- Whether or Not You Adopt, Please...Please Shop.
Dogs have been domesticated for longer than any other animal except perhaps the horse. In that time we have created the widest variety within any species on planet earth.
The fact that a pug and a wolf are technically the same species is absolutely mind blowing don't you think?
But a pug and a wolf are - despite being close enough relatives that they could hypothetically make "Wugs" together - completely different animals. Living with a pug is absolutely nothing like living with a wolf. For one thing, the pug will require a LOT more health care, but will kill fewer squirrels.
So when you bring a dog home, be it pug, wolf, or any of the variations in between, it matters which one you pick.
How much do I want a dog who chases anything that moves?
How much do I want a dog who likes to snooze on the couch?
How much do I want a dog who feels everything I feel?
How much do I want a dog who needs to run for hours every day?
Do I want a problem-solving braniac?
Do I want a sensitive dog who is easily stimulated by touch, sound, and sight?
Do I want an easy-going but slightly oblivious goof ball?
Do I want a serious dog or a mischief maker?
Do I want a dog who is independent or a dog who likes to be micromanaged?
Do I want a dog who can hang out alone all day?
Do I want a dog who needs to be glued to human beings to be happy?
Can I take care of a disabled dog?
Many adopted dogs end up back at the shelter when they flunk out with yet another family.
Not every family is equipped to deal with a dog who has a history of trauma, or who was born to a mother who had a traumatic life. Not every family is equipped to help a dog heal from PTSD, or to bring home a grab-bag puppy who could contain any combination of doggy traits.
THAT IS OKAY.
It is okay to say, "my family has very specific needs, and I won't be doing a dog a favour by bringing home someone we can't provide for."
But it's also important to remember that there are wonderful dogs in shelters who just got matched with the wrong family. And you could be the right one.
That's why you need to figure out what you're looking for.
Dog breeds have been bred for hundreds of years to have a certain collection of physical and temperamental traits. If you have very specific requirements for a dog - like you need your dog to remain under your strata's 25 lb weight limit, or you want a dog who will have a non-shedding coat, or you want a dog to herd sheep all day in the pouring rain, then you are better off looking for a dog who was bred to fit those requirements.
But if you just happen to like the look and style of a particular breed, look up the job that breed was bred to do and ask yourself if you want that.
After all, you wouldn't buy a race car and complain that it makes a terrible ride-on lawn mower, would you?
...Then don't bring home a border collie and complain that it's obsessed with chasing things, or a beagle and complain that it won't heel. They were bred for a purpose, so they're going to be best for that purpose.
Purebreds are also far more likely to have health problems, so check your vet bill budget, too. Corgis and dachschunds have dwarfism and pugs have skull and spinal abnormalities. They will take extra care.
And that's great! It tends to lead to a healthier dog, for one thing. It also tends to smooth out some of the more extreme personality traits that purebreds can sometimes have bred into them. But if you want a very specific type of dog, you're taking a real gamble.
There a border collies who are couch potatoes, and there are pugs who think they're coonhounds.
Whether you pick an expensive puppy from a breeder or bring home one at the local shelter, get to know the actual dog before you commit to bringing them into your family. Have someone who lives with the dog, or puppy, to tell you if this puppy is active or lazy, dainty or clumsy, sociable or shy.
Never assume that you know what your dog will be like just because of their breed or genetic heritage. Some dogs just haven't read the manual.
Some dogs are born on the street. The majority of the world's dogs are feral city dogs. Some rescues focus on taking these dogs off of the street and putting them into people's homes.
The dogs don't usually get a say in this.
If you have been born and raised on the streets of Mexico, you may not WANT to be shipped to the Pacific Northwest to live trapped in a house. Some dogs do - they are delighted to have a family and a home. Other dogs, I think, really miss the freedom of their old life.
In places like Vancouver, where there are no feral dog populations, dogs end up in shelters because their families didn't shop enough.
The best thing you can do for your family and for your dog is to bring home the right dog. And if you find that dog in the shelter - because there are truly fantastic dogs out there looking for the right home - then that's awesome.
But if you can't, that is also okay. It is better to get the dog you need and can live with than "rescue" a dog and break their heart.
A GOOD dog breeder is careful about where they place their puppies.
A GOOD dog breeder screen their dogs for health problems before they breed them, and screens them for temperament, too.
A GOOD dog breeder picks the right puppy for each buyer, to make sure the match is a good one.
A GOOD dog breeder will take one of their puppies back if the family can't keep them anymore.
A GOOD dog breeder keeps track of their puppies and stays in touch with the families they sell the dogs to.
A GOOD dog breeder makes people sign a contract promising to offer the dog back to them if for some reason the dog needs to be rehomed.
GOOD dog breeders are not contributing to the number of dogs in shelters. People who produce dogs responsibly and home them responsibly are providing what all puppies deserve - a loving home, a healthy genetic heritage, and a lifetime of being loved and cared for.
If you shop for a breeder like this... if you recommend breeders like this... then you are saving dogs.
1. Someone let that dog be born, and didn't take the care to make sure it ended up in the right home.
2. Someone brought that dog from somewhere else, and didn't take the care to make sure it ended up in the right home.
If we are not in a position to rescue a dog, the best thing we can do is be sure we don't give money to someone who creates dogs who will someday need rescuing.
If you are looking for a dog, and you find a breeder who will let you pick out your own puppy based on looks, then that breeder is creating future rescue dogs.
If you are looking for a dog, and you see a "rescue" that is taking dogs out of one country, shipping them to very different environment, and delivering them directly into an adopter's home without meeting them, providing them with support and training, or matching dogs based on temperament - then that rescue is not rescuing - they are just moving dogs from point A to point B.
If you are looking for a dog and you find someone on craigslist whose dog had puppies, and they're selling the puppies to whoever shows up at their door - then that person is creating future rescue dogs.
Please don't ever give money to someone who is creating future rescue dogs. Please don't support people who treat dogs like commodities to be sold, instead of individuals to be cherished.
Please look for the breeder who shows that they have a lot of interest in you, in your situation, and who has opinions about which puppy would do best in your home.
Please look for a rescue who isn't just mass importing feral dogs and charging people adoption fees, but who are specifically selecting dogs who would do well in the Pacific North West, and who are careful about where they place their dogs.
Please look for the dog that is right for you - whose personality type matches yours, whose needs and lifestyle fit yours well. Because when you do that, you are saving THAT dog from the shelter... even if you're buying them from a breeder.