“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
My parents recently adopted an 8-year-old dog from a rescue organization. Her name is Lila.
Lila isn’t your average pup. She’s been through a lot. Like many rescues, she is a bit skittish in her everyday life. My mom put it this way: Lila lives in a world of dogs. Her world is composed of dogs. A few humans happen to live in that world too and, in the past, those humans haven’t been very nice to her. She has triggers that we are still learning about and will take some getting used to, but that doesn’t mean that she is hopeless or too much work. Far from it. Dogs like Lila are the kind of dogs that people are skeptical to take on due to the amount of work that has to go into them. It’s not an easy job.
Please don’t misunderstand me: Lila is not mean or unmanageable. She’s the most gentle dogs I have ever met. If you hold a treat out to her, she will pick it up out of your hand with the softest touch. She bonds fiercely to people that she loves, but it takes her longer to trust than most dogs would. She is just afraid of many things and that fear can cause her to act differently. You can’t just run up to her and give her hugs and kisses. If you reach for her head from the front or show her the backs of your hands, she becomes afraid because of her past experiences. We don’t know exactly what those experiences were, but she attempts to show us through her reactions to various situations. You have to be considerate and understanding with a rescue. Older rescue dogs have been through a lot in their lifetimes, more than you will ever know. You can guess the types of traumas they went through based on their reactions to certain situations, but you will never fully understand or know what they went through. They can only tell you with their actions, not their words.
It’s much easier to buy a puppy at a pet store and train it yourself. It will love you unconditionally and it won’t have the kind of baggage that rescue dogs have. But old dogs need homes too, and they will learn to love you just as unconditionally. It just doesn’t come without effort. Rescue animals have been through a lot, causing them to need love and support more than ever. The purpose of adopting an animal is to give it a home and love, letting it be a part of your life just like you become a part of its life. Lila has been through a lot, and while she’s an older dog with some emotional trauma, she needed a home just as much as the dogs at the pet store down the street.
That doesn’t mean that a rescue dog is always the right option for you. Rescues are not necessarily the best choice for service animals or emotional support animals. Rescue animals have emotional baggage of their own, so it’s difficult for them to help you carry yours. But for those able to care for a rescue animal, it is a great option to consider.
The extra work that you put into a rescue dog is going to reap many benefits. Your effort and energy will go toward turning that animal’s life around and giving it the love that he or she deserved in the first place. Adopting is just as rewarding of an experience for you as it is for the animal.