You cannot change a dog’s past, but you can rewrite his future. Rescued animals are not broken, they’ve simply experienced more life than other animals, writes AVANTIKA BOSE
Whenever we think about getting a warm, furry friend for ourselves, adopting a dog is the last thing that crosses our minds or it’s something that we don’t even consider. We start searching for all the good pet stores or breeders. Though pet stores or canine breeders may seem the more advantageous choice, rescue dogs can be equally rewarding and perhaps even better additions to your family.
Each year millions of innocent dogs are tortured, neglected, abandoned, and abused. These “castoffs” struggle to survive under stressful and often horrific circumstances — alone at the mercy of the elements, without food or water, without the care or aid of human beings, without love and compassion, and without hope of companionship, friendship, help, or support from people.
Ultimately, these animals end up in municipal animal shelters or welfare organisations and if they are too weak or ill, or in any way display aggressive behaviour (keep in mind that they are terrified and traumatised in their new environment), they will be euthanised. When you adopt, you save a loving animal by making them a part of your family and open up shelter space for another animal who might desperately need it.
People have this general perception that it’s better to buy a dog rather than adopt one from a shelter. They feel that shelter dogs won’t be able adjust to their home environments or that they can’t be trained. In fact, when you buy a puppy from a pet store you are unknowingly supporting Puppy Mills — which are large scale breeding operations that put profit ahead of animal welfare. Female breeding dogs are forced to produce litter after litter until they can no longer breed, at which point they risk destruction. Many Puppy Mills dogs have never been out of their cages, have never felt grass under their feet, never been hugged in a way that makes them know that they’re cared for. By saying no to a pet store you are saying no to animal cruelty.
It’s very simple actually, it all depends on the time and effort you’re ready to invest to keep your dog happy. Adopting isn’t about saving a rescue animal but also finding the right match between dog and owner to begin with. The biggest advantage of adopting a rescue dog is that not only will you find out about their quirks before you make a commitment but also that the dog will be well adjusted to life in a home environment. You can speak with the people working in the shelter and figure out exactly what the dog is like before adopting him or her.
So here’s all the bits and bobs about the cute furry chum you’re planning to adopt: You can adopt a fully trained dog; see the dogs’ true personality; the dog has already been screened; you pay less for a rescue dog; a lot of choices are available — puppies, adults, seniors; find a great match for your lifestyle; and many shelters have this ‘foster to adopt programme’ to see if the dog can adjust to your home and lifestyle.
When talking about successful options dog behaviour expert, Patricia McConnell stresses two words: Patience and faith. These two attributes can help ensure that the rescue dogs forge lasting bonds with their new family members. As humans we love a ‘happily ever after’. Below are a few happy tail stories about adopted dogs who have found their forever homes.
Harshita and Kyla: My dog’s name is Kyla. She was born at my society in Noida. I found her in the basement of my society one day. And few months down the line, I saw her hurt. My society guards were hitting her to shoo her away. I ended up having fights with most of my society people, in the process of saving this life. One day finally, my neighbours picked this dog up from her sleep, and went and send her from sector 45 to the sector 18 market. I found out about this from the kids in my society who loved her just as much. Unfortunately, I had already lost 3 days. After 13 days of prayers and thorough search, finally, thanks to a guard of Garden Gallaria Mall, I found her. Ever since then, she has been at my place. I had put her up for adoption initially, but with time, and no response from anyone, she is now a part of our family, and is in fact smarter than my beagle in so many ways. I genuinely believe, adoption is the best thing we can do. We’re giving a life another chance and in the process creating a great cause for our own lives too! And believe me, they’re no less than any breed. Their bodies have the strength to fight through illnesses and there’s just so much to love about them. Adopt one, to know more.
Arushi and Cozy: Two years back on Diwali, I found Cozy who must have been one month old. She was weak, lost and extremely scared. I along with my friend Srishti tried to catch her but we couldn’t as she ran. The next day a few kids in my colony informed me and my friend about a pup being pulled out of the sewer, and to our relief it was the same pup we had seen the night before. We took her back to the building’s gallery area and kept her in a box filled with a lot of cosy blankets and that’s where she gets her name Cozy from.
This went on for some 15 to 20 days but the doctor said that she was too weak and wouldn’t be able to survive like this. So I and my friend convinced our families, who were a bit reluctant in the beginning to keep the dog. I and Srishti would keep her on alternate days, but as Cozy started growing up, she started having adjustment issues, so I adopted her permanently.
Both our families love her and are super attached to her. Srishti and her family keep coming to visit her. It’s been more than two years and Cozy is the youngest daughter of my family now. She sleeps between my parents taking up most of the bed. She is healthy, active and the most beautiful dog. The kids in my colony love her and she is super friendly. Adopting was the best decision I could’ve ever made. All fur babies are amazing and they all deserve love and a home.
Kandarp and his five dogs: I have five dogs, out of which one is male and four of them are female. My girlfriend went to Sai Jeev Ashram and got a puppy who according to the people there had fractured himself after an accident and was unable to run or walk. Her heart was set on him and she got him despite the fact that we would have to put in a lot of efforts. We named him Gusto. He is seven years old now. We took him to one Dr Rana, who told us that he had hernia and not a fracture. We treated him for it and today he is an extremely smart and intelligent dog. Dr Rana is a big supporter of adopting dogs and even gives concession to people who have adopted dogs. Then we adopted a dog from Indigree Angels Trust, a year after we got Gusto home. Her name is Florence. After that we adopted Diya from the same NGO and she is called so as she was found on Diwali night wandering the streets alone and scared. Then one day we found a lab on the streets who had been abandoned because he had this skin disease called scabies. We treated him for that and gave him up for adoption. However, before he could be adopted, Diya and the lab mated and had six litters — out of these, two were stillborn, two were males and two females. We even gave the litters up for adoption. What shocked me the most is that in India people don’t want to adopt female dogs — gender bias even in dogs! The two male litters and the lab got adopted. We kept the two female litters and named them Jiya and Katy. We are a happy family of seven. We love all our dogs and I would highly recommend adopting dogs.
Thus, you may not be able to change a dog’s past, but you can rewrite his future. Rescued animals aren’t broken. They’ve simply experienced more life than other animals. If they were human, we would call them wise. They would be the ones with tales to tell and stories to write, the ones dealt a bad hand who responded with courage. Don’t pity them. Do something. Help to rescue. Donate. Volunteer. Foster. Adopt. And be proud to have their greatness by your side.