Is Your Dog Really Rescued or Adopted?

Kevin Roberts
by Kevin Roberts
Is “adopted” or “rescued” the correct terminology to use when referring to a dog? Kevin Roberts talks about why these terms don’t necessarily fit the situation.

Even though it happened many years ago, I still remember the first time someone asked me if my dogs were rescued dogs – my mind immediately went to the Search and Rescue dogs that go to work after an avalanche! I told them laughingly that of course that’s not what my dog were… unless, of course, a person in need was holding a Frisbee or a squeaky toy. Otherwise, my dogs would not otherwise be so motivated to dig through an avalanche to find a missing skier. The person looked at my pack of genetic mutts, looked at me, and shook their head as they walked away. Clearly I didn’t know what I was talking about.

The truth is, I didn’t.

Up until that moment, I had never heard the term “rescue dog.” I had always just had dogs. The thing is, in my life I have only had one purebred dog from a breeder. The rest have come from shelters and rescue groups. But I still don’t say I have rescue dogs. Because really, the majority of my dogs haven’t been rescued. None were found starving in the woods, none of them were hit or abused. There just aren’t any sob stories to tell.

River, my oldest pooch, was surrendered to a shelter due to divorce. The woman who had her previously loved her, and had asked for email updates once she was rehomed. She just couldn’t raise a high energy dog in an apartment. River was in the shelter for a few days before I brought her home.

Burger was born into the most amazing doggy-foster family imaginable. Right from birth, he has been loved and cuddled. They socialized him well, and laid down the groundwork for the awesome dog he has become.

Belle was a stray that went unclaimed. She has no fear. Of anything. Vacuums. Gunshots. Bears. Nothing scares her, she takes it all in stride. Everyone she meets is her friend, so long as they have food. So while her history is unknown, she didn’t seem to suffer from any trauma.

While all my dogs came from shelters or rescues, I don’t really consider any of them rescues.

I didn’t do any work to save them, and they weren’t in danger of having their time “run out” if they didn’t find a home. I filled in some paperwork, welcomed a home visit and just like that, we had another dog. No act of heroics here.

Rescued From a Shelter

It makes me squirm when people say they rescued a dog from a local group or shelter. I found my dogs in shelters or through rescue groups, but I didn’t save them from the shelter or the rescue. In some cases, it might be the case that a poorly run rescue or overcrowded shelter has animals that need rescuing, but that wasn’t the case at all. Belle was living in a literal mansion when I got her! If anything, my house was a step down from her foster family.

But to say I rescued my dogs almost seems like a slight against the people who worked to find them forever homes. People worked hard to care for them before they entered my life. I am grateful for those people and happy that they were part of the success story of my dogs.

Are Your Dogs Adopted?

My dogs aren’t rescued… does that make them adopted? As the adoptive parent of a super awesome human-kid, I am unsure about using the term for my dogs as well. I don’t consider my dogs to be my children. Some people do, and that’s great. But for me, they are dogs. Are they part of our family? Most definitely! Do I love them, and will do anything for them? You bet! I take my responsibility to my dogs seriously. Will they cost me more at the vet than it will to send a child to university? Absolutely! There’s no doubt I love my dogs, and they love me. But I don’t have a term for how we became a family, and maybe that’s okay.

Maybe how I got my dogs doesn’t matter. They are happy and well behaved. They are well exercised, stimulated and all their needs are met. I live a pretty dog-centric life. They live in the moment, happy to do whatever the family is doing, whether it be laying at my feet as I write this or jumping into the back of the truck to head off on our next adventure.

So maybe next time someone asks me if my dogs are rescue dogs, I will just tell them that they are just awesome dogs, and leave it at that.

Kevin Roberts
Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts lives for adventure. Together with his pack of rescue dogs and his husband, he spends as much time outdoors as possible. Kevin lives by the motto: "Get outside and play with your dogs!

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