It’s not really in the plan to write about causes close to my heart as a mainstay. However, around now, and over the coming months, there will be Christmas puppies appearing in rescue centres across the country. The cute little floofs that were bought as adorable gifts for December 25th have suddenly found themselves homeless. For what? Probably for being a puppy. Or for no longer being a cute puppy any more. This might be a long one, so settle in.
I adopted Roxy in May of 2012. To anyone else, she’s likely a non-descript black crossbreed, but to me, she’s a shining example of why you should adopt over shopping. We’ve always had dogs in my family, and when I was seven we welcomed a two year old lab called Demi. She was from a breeder, but they couldn’t show her due to some dodgy teeth and she never had pups, so they had no use for her. Although she was a pedigree, she was unwanted. She was a beautiful, placid girl who was a dream to grow up with. When she died at 14, I was devastated. My Mum was so upset she swore off having dogs as the heartbreak was too much.
Fast forward five years, I land my own home and adopt Roxy. My girl was found on the streets and ended up in our local pound on New Years Day. Luckily for her (and us), all of the pound dogs in my area are taken in by a charity called Hope Rescue. They took her to their kennels and found her a foster home just in time. Roxy hated kennel life and was beginning to shut down before a fosterer took a chance on her. Rox made such an impression, the fosterer told me that if I wasn’t successful in my application, she was going to keep her. Thankfully, I was successful and her forever home was found.
The fosterers assess the dogs thoroughly, and I’d been well briefed that she had issues. They included men, kids, people in hi-vis jackets, mops, brooms, other dogs, sudden movements and loud noises. Yep. Remainders of her past life still lingered. One day not long after I adopted her, I came home to an accident in the hallway. I found her shaking and cowering, wedged behind the sofa. My heart caved in. I coaxed her out and held her shaking body, whispering to her that I loved her so much, until I was sure she knew I’d never, ever hurt her.
My Dad wasn’t happy about this adoption. He reiterated several times that he wouldn’t be helping out and he didn’t want to come and meet her. They met a few days after I adopted her, and she barked her heart out at him. Two minutes later he fed her a tiny bit of cookie (no chocolate, don’t stress) and that was that. He absolutely dotes on her. I know now that his reluctance was coming from a place of fear. Fear of falling in love with something that’s with us too short a time.
To see her today, you’d never know about her rough start in life. She lives her life with unrelenting happiness and her bond with myself and my parents is unbreakable. Every time one of us walks through the door, she bounds up to us with a present in her mouth, her tail wagging so uncontrollably she can barely keep her back feet on the floor. No matter the kind of day I’ve had, she’s there. When my relationship fell apart, she was there. When I moved out of the house, she was there. Every moment I’ve felt at rock bottom, she’s there. I was there for her when she needed me, and she’s repaid me a thousand times over. We trust each other implicitly.
The reach of her love extends past those in my immediate circle to people like my neighbours. Roxy is a source of complete joy to an elderly couple at the top of my road. She makes a beeline to their gate on her walks and they’re only too happy to let her in, feed her biscuits and bask in her affection. Such is their adoration of her, and their appreciation of the happiness she’s brought them in rough times, that they offered to pay for a pricey operation she’s having. We politely declined (thanks insurance), but it’s in moments like those that we understand just how remarkable our unasumming black crossbreed is.
We’ll never know how the first 12 months or so of Roxy’s were lived. She wasn’t thin or in poor physical condition. She wasn’t aggressive. She had no health problems. She was just abandoned by people she probably trusted and loved, despite what they put her through. Their loss has been our gain, but their behaviour is inexcusable. So, where am I going with this? If you’re thinking about bringing a dog into your life, my plea is that you adopt, don’t shop. For as many reputable breeders out there, there are irresponsible ones and many, many puppy farms masquerading as legit breeders.
Adopting is not only cheaper, but arguably vastly more rewarding. If you’re deadset on having a puppy, get a rescue pup. They get solo ones and full litters sometimes. Maybe you’ve got your heart set on a particular breed, but to this I say two things – 1) All breeds end up in rescues at some point, but have a look around for a breed specific rescue centre and 2) Don’t assume that breed is the one for you. Head to a rescue centre and meet some of the dogs, chances are you’ll fall for one. Or five. Personality trumps breed, every time. I promise you that. You may have your heart set on that sleek Red Setter, but that plucky, goofy Staffie-X could spark something in your heart that you didn’t know was there. It will make you believe in love at first sight.
I have three other rescue dogs in my life, courtesy of my boyfriend. Ginny, a French mastiff cross, Bumble, a GSD/Lurcher and Koda, a greyhound. I fostered Koda for Hope Rescue, and after a potential home fell through, my boyfriend stepped in and adopted him. Koda was dumped, with his brother, at three months old on a mountain. He’s now 9 months old and thriving. It’s been awesome watching him grow up in a loving home.
[Koda and I when he was mini]
If you want to do something incredible, rewarding and life changing. Adopt. Don’t shop. There are so many amazing dogs sat in pounds and rescue centres waiting for you. Puppies from breeders will always be snapped up. Rescue dogs can be waiting for years. The commitment is the same, but the feeling of adopting a dog is so overwhelmingly wonderful. I swear, once you adopt a rescue, you’ll never buy again. It’s a bond and a friendship like no other.
If you’re looking for a four legged addition, for all the other dogs like Roxy, Koda, Bumble and Ginny, please, please, please, take a rescue dog into your life.