Amazing people and it is where we got our Penny from.