After losing my best friend, a Terrier mix, when I was 12, I felt awful. I didn't know how I would ever heal. I did not want another dog at first, but I really missed having a furry friend to greet me every day when I got home from school. I decided the best thing I could do was to adopt a new dog from the shelter. I felt like my dog's early death (he was only 3 years old) could somehow be less pointless if I could save another dog's life because of it. So I convinced my parents to take me to the pound and we found the dog we wanted. They were still waiting to see if her owner would pick her up though, so we waited 2 weeks. On the last day of that 2 weeks, we headed to the pound to pick her up, and it turned out her owner's had shown up just earlier that morning! However, they told us there was another dog who was on her last day before euthanasia and asked us if we wanted her. They warned us, she would require some rehabilitation and a lot of training. My parents weren't too happy because they didn't want a dog with issues, but I was sold the minute I heard she was going to be put to sleep the very next day. I convinced them, and that day we brought home Molly!
That's when my passion for rescuing animals started. Molly is the poster dog for rescue. She was near death when the pound got to her. She was all skin and bones, her collar was embedded in her neck, she had been used to train fighting dogs. They fixed her up a bit but she was still quite thin when I got her. I remember the ride home, she sat on my lap, shaking like a leaf. Her ears were back and she had a very sad look in her eyes. She was obviously beaten, very hand-shy, and was not house-trained. She wouldn't eat in front of anyone, she had never been on stairs before, and did not enjoy being pet at all. She was aggressive toward dogs and showed fear aggression when strangers approached. Basically, she had issues.
At 12, I did not yet have the jaded outlook of an adult. My parents doubted I could retrain Molly and did not want to keep her at first. But I was so attached to her from the minute I brought her home that they gave me a chance. And with some training, time, and a LOT of love, she blossomed into the most amazing dog you could imagine. She became well-trained to the point that I could let her off the leash and she'd still listen perfectly. She became very gentle with kids, even babies, and stopped showing aggression to people and dogs. She was my constant companion through my teenage years, and I don't know how I would have lived through that time without her. We grew up together, and today you can find her snuggling on the couch with my daughter, or patiently putting up with our Pit Bull puppy's antics.
I know that a lot of people want a new, fresh puppy who has no history. But I feel that by saving Molly close to adulthood, and after a history of abuse, we did not get a lesser dog at all! In fact, she has such a deep personality. She is so sensitive to our emotions and always knows when someone needs a comforting lick on the hand. She is so well-behaved, and listens because she wants to. I feel like she does it out of gratitude and appreciation, because she knows what it's like to not have food, water, a nice place to sleep, and a family to love her. Also, by getting her as an adult, we did not have to go through the awful chewing stage, which I can tell you is no fun... Aries, our puppy, destroyed so much of our house and belongings in the first few months we had him!! (He is not a rescue pup but his owner could not keep him and he was going to the shelter if we did not adopt him.)
Next time you are thinking of welcoming a new fuzzy family member into your home, I hope you find it in your heart to rescue! Sometimes it can be more challenging, but it's all the more rewarding!!