Saturday, May 9, 2015

The "Pig In A Poke" Factor

It's real. Even I avoided the idea of shelters and rescue when it came time to bring a fur friend into the family, ostensibly for my daughter. I had researched breeds, I knew our family. I believed I had a good fit in mind. I was right. We wanted a Border Collie.

What I didn't know was that there were breed-specific rescues in existence! Knowing what I know now, though, I realize that they would never have allowed me to adopt. Even an animal behaviorist from a local, well-respected and widely known shelter had been refused by Border Collie rescues. Of course they had their reasons, but I have to wonder; when you've rejected more potential adopters than you've accepted, who are you really helping? Especially when a number of those dogs remain unadopted for many months - even years. I know it happens that way. After we adopted Nicki from New Spirit for Aussie Rescue, I checked back at the Border Collie rescues where I had fallen in love with numerous dogs - all of whom were denied to me. I wanted those dogs to go to good homes, even if it couldn't be my home. But there they sat. It broke my heart.

But I digress.

The "pig-in-a-poke" factor kept me from looking at rescues and shelters for our first family dog. I wanted to be "sure" of "what we were getting" - not from a pedigree stance, but from a temperament, intelligence, friendliness, etc. stance. Then one day my young daughter asked me, while lovingly playing with her red BC puppy, "Momma, how do we know she'll be a nice, friendly dog?" And I answered her "Because we'll raise her that way." And I taught both of us a lesson in that moment. Our Daisy had the kindest, sweetest, wouldn't-hurt-a-fly temperament. She was super smart. She was obedient. She was amazingly loving. She was everything we wanted in a dog. Not because we bought her that way, but because we raised her that way. Or perhaps because the way in which we raised her allowed that beautiful, gentle nature to come through in full glory.

Adopting a rescue dog, unless you adopt a puppy - and you can adopt puppies (even pure breds) from rescue - is a different story. You're not raising a dog. One is coming to you with issues from their past. But just the way you overcome the issues of puppyhood, with patience, consistency, and love, you can also overcome a rescue pup's issues. Or at least make them manageable for all of you. Rex might always chew shoes, whether you raise him from a pup or adopt him as an old man. Sometimes Rex is just gonna chew that shoe.

My point being, this blog exists to try to help dispel that "pig-in-a-poke" factor. Dogs are like a box of chocolates .....  You really don't ever know what you're gonna get. It doesn't matter where they begin. What matters is how they end up. A good, loving home makes all the difference.
Don't be afraid to encourage a friend to at least consider rescue and adoption. Point them here if they want to know what they'll get when they take a rescue dog home - but tell them I also said that I realize we got lucky. Nicki clearly hasn't always lived as a refugee. She doesn't have as much damage as some rescue pups do, but hers does still show from time to time. Just the other day she veered wide away from a man out walking, although she'd walked close by his young daughter just one moment before. Nicki has man problems. (Don't we all?) The b@$ta@rd that left her tied to his fence and then moved away was the one she was saved from, but he didn't have her for her entire life. She's too much of a Southern Belle for that. A Southern Belle again, still amidst the magnolias.

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