Is Adopting a Rescue Dog Right for You?

She wakes me in the morning and is better than an alarm clock.

She reminds me when she hasn’t had her morning snack.

She lets me know when the Amazon driver has stopped.

She always cleans her plate at dinner time.

She is very polite and always says “please.”

She hangs out in the office with me as I write.

She enjoys sitting on the patio and feeling the breeze.

She loves ice cream, soccer, and walking through the snow.

She snores louder than my husband.

She is often referred to as the “third child.

She is a dog. And our rescue.

We had researched getting a rescue dog for over a year. Along with our two young (at the time) boys, we would visit PetSmart and other adoption events to get an idea of what dog would be best. It was decided we should get a female, and preferably a German Shepherd (although we were open).

During another visit to the San Antonio Human Society’s website, we found “Bebe.” She was 8 weeks old and looked like a German Shepherd. My husband made the 90-minute trip the next day to take a look.

He was told that “Bebe” was a German Shepherd mix puppy and the only one in a litter of all-black Lab mix puppies. (Not sure how that works.) My husband texted me this photo:

To which I texted back:


And he did. This adorable fluff ball was supposed to be ours.

Once home, Bebe was renamed Zoey by a majority vote of the family.  

Adopting a dog can make your current family complete, as it did ours. A rescue can be a constant companion and sidekick. October is Adopt a Dog month, and this time of awareness sheds light on the fact that many dogs in shelters are still waiting for their forever home.

Since 1981, American Humane,has celebrated “Adopt-a-Dog Month®” each October to help the estimated 3-4 million animals waiting in shelters every year get the loving, forever homes that they deserve.” (website)

The ASPCA estimates that 3.1 million dogs enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide annually. And while 2 million dogs are adopted each year, that leaves many who are still waiting for adoption – or euthanization.

The History of Animal Welfare

The focus on animal welfare began in Britain, and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was founded in the 1820s. This mission was started in the United States as the ASPCA in 1866 by diplomat and philanthropist Henry Burgh.

Caroline Earle White, an activist who witnessed the inhumane treatment of carriage horses on Philadelphia streets as a child, also wanted to do something about animal welfare. She arranged a meeting in 1866 with Bergh to seek his advice for starting a Philadelphia chapter of the SPCA. With his support and local funding, the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded in June 1868. Since women were not given leadership roles at the time, Mr. S. Morris Waln was elected president, with White not receiving any elected position for her hard work. She then created the Women’s Humane Society in 1869, America’s First Animal Shelter. Still at work in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, they serve “the pets and the people in the Greater Philadelphia region, while advocating for the welfare of animals throughout our great country and beyond.” (website) The Caroline Earle White Veterinary Hospital is not a part of their organization.   

If You Want to Adopt a Rescue

If you are ready to bring a rescue into your home, do your homework, as we did when looking for Zoey.

Would a puppy, adult, or senior dog be best? For instance, puppies need time, patience, and training. An adult dog could come house-trained. Seniors can be a companion for someone who has a slower lifestyle.  

We researched all types of breeds before we started checking shelters and rescue websites. Many dogs are mixed breeds in shelters, but knowing the traits of the dominant breed is important to know what works best for your family.  

The idea of a German Shepherd attracted us because of the breed’s trainability, intelligence, and loyalty. Their athleticism would match well to two growing boys. A larger breed would make me feel safe when I was home alone.

When you are ready to begin looking, use a website like Petfinder to locate dogs at shelters and rescues near you. This website offers much more information than just available adoptees. Petfinder also provides information for volunteering and fostering dogs, plus a Checklist for New Adopters, to plan what is needed to make that transition as smooth as possible.

Even if you would love to adopt but are unable to because of living arrangements or other circumstances, there are other ways to become involved, like volunteering at a shelter or holding a food drive in your community for a local rescue or shelter.

Even if you are not a pet owner, you can make an impact by donating items through Chewy Gives Back. Use their search to find a shelter or rescue. On each group page, look at their wish list and make a purchase right on the website that will be donated.

PetSmart Charities work to connect people with pets. They support pet families through programs that work to make veterinary care more accessible, help battle food insecurity, and provide disaster response. They also offer a variety of other ways to give.

Zoey is now eight years old and has been the best dog we could ask for. Though she is in the senior category, she has great energy, playfulness, and is as smart as a whip. She wasn’t exactly what we expected, but she is certainly what we needed! Boy, did we get lucky when we got Zoey!

In fact, Zoey is so cute, she has her own Instagram account where I post videos and photos of her antics and sweetness.

For more information, read “How to Choose the Right Shelter Dog for You” in Modern Dog Magazine. 


This post was originally published on my blog at Muses of a Mom but republished here with additional information.


3 responses to “Is Adopting a Rescue Dog Right for You?”

  1. Hello Angie, it's like you and the universe are trying to give me a huge sign it's time to start looking for a dog to adopt. Currently, my living situation does not support a dog, but it is always a great time to begin the process as you suggested, or find some places close that I can donate my resources to help. I appreciate you sharing Zoe's adoption story. Sending lots of love and virtual hugs. Jaime

  2. What a beautiful story and so inspiring to adopt. I currently have no pets because I don't have the time to dedicate to them, but so glad there are people like you who do!

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