I have always been one of those people who has a soft spot for pets. Dogs, cats, birds, horses, lizards—it really doesn't matter what you own. Pets will always have a special place in my heart because they fill a bit of a void for all of us. Life is not complete without a pet, at least I've always believed so.
I always had a pet growing up. First there was my cat named Zoodles, and later in life we got our first dog, Chinook. The cat and dog didn’t get along in the least, so the cat resided in the basement and the dog reigned as supreme queen of the main floor. That was the arrangement for them and it seemed to work.
Alas, pets age and we said goodbye to Zoodles. Chinook is getting up there as well, but at 14 she is still spry for a Husky. She has everyone fooled that she is an old and frail dog. I expect her to be around for a few more years.
So, when I finally got a place on my own (ish), I decided that I wanted to get a dog. I was ready for the responsibility of pet ownership. Sure, I could have gotten a goldfish or a cat, but my heart was set on getting a dog. In a way, my heart has always been set on getting a dog some day.
I didn't want to get a puppy. I didn’t want to start from that new. I had done that before with Chinook, and I knew that I couldn’t dedicate the time to it at this point in my life. Nothing against purchasing puppies, but I'd always said that my first dog would be a rescue so off to the shelters I went looking for my new friend.
I've always had a particular soft spot for German Shepherds. My family has a history of owning them, I grew up around them, and I have always considered them to be wonderful dogs. So to say I'm a little biased about the breed would be accurate. And when I began my search, I was looking for a dog that fit the German Shepherd appearance.
The dog I found was not the dog I went looking for. I originally visited the Northumberland Humane Society in Port Hope, Ontario looking to see a fluffy German Shepherd cross named Xena. The name, more than her adorable photos had actually caught my attention. But when I got there, it was Roxy that won my heart.
I'm not sure if anyone else had this experience with their rescue dog, but it was definitely a memorable moment for me. I walked into a room full of kennels, full of barking dogs, and there sat Roxy, quiet among the chaos just watching me. It was at that moment I knew that she was the one I wanted to take home with me.
It was a three-day adoption screening process, a $200 fee, but she got to join the family. And we haven't looked back since.
Now I will say one thing about rescuing a pet. You don't always know what you're getting yourself into. Roxy came with a disclaimer. She wasn't leash trained. She had a high prey drive. We were instructed that she couldn't live with any other animals (cats, dogs, rabbits, etc.). And we were warned that she had been attacked by a porcupine at a young age.
Other than that, she was a mystery for us to figure out. And it has definitely been a mystery. It's been a year and a half since I acquired my new friend, and I have zero regrets.
We've learned a lot in our time together and we've grown a lot in our time together. I hope to share those experiences with you as I continue to lead you through "A Pet Owner's Journey."
Pet adoption or rescuing is not suited for every family and every living situation. Rescue animals are unique cases and introducing a rescue animal to a home that has small children, children with special needs, elderly individuals, a busy life schedule, a lack of structure, or a lack of adequate space can cause more harm than good to the pet.
Please consider your situation carefully when weighing the pros and cons of rescuing a pet versus purchasing a puppy from a breeder. There are benefits to both depending on your needs.