Everybody, say hello to Brody. Brody is my sixth foster, bringing the current population of my house to four dogs, two cats, and two humans.
Somewhere in the distance, I can hear the voice of my past, saner self, saying, “One foster at a time. One is plenty.”
To be fair, Brody probably won’t be here long. As the title suggests, Brody might actually be some kind of celestial being, so I’m sure he’ll find a great home in no time. No matter how short his stay, though, Brody is worth writing about, because somewhere out there, someone is making another bad excuse to buy a dog instead of adopt one.
For anyone who wants to jump in with a spiel about people having every right to buy a dog from a breeder and it’s not breeders that are the problem it’s puppy mills and you are just so sick of people hating on breeders, please, spare me. I’ve heard it all.
We clear? Let’s begin.
This post is not a comprehensive, exhaustive comparison of adopting versus buying a dog. I don’t believe much in life exists in black and white, so although I obviously think people should adopt dogs instead of buying them, I’m not digging into all the shades of gray of rescues versus shelters versus puppy mills versus breeders. Frankly, I’m not going to say anything original here, just reiterate that amazing dogs end up in shelters all the time.
Brody came here from a shelter in Tennessee. He arrived last Saturday afternoon after a very, very long ride. He got off the trailer and spent the rest of the day meeting about a dozen new people, including kids, and playing perfectly with about a dozen puppies. He didn’t know me from Adam, but he had no qualms about letting me pick him up and put him in a bathtub. He didn’t make a solitary peep the whole ride home. He already knows a few basic cues, and the cats? Didn’t bat an eyelash. As a bonus, he’s an absolutely beautiful dog with fur so soft it’s like hugging a cloud.
If I didn’t have a few tendrils of sanity clinging on, I’d be adopting this dog myself.
Finding a great dog in a rescue or shelter isn’t exactly new to me, of course. The most obvious example is Nelson, our own dog. Nelson is, depending on the particular moment, a gorgeous golden beast or a snorty goofball, but he consistently gets along with cats, dogs, and people of all shapes and sizes. We adopted Nelson from Pitty Love Rescue, and he’d already been waiting a few months for a home.
Then there’s my previous three fosters, all of whom are lovely dogs whose biggest “fault” was not being house-trained on arrival. They fit seamlessly into their new homes with kids, cats, and other dogs. Their new families haven’t looked backed.
Animal rescue is often talked about in terms of sacrifice, hard work, and stress, but not every case involves the dramatic rescue of an abused animal who must learn how to trust people again. Any dog can be an amazing companion in the right home, with the right people and the right training, but I mention these dogs specifically because they’re already amazing companions. It’s not difficult to be their person; you don’t have to be a trainer or an expert or a martyr or a millionaire for them to fit into your family. Moreover, dogs like this aren’t rare. You don’t have to tear through shelters and rescues all across the country to find one. You just have to be open to the idea that your perfect dog may not have been born of parents with names like Themyscira’s Eldritch General Llewellyn Begonia Skywalker.
I understand having an attachment to certain breeds. I love Dobermans. I’ve always been partial to their size, power, grace, and general coolness. I like them a lot, but for me, liking a breed a lot wasn’t a good reason to spend $4,500 on a puppy. That’s not a good enough reason for most people, so they justify it in other ways: “If you want a loyal dog to protect you, you need a Doberman/Rottweiler/Cane Corso,” or “If you want a family dog, you need a lab or a Golden Retriever.” On that note, I once heard a guy say, “I need a Hummer because it’s the only car I feel is safe enough for my family.” That happened. In real life. Not even kidding.
If you don’t raise it right, that Rottweiler puppy you spent a billion dollars on will be afraid of everything. If you put it in the wrong situation, that Golden Retriever will bite your kid. So ask yourself, if a purebred pedigree that goes back six generations can’t guarantee you’ll get the dog you want, why are you spending hundreds or thousands of dollars? Why are you passing up every dog in a shelter or rescue when your perfect dog is probably there, waiting? If it’s just because you think the Rottweiler/Golden Retriever/Hummer is cooler/prettier/better compensation, fine, but be honest about it, at least with yourself. Don’t say it’s because rescue dogs all have behavior issues, or they were dumped for a reason, or they’re all old or ugly or have health issues. It just isn’t true.
Here’s the deal: If what you want is an Appenzeller Sennenhunde puppy and only an Appenzeller Sennenhunde puppy will do, okay, go find yourself a breeder. If what you want is a dog who will love you and love your family and bring you happiness, there’s no reason not to rescue. You never know what kind of angels you’ll find around here.