Sunday, October 12, 2014

Why We Didn't Rescue

This post has nothing to do with style or even fitness. Instead, I’d like to address the question I’ve already gotten several times: Why didn’t we adopt our second dog from a rescue group?

The short answer: we tried. We have approved applications on file with the two largest Border Collie rescue groups in Northern California. Since April, we’ve applied for a over a dozen dogs. Of all those dogs, we only got to meet one. Rock, a beautiful, young merle collie, is athletic and smart, but he attacked Jasper within minutes of meeting him. Thankfully, he found a home on a ranch where he could romp to his heart’s content. The rest of the dogs we applied for also found homes. Most were adopted by other applicants before our “turn.” A few linger in foster care because our situation was deemed unsuitable by the foster parents. (We were told by one parent that the occasional seven-hour day Jasper spends alone, in the house, was untenable for rescue dogs.) But they will eventually find their forever homes. (I suspect, with their foster parents!)

When I expressed guilt as one of the reasons I wanted to adopt our second dog, Rock’s foster mom told me: “Never feel guilty for getting your puppy from a breeder. It’s the only way you know what you’re getting.” When we failed to adopt a pre-owned border collie, we explored the breeder options in the area. Beefy and I have only worked with reputable breeders who supply records on both parents and ask to be informed of any health issues with the pups. It is a source of comfort to know that our pup’s parents suffer from neither hip dysplasia or collie eye. Jackson’s breeder met Jasper and allowed us to introduce him to the pups at 6 weeks to ensure we made the best match possible.

Why did we want another Border Collie? For all the same reasons we selected a BC the first time! They are medium-sized, athletic, energetic, smart, biddable, and cat-safe(ish). We considered other breeds, but ruled many out because they wouldn’t be able to do Jasper’s favorite activities, had breed-specific health issues or were likely to be a danger to our kitties. I could have gone with a standard poodle for dog #2, but Beefy objects to them as frou-frou.

I have no issues with mutts, but, not knowing the parentage, you can’t predict the dog’s temperament or ultimate size. With Jasper and five cats already at home, safety is paramount. I can’t risk aggression behaviors or a strong prey drive. I’m also afraid of bringing home a small pound pup, expected to become a medium-sized dog, and ended up with a 100+ lb animal. As much as Beefy covets giant dogs, we don’t have the space in the house, yard, or car for something that large!

Why did we add a second dog to our family at all? Well, this is the least defensible answer: for Jasper. We do all the things a human can do for a dog. Obviously, we provide food, water, shelter, and veterinary care. He also gets a minimum of an hour of aerobic activity a day and exercise for his mind, as well. We do on-leash runs, off-leash hiking, games of frisbee, agility, and swims in the river. He is constantly learning new tricks and vocabulary. (You should see him push the walk button to cross Folsom Avenue!) But we can’t provide doggie companionship: wrestling, chasing, (play) biting. Each time I left a doggy play date with his friends Rosko, Charlie, or Yoshi, I was sad that it couldn’t happen more often.

Jasper now has his live-in playmate. Jackson is a healthy 8-week Border Collie pup and integrating well into the household. (Less than 24 hours after picking him up, we got a call from the breeder asking for an update.) He’s already learning “outside,” “potty,” “house,” “sit,” “come,” and his name. We are looking forward to many years as a two-dog family. At the end of that run, we will try to adopt (and maybe foster), again.

14 comments:

Rija said...

Never mind why didn't you rescue. Why haven't you shared a video of Jasper pressing the button?

Very nice of you to explain your choices. Jackson is so beautiful.

CindyM said...

He is adorable beyond words. Congratulations!

Kasmira said...

I'll recruit Beefy as camera man. (Normally, this button pushing is in the pre-dawn dark. We will have to stage an afternoon crossing!)

C said...

oh no...: "I could have gone with a standard poodle for dog #2, but Beefy objects to them as frou-frou."

I have a mini poodle that could make Beefy cry, but that is another story! One of his best dog friends is a BC. poodles are actually hunting retrievers and they are so smart that they can manipulate you. good luck with the two BCs. They may also be able to take over your household. (you mean all this time I have been wrestling, chasing and play biting, I could have just gotten another dog to do that? Now you tell me....)

Jenna said...

I saw a beautiful Jack Russel called Millie on the website for our local rescue center, she was so beautiful and adorable and the perfect size for our home but my partner dislikes them :-(
I had dogs when I was younger and have started thinking that I'd like to have one again.
I know that dogs at rescue centers really need a home with someone but at the end of the day you also have to find a dog that you love and will love you because you are going to be together for a long time, and that means that you might end up getting one from someone who breeds them.

Anonymous said...

<3

Linda Loui said...

Thanks for the great post, Kasmira. We rescused two mixed breed puppies over the last year and a half and you are right - the first got so much bigger than we expected (80 lbs) and the second did not get nearly as big as we thought (35 lbs). Fortunately, they don't mind the size difference and are great playmates for each other. The smaller one can keep up on walks and runs just fine, but if she had turned out to be say, 15 lbs, maybe not so much. Also, the big one is very aggressive with his playing and can't go to the dog park; the little one has fear issues with people who are not in our household. We love them and will work with their issues, but I totally get why some may prefer to know exactly what their dog's breed is. No judgement from me, just very happy for you and Beefy. I respect your intelligent approach to getting exactly the right fit for your family!

Beefy Muchacho said...

I should clarify that my objection to poodles has little to do with their tendency toward frou-frou, and is more based on a negative experience I had with a large black standard poodle as a child...

Though, I'm not down with the overly froufy grooming either.

Rosemary said...

Beautiful dogs!

Getting a dog "for Jasper" is actually a very defensible reason. We did the same thing for our cat Bob, by getting him a cat of his own. He was thrilled to meet Jake, and the two are now the best of loving friends. Although Bob and Jake both love us and enjoy the time we play and cuddle together, there is something about having a companion of the same species that seems to fill a real need for them. They sleep together, groom each other, and mock-fight to their heart's content. And we never need to feel guilty about those times we have to be out of the house for long periods, because we know they will never be lonely.

IrishRedRose said...

To Beefy: the funniest thing ever for me as a pet owner was getting a 'lion' aka poodle cut for our Persian cat!! He looked so proud of himself! Mind you, he really needed it, poor guy. He couldn't keep up with his own fluff.

Kasmira, I too think getting a buddy for Jasper was the best reason of all. And this was a really interesting post for me, because as a TOTALLY inexperienced dog owner who also has kitties to protect, I don't believe I'd feel able to get a rescue dog (unless it was something which couldn't go too too wrong, like a Yorkie puppy.)

A dog that turns out badly is a huge problem if you won't or can't retrain or rehome it. I have some friends in SF who made the mistake of keeping a completely disturbed rescue dog they are in no way qualified to help or deal with; he rules their life, causes constant problems with neighbors because he is so aggressive they can't even put him in the (fenced) yard for a few minutes or walk him without extreme caution, etc. They can't have dinner parties anymore because he flips out and won't stop trying to get out of their back room and attack the guests--it's a bit of a social damper! He's basically crazy and nobody seems to be able to fix him. So they are stuck with this huge issue, and the dog loves them, so they feel responsible.

I just don't worry about my cats doing Really Bad Things, other than barfing in my shoes or clawing the couch. (I swear sometimes they team up on destructo-projects when they are mad at us for going away overnight.....)

Jackson is absolutely adorable. Such a beautiful little guy. Looking forward to seeing more of him AND the walk button video. :-)

BamaCarol said...

I think that was a great reason to get a second dog!

Anonymous said...

I wish a long, healthy life to both Jasper and Jackson. They look adorable together. Dogs are the best.

Sheila said...

We always adopt from the shelter, but cats only get so big! I can totally understand wanting to go the breeder route, and you shouldn't have to defend your decision.

MoonlitCherri said...

Your dogs are beautiful and look very loved.