You have probably noticed that I sort of love my dogs. I’m sort of obsessed, partly fixated, very much enamoured of these little beasts that live in our house and sleep in our bed with their heads on our pillows. It’s a personal problem I need to address.
Part of the problem is that generally everyone who meets these little pups just reinforces my own fantasies about how wonderful they are. They love to cuddle and play and beg with doey little eyes. They are quiet and clean. Falcor looks like a living teddy bear. Enid looks like someone who needs to be loved. They have made dog-lovers out of pet-skeptics.
So obviously, overall, I would advocate that you get a dog if you feel like you want a companion and a friend that you have the time and ability to care for. Go for it, find a dog, bring it home, change your life. But…
Don’t buy it from a breeder. Just don’t. And for the LOVE of the universe, do not buy it from a pet shop. You don’t need to support the industries of competitive inbreeding or, worse yet, puppy farming. You’re a fool to waste your time and give your money to those pursuits that don’t serve animals. There, I said it.
Look, I know what you may be thinking. Perhaps you think that rescue dogs are troubled, have baggage, untrainable. But you are wrong. It may be true that some rescued dogs, Enid being a prime example, had a very difficult lot in life before being adopted. And those difficulties can lead to fear issues, include timidity or possibly aggression. But with love, hard work, and consistency, most dogs will come out of the other ends of those troubles. And dogs who have been treated poorly, to my mind, deserve to be pampered and fussd over. I don’t know anyone who has a rescued dog and regrets it based on behavioral issues. Perhaps my friend can attest to this when she tells you about her pal Rocky. ALL dogs can cause you grief, it’s possible that a rescued dog could cause a little extra. But it’s also possible that, as Falcor shows, a rescued dog comes prepared to accept love from anyone giving it and to socialize with any dog he comes across.
Maybe that’s not what you were thinking, maybe you were thinking that you would rescue a dog, but you want a specific breed and you don’t think you can find that breed at a shelter. Firstly, I would tell you that oftentimes mixed-breed dogs have fewer health and behavioral problems because genetic diversity is much stronger than the inbreeding that goes on to create bloodlines of purebreds. But, if you have your heart set on one type of dog, you still can’t be excused from rescuing a pooch. If you google the type of dog you’re after and the word ‘rescue’, I can almost guarantee that you will find an organization that attempts to find homes for dogs of that breed who are either homeless or surrendered by previous owners. Ask Liane and her Lab/Poodle mix Barney.
For as much as we love pets, the problem of domestic-animal overpopulation is severe. Choosing to adopt your pet from a shelter or rescue organization is, in a small way, doing your part to lessen the problem of homeless pets and to abstain from supporting the unethical puppy industry. Why not?
What’s that you say? You’re not a dog person? Please don’t think that will get you off the hook so easily! Behold, the two most beautiful cats in the world. Sweet Pea (may she rest in peace!) rescued from the Humane Society in 1987 and Potato adopted from the SPCA in 1999. Beloved, grateful, and cuddly as can be.