Saving a dog’s life may be one of the greatest and most rewarding acts of kindness you will ever have experienced and the feeling will remain in your heart forever.

If you love dogs and are thinking about adding one to your family, but a puppy is just not a good fit,  I hope you will consider adopting a rescued dog.


Here are a few good reasons.

1.       Older/rescue dogs are not as effort intensive as young puppies. Chances are good that they will already be house trained; a big issue to think about if you are not able to devote time and energy to proper training that young puppies require. They also don’t have the same restrictive and schedule demands as a puppy. Once they have adjusted to their new home, older/rescue dogs will usually sleep through the night and don’t necessarily awake too early in the morning.

2.       Not having to cope with the chewing and teething stage of a young puppy may be reason enough to look for an older dog that has been through this phase already.

3.       Adopting an older dog should guarantee that medical exams, vaccinations, de-worming, appropriate testing if necessary, such as fecal exams or blood work, as well as neutering or spaying, have been performed by a veterinarian.  A health record would be provided when you adopt your new dog so that your veterinarian of choice can continue to provide appropriate care in addition to regular wellness check-ups.

4.        An older dog provides almost immediate companionship. A relationship between you and a puppy will take time to develop, as well as, allowing for the developmental time needed for the puppy to be able to participate in many of the activities you would like to do together.

5.        If the dog you adopt is over a year old, you pretty much know what you are getting as far as looks and size are concerned.

6.        In most situations, a rescued/older dog is “grateful” and eager to please its new family.  Many times when you “save” the life of a dog, and give it a loving, safe, and comfortable home, a special and stronger than usual bond forms between the two of you.  But don’t expect that from day one. The first few days or even weeks with your new older, the dog may be just like a person starting a new job or a child starting a new school.  The real personality will shine through after the comfort zone sets in.

There are a few things to be aware of when your newly adopted dog has not come from a previous home of love and kindness.  Often, it’s more likely to be a situation of shyness,  fear, reserve, hiding, retreating, not playing, hardly eating, not barking, tail down, /or not showing any signs of affection or wanting to be touched.

For those of you who adopt a dog that has been abused, you might want to consult with an experienced trainer and canine behaviorist. Abused, neglected, abandoned, and unsocialized dogs need very special care and handling. Sometimes love is not enough. Consult a veterinarian and talk to professionals who are skilled in handling abused dogs on a routine basis.  Usually, someone at the rescue foundation was assigned to work with the dog and will be very helpful in offering valuable information and advice.

Suggestion:  Many rescue organizations have programs for volunteers to walk the dogs.  Become a volunteer. Spend time at the shelter and become familiar with the shelter dogs. I bet you will fall in love with more than one.

Jenna-ralities:  Don’t be put off by the immediate reaction a dog has to you when released from his/her kennel.  They will usually be over-excited at the thought of getting a family or afraid and seem overly quiet. Take some time and go for a walk with the rescue dog that tugs at your heart. Try to get away from the kennel area where he or she is kept. Many shelters have rooms or trails just for the purpose of getting acquainted. Please, keep in mind that this adoption should be for keeps.

If rescuing an older dog becomes a reality, you need to be prepared for that first night together and the next few days after that at the very least.  Don’t bring home a mature dog and leave for work or go shopping for dog food and supplies,  EVEN IF YOU INTEND TO USE A CRATE OR CONFINEMENT. The new environment is a huge adjustment without adding to the stress.  Have everything you need at home before you arrive home together.

The first few hours/days are a big adjustment for both of you, especially for the dog, who is in an unfamiliar environment with a “stranger;” namely you!   Make the first few hours “quiet time” or “getting acquainted time” or just spend time walking through the house or yard, looking at new toys, getting familiar with a new bed, bowls, and feeding area. Take a walk, pet, talk, feed, groom, and play with him or her when the time is appropriate.  Most likely your “new” older/rescue dog will be frightened or apprehensive, to say the least.
Remember, not to change the usual food or if you decide to do so, do it a little at a time by adding the new food to your dog’s old food.  Any additional sudden change will manifest itself and make its presence known in behavioral and /or health issues.

A word to the inexperienced:  No matter how well behaved your new dog is during the initial getting to know you period, do not leave your new friend alone to wander the house when you have to leave or a bedtime.  Love may have already set in but trust is something you both need time to develop.

Before you make any decisions, it would be wise to consider taking a visit to one of your local shelter/adoption facilities and go for a stroll with a rescued dog. You might just bring home the best friend you ever had.

So, once again it becomes a matter of the heart.  If you fall in love with a puppy, older dog, or a rescued dog, I hope you will protect, nurture and love that dog for a lifetime.

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