My Experience Rescuing a Puppy


I’m so glad to see so many puppy lovers here! Thank you for giving Watson such a warm welcome!

It’s been a little over a week since we’ve had Watson and it’s been an emotional roller coaster. I know a lot of you are parents and probably hate this comparison but getting a puppy does have some similarities as bringing home a baby. There’s a lot of sleepless nights, constant worrying that he’s going to get sick, and taking your eye off of him for one second could mean he can get himself into trouble. It’s exhausting because you have to teach him everything from scratch BUT it does have its rewarding moments.

Watson was a rescue, not from a breeder. Because of that, we don’t know too much about his background, other than his mom was a bloodhound mix. That said, we don’t know what she was mixed with or what breed(s) his father was. We did take him to the vet who predicted he’s probably not going to get as big as a bloodhound (thank God because bloodhounds can get up to 110 pounds which I am not sure I can handle) but he’ll definitely be at least medium sized (around 55-60 pounds). There are benefits and drawbacks about getting a dog from a rescue compared to going to a reputable breeder but the process was completely new to me so today, I wanted to talk about what going through that was like, in case there are others out there considering going the rescue route like we did.

But first, I’d like to give an update on week 1 with Watson:

Related post: Meet Watson

Pupdate: Week 1

Since night 1, Watson has been going through crate training and it’s been going great! Brian’s grown up with dogs and Watson’s my first so I don’t always know what good progress necessarily looks like but Brian assures me that Watson’s in good shape. He likes his crate and goes in there willingly. He doesn’t even go crazy when he sees it getting closed. However, once he realizes he’s in there and there are people moving around him and he can’t see what they’re doing, he starts whining, barking, and sometimes howling (like the hound that he is). He does settle down after a few minutes though and he’s shown no signs of separation anxiety at all so we’re thankful for that.

He’s also mostly potty trained. He does have pee pads in a designated spot that he (somewhat) reliably goes to which is progress.

We had one scare with him after his first vet visit. He was apparently allergic to his Distemper combo vaccine so he got quite sick afterwards but luckily he’s on the mend now. The vet said that he should be given Benadryl before he comes in for his next round of shots so we should be okay going forward.

He does not love his leash. He has shown some signs of leash reactivity and his mouthing has turned into full-on biting, especially during and after his walks. Brian and I went to puppy training class this week and the trainer taught us a few ways to deal with that so hopefully it’ll get better. He doesn’t have the strength to bite hard, but his puppy teeth are razor sharp so they do hurt. Teething puppies are no fun :(

Still, when he falls asleep and cuddles in your lap every once in a while, you can’t help but fall back in love with him!

The application process

Now, for the application process to get a puppy, I had no idea what I was in for but this was quite the learning experience. In fact, I didn’t even know there was a difference between shelter dogs and rescue dogs - that’s how new I was at the process.

Shelter vs. Rescue

So the first thing I learned was how getting a dog from a shelter was difference from getting a dog from a rescue organization. Going to a shelter is a much quicker and straightforward process. Basically, you go to a shelter, pick a dog, sign a few papers, and you’re out the door with your dog after a (small) payment.

Rescues are a bit more thorough. You fill out an application form that is usually quite long (for Watson it was about 8 pages) that asks a lot of questions. At times, I thought the questions were quite invasive at times, but appreciated as they were things you probably should be thinking about anyway (like, how much do you think you will spend on your dog per year, or what circumstance would you give up your dog and such). After submitting your application, an adoption coordinator will reach out to you (it took 5 days with us) and ask for three character references. After they heard back from our references, we got a home visit to make sure the place was good enough for a dog/we didn’t lie on the application (i.e. if your application said you have a yard with a fence, you better have a yard with a fence). Finally after all was approved, you pay a (larger) fee, sign some more paperwork, and you can pick up your new pup!

So then, why would I rescue?

Now, you may be thinking, “holy crap, that is a lot of hoops to go through for a dog!” and you’re right! I definitely thought at times that adopting this puppy was at least as much work as adopting a human child! I know that, of course it’s not, but it was a lot to go through for a puppy. In fact, you may be thinking, why go through the rescue process at all when you can just go to the shelter for a quicker, cheaper process? Well the major difference is that with a rescue, by the time you get your dog, they will be up to date on their shots, spayed/neutered (if old enough), they will be in foster care, and generally better taken care of than a dog from a shelter who may not have gone through the cleaning, deworming, vaccination, and socialization process. For some people, they may not care, but the rescue dog’s fees cover all the vet visits and health inspections and frankly, most rescues eat the extra costs that the adoption fee doesn’t cover so you’re still getting a better deal. Watson’s foster had taken in 3 other puppies from his litter so he was able to spend a lot of time with his litter mates before coming to us. The foster also ran a dog daycare/boarding business so was great with dogs. I could tell Watson was very well cared for.

I’d like to hear from you - have you rescued a dog? Have you ever had a puppy? Tell me about your experiences!