Monday, January 12, 2009

Who will be the First Dog? A variety of rescue options.

President-elect Obama announced this weekend that the choice for First Dog is now between a Labradoodle and a Portuguese Water Dog. Here at Happy Dog Land, we're rooting for the Portie in honor of Billy's dog Zeke and his previous Portie pooch Gabriel.

Regardless of the Obama family's choice, we hope that they rescue their new pooch and set an example for the rest of the world. After all, the eyes of the world are upon our new President, and his doggy decisions will mean a lot to millions of dogs across the country and around the world.

If you want to rescue a dog, you're not limited to traditional animal shelters and rescues, although they're a good place to start. Nowadays, many shelters (even city pounds) have purebred and designer dogs waiting for a new home as a result of the economic crisis.

If, like the Obamas, you want a specific breed, start with Petfinder which is a clearinghouse for over 12,000 shelters, rescues, veterinarians and private people helping dogs in need. Jill adopted Shadow, her purebred Miniature Poodle, from Small Dog Adoption in Plantation, FL after finding him through a breed specific search on Petfinder.

In addition, there are loads of breed specific rescues, that can help direct you to reputable breeders who have retired show dogs and other dogs that are not up to show dog snuff. Although not in a shelter, these breeder rejects are in need of good homes too and, of course, make wonderful pets. Billy rescued Arthur from a breeder who had retired him from the show ring. Before Billy, Arthur spent the first 15 months of his life in a cage with his hair wrapped in plastic and slathered with gobs of coat conditioner. Once he earned his championship, Arthur was retired. He's much happier now that he sleeps in Billy's bed and is a full-fledged member of the family. Billy also rescued Zeke from a breeder. Zeke is a carrier for a congenital disease that breeders are trying to remove from the Portie gene pool, so he was of no use as as stud or show dog. Lucky for Zeke, Billy didn't care about Zeke's genes and it was love at first sight.

Many good Samaritans, animal hospitals and doggy businesses take in strays and help them find homes too. The possibilities for rescue and adoption are endless.

If you are buying your dog, it's buyer beware. Never buy a dog from a puppy mill or pet store. Last year the Oprah Winfrey Show publicized the horrors of puppy mills. Just because a pet store is "fancy," the owners are "nice," or the little tiny puppies are cute, doesn't mean that they're not supporting the deplorable puppy mill industry. Some breeders are merely puppy mills in disguise. Learn how to avoid supporting puppy mills and recognize responsible breeders.

Photos by Michael Vistia, Vistia Designs

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