Make it a Rescue dog!
Author's dog, Lola.
During August of 2015, a shoebox lay in a Chicago alley. Inside, three newborn puppies whined softy, blindly climbing on each other’s backs. These lucky little dogs, Salty, Lupita, and Paco, were found and brought to One More Dog Rescue. The rescue’s team of volunteers transported the babies to Connecticut, where they were fostered until my family adopted the amazing Paco. This little dog has brought so much happiness to our family; it is ridiculous. He’s calming and comforting at times, a playful and fun distraction at others.
Photo of author's dogs, Lola and Paco.
Many people spend thousands to get a Yorkshire terrier, but we paid only a reasonable adoption fee because he’s a rescue dog.
Rescuing dogs has risen in popularity over the past decade, as Americans choose to forgo pet stores in favor of saving homeless dogs. Proud dog owners fill social media with pictures of the furry friends they’ve rescued. According to WorldAtlas.com, dogs are the most popular pet in the U.S., with almost 50 million households owning at least one dog. Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular breed for over 25 years. No matter the breed, it’s official, America is in love with dogs. In particular, rescue dogs.
Rescue dogs are big right now. Soon we will even have one in the White House! Donald Trump had been the first President in over a century that did not have a pet. Many are happy to see a dog back in the White House. Joe Biden will enter the Presidency with two dogs, Major and Champ, and Major is a rescue.
Oddly enough, Joe Biden recently sprained his ankle playing with his rescue dog. Don’t blame the dog; accidents happen! Or maybe we should blame the dog, at least a little. Fetch by WebMD notes that cats and dogs were associated with about 1% of the estimated fall injuries treated in emergency departments. Most injuries involving dogs occurred while walking the dog. The top circumstances reported for dog-related injuries were “fell or tripped over the dog” (31.3%) and “pushed or pulled by the dog” (21.2%). This should not stop you from getting a dog, but it is something that you should consider in deciding to adopt.
Right now, everyone and their brother is trying to adopt a dog. With kids’ distance learning and many parents working from home during the pandemic, people find they have time to devote to a new pet. Training, teething, walking, and housebreaking, tasks that might have seemed daunting pre-pandemic, now feel like manageable tasks. Many are looking to dogs as an antidote to loneliness and stress with activities and events canceled due to lockdowns. Not unlike the toilet paper shortage of the Spring, there is now a pup shortage. Many shelters and rescues now have waiting lists as applications for dogs have skyrocketed during the pandemic.
My parents, for example, a retired couple that loves to take walks, have a nice yard, and experience caring for a dog, have been unable to adopt a dog during the pandemic. They would be ideal adopters, but they have been passed over multiple times from multiple rescues. They have been told that hundreds of applications had been submitted for each dog. Having served as foster parents for children in the past, they joke that it was easier to foster a child than to adopt a dog.
Breeders and pet stores are another option for would-be dog owners, although they too are having a hard time keeping up with customer demand.
People with few plans have the time to invest in a dog. Dogs do take up quite a bit of time. They need to be trained, walked, fed, played with, and loved. If you are considering adoption, be sure that you fully understand the commitment you are making. Dogs can live on average 10–20 years depending on the breed, and they are completely dependent upon their human. You must be willing to make sacrifices as a pet parent. Please do not adopt unless you are sure this is something you can commit to.
Benefits of owning a dog
- Dogs make us feel less lonely.
- Dog owners have lower blood pressure levels and improved responses to stress.
- Petting a dog can reduce heart rate, slow breathing, and reduce muscle tension, reducing stress and anxiety.
- Dog owners are better able to cope with crises and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Dogs owners get more exercise on average than non-dog owners.
- Other people find dog owners more attractive.
- Dog owners have an easier time making friends.
- Dog’s facial features are scientifically proven to be appealing to humans.
- Staring into your dog’s eyes causes the release of oxytocin, the “love hormone.”
- Dogs increase cognitive function and interactions, making humans smarter!
Costs associated with adopting a rescue dog
Cost is another factor when deciding if you are ready to be a dog parent. Most rescues charge an adoption fee to defray the cost of spaying, neutering, vaccinating, feeding, and transporting the dog. This fee can be anywhere from $200-$800, depending on the rescue, your location, and the age of the dog. You will also need to bring the dog to your personal vet for a full checkup. If you adopt from out of state, be aware that you will need to get a vet visit within 3 days of arrival to your state and may need to quarantine before taking the dog home. If you adopt through a rescue in your state, they will have done this already. Besides medical costs, you will also need food, bowls, treats, toys, flea and tick medicine, heartworm medicine, leash, collar, blanket, bed, and crate. It would help if you also considered training classes. Your pup will be with you for a long time. You want him to be able to follow basic commands to make life easier for both of you. It will get you off to a good start on your relationship and bonding with your new dog.
Which dog is right for you?
Choosing the right breed can be difficult when you first start out looking for a dog. You really need to consider size, temperament, energy level, and type of fur maintenance required to make your decision. Many websites have quizzes to help you decide what type of dog is best for your family. If you absolutely have to have a certain breed, it may take longer to rescue, but all types of dogs do end up in rescue. With a little patience, you should eventually get your ideal pup. While most people looking to adopt want a young puppy, older dogs’ many benefits should not be overlooked. An older dog will most likely be calmer, know some basic commands, and are usually housebroken. This is never guaranteed, though, and you should expect a few accidents while the new dog is acclimating to your home. Elderly rescue dogs also tend to be extremely grateful. This is true for Lola, my elderly rescue Chihuahua. She is happiest on a lap or snuggled under a blanket.
In her former life, Lola was kept to breed puppies. Her little 5-pound body had several litters before her former owners were arrested for making meth in their trailer. As a writer, I appreciate that rescue dogs also come with a story, another bonus! Lola is truly grateful to have given up her Breaking Bad past. She makes sure to show us every day with lots of kisses and snuggles.
When getting a new dog, you should expect the Rule of 3’s. It will take 3 days for your pup to begin to relax. They will first want to take in smells and explore. It will take 3 weeks for your pup to really begin to recognize your routines. You will begin to see more of their true personality. It will take 3 months for your rescue dog to feel truly comfortable and place their whole trust in you. Be patient. The time you invest will be worth it.
If you have considered all aspects of dog ownership and are certain it is for you, take your time, be prepared to fill out several applications, and be prepared to wait. Be patient. The right dog will come along, and your life will never be the same. So if you decide it’s a dog’s life for you, consider a rescue, despite the waitlist.
Here are some links to help you with your search: