As an adult, I started in dogs through rescue. I had a roommate that had a three-legged Yorkie mix. He was neurotic but ultimately a very loving dog and if I think about it, he’s the one who set me down the path of working with fearful dogs. Argos, my little Italian Greyhound mix was an owner surrender. His owner’s boyfriend had gotten Argos as a Christmas present for her. He lived outside for three months in the Pacific Northwest winter before he was turned into the rescue I got him from. While he was miserable and a bit thin, I doubt he ever suffered abuse. He was in the shelter’s care less than two weeks before I took him home.
Ash was from racing Saluki lines in Qatar but was originally bought by a person unaccustomed to caring for puppies. As such, he was left in a yard in summer in Qatar. He was fed and watered, but the ticks were eating him alive. It’s very unlikely he would have made it out of puppyhood without the rescue’s intervention. Despite neglect, I also don’t think he’s every been abused. Yet when I got him home (after three different foster homes over the course of several months) he hid under the table. He didn’t want to get out of his crate. He spent a very long time adapting to my house.
I got Tabiri today. I’ve already had people ask me if I rescued him. If he’d been abused or attacked because of his scars. I am certain that is a question that will follow him his whole life. But Tabiri’s scare were the result of an accident, likely from all but skinning himself on the fence in his yard. His previous owner loved and cared for him and found a surgeon who would be able to sew Tabiri’s skin back together. Despite that love, that still didn’t make that home the right fit. That’s not his owner’s fault. There are so many different dog breeds I could never live happily with. That doesn’t make it his breeder’s fault for, despite careful placements, not predicting the future.
So no, I didn’t rescue Tabiri. I didn’t adopt him. I got him from a breeder. Same as if I’d gotten him as a puppy. If I hadn’t taken him, he would never have ended up in a shelter. He never would have been placed in a home just for the sake of putting him in a new home, with no concern whether it was the right fit. He would have lived the rest of his life happily with his breeder, with his mother and sister and other dogs. That is what responsible breeders do. They care for their dogs their entire lives and will always take them back. All of my Azawakh would go back to their breeders if something happened to me or if for some reason they no longer were the right fit for me.
Ash truly is a rescue. He would have died if someone hadn’t gotten him into a new situation and I will forever be grateful to the women who got him out. But I didn’t rescue him. I purchased him from a rescue. Yes, there’s that controversial term when it comes to shelter and rescue dogs. But I paid money for him and I’m not going to pretend I did the hard work when that distinction belongs to other people. I’m still in contact with the people who rescued him. If something ever happens to me, the rescue will take him back no questions asked. Because that is what responsible shelters and rescues do. They even would have taken Argos, who they never had in their care, but they know the rescue I got Argos from was shady and now defunct and they wanted him to have a place to go.
I cannot stress enough that regardless of where you get your dog, get your dog from someone who is your partner and will be for your dog’s entire life. Get them from someone who will always answer your questions and be kind about it. And know that just because a dog has insecurities, that doesn’t mean they weren’t loved in their lives. Life is a lot. Change is hard. Those are two statements that hold true for both humans and dogs. Give your new dogs time to adapt and adjust, whether they be a puppy, a senior rescue, a flighty teenager turned into the shelter, or an adult dog rehomed from a breeder. Give them time to understand the new rhythm of your life (LINK to 3-3-3). And if you are getting your dog from a responsible source, you can rest in the knowledge that at some point, even if it was only a brief time in a shelter or rescue, that your new dog has been sent to you with love.