Every dog I have owned my adult life has been a rescue. Our current furry family member, Willow (aka Show Pony – for her bounce) is the fourth rescue dog to call our family home.
If being completely honest, I wasn’t always a ‘rescue’ pet kind of girl. Of course, during my college years I had grand visions of living on acres of land occupied by several dozen dogs who city dwellers could not accommodate.
During that same period of time in my life, I also saw us as a Golden Retriever type family. Still very much an idealist, I envisioned it seated perfectly in the back of my Volvo station wagon as I traveled about doing life things.
Contrary to my college age idealism, I occupied an apartment in the city that did not host room for such animal. Working full-time, while attending school full-time also was not befitting an active dog. Most importantly, my college size budget did not lend itself to adopting a papered pooch. Then again, neither did my post-college income.
My first rescue came by way of an unfair grade on a speech in a marketing class. Some go shopping for shoes or handbags, I went to a San Francisco pet shelter and found a dog. That’s where it all began.
She had no name, a scroungy coat of many colors and little information. She was a stray. Her adoption card listed her color as ‘sable.’ Not one to be big on fur (in the way of outerwear) I thought that name suited her perfect. Her name would be Sable and yes, she went home with me.
That one simple ‘unfair’ grade would change the course of my pet adoption habits for the rest of my life. Sable was the sweetest, most kind, easy going and loving dog one could ever hope to call their own. Of course she was also beautiful and quite charming.
From that point until present day, whenever asked “what kind of dog is he/she?” my initial response has always been, ‘he/she’s a rescue.’
Recently while paying a visit to our family vet Dr. Mel Tanner, one of the Vet Techs asked this question. My reply, now habit was simply, ‘she’s a rescue.’
Doc Tanner gave a chuckle and was quick to acknowledge his approval of my reply. In all honesty until that conversation I’d never given it much thought.
As we discussed it, Doc (aka Mel) shared how he liked the fact that I lead with that. Noting that ‘rescue’ is not a breed, but by stating that you’re confirming that not only do you not know the animal breed but have a sense of pride in the animal you have and how you obtained them.
As a proud parent, both two and four legged, I’ve always enjoyed sharing with others our well behaved animals are rescued. Rescues often get a bad rap, typically from those who’ve never adopted from a shelter. When you rescue, you don’t always know the pet history, so there’s a bit of risk involved. But then again, when you take home a papered puppy you have yet to learn how their personality will develop. It’s just as big of a risk, in my opinion.
The love, patience and commitment are no different for those ‘papered’ versus rescued. Rescue families don’t necessarily rush to decisions or react hastily to a sweet face that crosses their path. Often times just like those looking for the perfect lineage in their ideal pet, we are searching shelters for the right rescue fit for our family.
Willow is a perfect example of this. Oddly Sable and Willow could be distant relatives. With over 18 years between them and multiple zip codes/miles, Willow is almost a carbon of Sable in appearance and demeanor. Good luck, right?
As our family searched for her, I knew I wanted another ‘Sable’ to live the next 15 years with our family. We lost Sable to cancer, just two weeks following the birth of my now 11-year-old.
Six months later we found her on a poster flanking a local restaurant window. Upon initial meeting she was timid, scared, not leash friendly and scared of men. There was no history as to how she would do with children and some observation that she played well with others. That was enough; she was ours.
Now somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 years of age (by guestimation) I could not be more happy with our choice.
And yes, all these years later I still entertain the option of a pure bred dog, yet somehow I still find myself looking at those posters and websites for ‘just the right fit’ for our family. Until the next time around, we remain a “rescued” family.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.