As you know, we have 2 Border Collies and we love them to pieces. The eldest Jay is a rescue dog who we had from Freshfields in North Wales when he was 10 months old. We weren’t planning on getting a dog at that time, we only went to the centre to offer help in walking the rescue dogs, only to find that Jay was the only dog there and the centre was only licensed to rescue cats so had to re-home him immediately. 10 minutes and half a walk later and we were handing over our donation fee and putting Jay into the back of the car!
Ellie, our youngest came along 12 months later and we had her from a puppy. We had been away on holiday a month before and put Jay in kennels for the week; coming home after spending 7 days racked with guilt that we had left Jay alone whilst we soaked up the sun, we saw a notice for Border Collie pups and came away with a chubby brown fur-ball.
Some people are happy to re-home older dogs and adopt from rescue centres and as dog lovers I am sure each and every one of us would do this is feasible. But it is not always possible to head to your nearest rescue centre and bring home a dog. With rescue dogs there are many factors to consider such as temperament – a dog is in a rescue centre can come with baggage of their own, feelings of abandonment, past physical and mental abuse, fear of certain people or situations (not that all rescue dogs are this way.)
The temperament and personality of the dog is especially important if you have children or other dogs at home and so rescuing a dog is a not a decision to be taken lightly. When we first got Jay he was in his own mental hell, terrified of men, bags, bus shelters, cars, sheep (this being the reason the farmer was going to shoot him before he was rescued). I remember spending months in the car park of our local supermarket, him sitting in the car with the boot open and us sitting next to him just letting him watch people pass by (an animal behaviourist suggested we try this with him to socialise him). In fact it took 3 years of hard work and very difficult times to get to the point where Jay is just like any other normal dog now. He still hates men, but we don’t judge him on that! He gives us and others so much love and joy that it was worth every second of the time and money we spent on him.
However, had we known what a mammoth task we were in for when we went to the rescue centre that day, would we still have brought him home. I honestly can’t answer that one. Given how much we love him now, life without him would be impossible to imagine. But it has certainly not been easy and when you are talking about your first dog and you have little to no experience in dealing with canine issues, the road ahead can be difficult – albeit very rewarding in the end.
Obviously it is worth remembering that just because a dog is in a rescue centre, it does not mean they have issues or will not make the best dog possible for you and your family. But you have to take your time when making these choices….talk to the centre staff, ensure you know as much as you can about the dog, spend time with them before making your decision and if you have others dogs already, always introduce then and allow them to spend quality time together before adopting. Rescue staff are always so happy to help with your questions and decisions as they don’t want dogs to end up back in the centre after a failed re-homing, causing further issues for the dog.
My personal advice on your choice of dog is that of you have the room in your life, heart and home for a rescue dog, you will not find a more grateful pet to share your home with. The joy of knowing you have given a new hoe and new life to an animal that had been abandoned is worth more than time and money.