WHAT IS A “RESCUE” DOG?

While the term implies that such a dog has been saved from imminent danger and destruction, which in some instances is true (e.g., obtained from a pound or shelter prior to being destroyed, obtained from a puppy mill where conditions were incredibly inhumane), the term in practice is used to refer to a dog that has been obtained by any numerous means, under conditions which may have been less perilous, and which now needs a special home.

Are rescue dogs purebreds?

While in some instances rescue dogs may be pure-breds (and there may even be “papers” indicating such), some rescue dogs, while being predominately a certain breed, are “mixes.” Given the circumstances under which many rescues are obtained, there is no guarantee of any rescue being a pure-bred. Whether a dog is a rescue or not, it should be noted that the existence of registration papers does not ever absolutely guarantee that a dog is pure-bred.

Where do rescue dogs come from?

Shelters, pounds, puppy mills that have shut down or are no longer interested in a breed, strays found wondering the streets, or from individuals who can not or no longer desire to care for a dog.

Are all rescue dogs placeable?

Unfortunately, no. Because of the health and/or behavioral problems of some rescue dogs, some dogs must be euthanized after being evaluated.

What are some of the reasons that individuals voluntarily give up a Bichon?

  • Dog’s poor or deteriorating health;
  • General veterinary expenses required to maintain a dog;
  • General maintenance expenses required to maintain a dog;
  • Household composition–children do not get along with dog;
  • Change in household composition–marriage, divorce, re-marriage, new children or they grow up, death;
  • Change in lifestyle–traveling more often due to employment or personal reasons;
  • Medical reasons–development of allergies, declining health and no longer able to care for dog;
  • Behavioral problems–dog becomes aggressive or shy;
  • Time required for a companion dog–Bichons, unlike some breeds, require an extreme amount of human companionship and interaction;
  • Time and expense associated with grooming–because of the type and color of coat , a great deal of time and expense is required to maintain a Bichon;
  • Training difficulties–Because Bichons can be slow maturing, they may require more time and training to housebreak.

{Note: Some of the aforementioned problems can be attributed to where the dog was obtained from (i.e. puppy mill, broker, or “backyard breeder” where: there is indiscriminate breeding, puppies were separated from the mother and siblings too early and sold to a store or individual, there was a lack of training and care while the dog was a puppy, etc. ) and the care that the dog subsequently received.}

Is a rescue Bichon for everyone?

No. Just like owning and maintaining any dog (whether it is a Bichon or not), a “rescue” is not for everyone. If you are thinking about a rescue Bichon, you will be interviewed to determine that you have the time and ability to care for a Bichon, and in some cases be prepared to provide a “special” home. As indicated above, because of the circumstances under which they were obtained, rescue Bichons will not look like “show dog” Bichons and they could (although not always) require additional training and/or short-term or long-term health care. In some instances, it truly takes a “special” person and home for a rescue.

What should a person contemplating obtaining a rescue Bichon expect?

First, you should not expect a “perfect” Bichon. You should anticipate a spayed/neutered dog and not expect a puppy. Most rescues are not puppies. Also, in many instances, the dogs may have a very short coat (sometimes shaved) because of the coat condition when they were obtained. A short coat length is a temporary condition. Also, one should not expect a housebroken dog. It is not realistic to believe that there will be no “accidents”, even with a dog that may be housebroken, as the dog will be placed in completely new surroundings and situations.

Although there is not a 100% guarantee, one should expect a dog that will provide an immeasurable amount of gratitude and love in return for the proper care and love that it now will be given. People who have made homes for rescues have indicated their sense of an extraordinary amount of affection from the rescue which they have attributed to the dog’s awareness that someone really is able to and does care for them. If one has the time and ability to care for a rescue Bichon, one should almost assuredly expect a great sense of satisfaction and fulfillment for providing a home and helping to care for one of God’s creatures who might not otherwise have a home and could have been destroyed.

If you would like to learn more about Bichons and adoption, there are several books available on this subject.

How can a person inquire about obtaining a rescue Bichon?

Once you have researched the Bichon breed and have thoroughly contemplated whether or not you have the time and ability to care for a Bichon, you can contact one or more of the regional volunteer Rescue Representatives to inform them that you are interested in adopting a rescue Bichon.

  • You should expect to complete an application and be prepared to answer detailed questions that are not exclusive to the placing of a rescue dog, but are questions that any breeder of any dog should ask prospective owners. Some of the questions to anticipate concern: one’s reasons for obtaining a dog, the environment in which the dog will be kept (i.e., physical conditions as well as household composition), time available for the care of the dog, who will care for the dog, one’s physical and financial ability to care for the dog, etc.
  • A face-to-face interview/meeting with a rescue contact may be required.
  • You should expect to sign a written agreement which requires that the dog be properly cared for and which stipulates that if for any reason the dog can no longer be properly cared for, the dog will be returned to the rescue representative without remuneration.
  • Also, you should expect that a “donation” will be requested for the rescue. These funds are used to pay for the numerous costs associated with the volunteer rescue effort. These costs include: initial veterinary care expenses when the rescue dogs are first obtained, medication expenses, grooming expenses, spay/neuter expenses, boarding expenses, additional on-going veterinary expenses, etc.

If there does not appear to be a rescue available that would be a “good match”, you may have to wait, perhaps for as long as a few months. The concept of waiting for a rescue dog is no different than waiting for a dog from a reputable breeder. You should periodically contact the rescue contact and inform them that you are still interested in a dog. With the numerous calls that are received, it is usually not possible for rescue volunteers to keep “waiting lists” and to call back previously interested parties.

Finally, since it is the goal to only place rescue dogs where there is the “good match” between the specific needs of a dog and the home that an individual has to offer, rescue dogs are not placed on a “first come-first serve” basis. You should anticipate the possibility of not being accepted for a home for a specific rescue dog or any rescue dog. Again, these requirements are no different than what one should expect if he/she were obtaining a “show dog” or “pet” from a conscientious and reputable breeder.

As a reminder, Rescues are not puppies and they are usually male and not female.  But a male Bichon can be VERY sweet!