By Dr. Becker
Owners of rescue pets belong to a special club. They know what it means to be a homeless animal’s hero.
People who welcome a shelter pet into their lives often feel that their pet rescued them instead of the other way around.
Rescue pets are typically thriving after several weeks or months in their new homes, leaving the stress of shelter life behind.
8 Things Owners of Rescue Pets Know for Sure
Our rescue pets rescue us
Many people who adopt shelter animals often say, “I rescued him, but he really rescued me.”
We provide our adopted pets with a forever home, and we try our best to help them feel cared for, safe, and loved for the rest of their lives.
What we receive in return is a lightness of being, unanticipated moments of pure joy, and unconditional love of a kind we’ve never known.
They seem to know we rescued them
Another thing adoptive pet parents often say is, “It’s like she knows I saved her life.”
Many previously homeless pets display what can only be described as endless gratitude to the person who rescued them. We become “theirs” – the center of their universe – and they don’t want us out of their sight.
Many of these pets, even breeds and breed mixes not known for their trainability, seem to want above all else to please us and be our ideal animal companion.
They blossom under our care
Shelter pets typically arrive at their new forever homes stressed out, grubby, and often sore or in pain from a recent surgery or injury.
After a few months of species-appropriate meals, regular brushing and bathing, proper veterinary care, and a consistent daily routine that includes plenty of exercise, playtime, and TLC, the positive change we see in our rescue pets is incredibly gratifying.
It’s fun to learn their lineage
Most shelter dogs are a mixture of breeds, and even dogs presumed to be purebred may not be.
Many owners of rescues ultimately decide to do doggy DNA tests to learn which breeds are predominant in their pet’s lineage. This information can be useful in understanding more about your dog’s temperament and behavior.
A shelter in California has begun doing the tests on some of their dogs to increase adoption rates. The shelter uses the DNA results to create cute “designer” breed names for a "Who's Your Daddy?" adoption campaign.
They have hidden talents
Many shelter pets have tremendous untapped potential.
For example, a shy scaredy cat who lives under the bed for the first several weeks in her new home might, with the right encouragement, blossom into a social butterfly or a loving lap cat.
And then there’s the story of Gertie and Winnie, two homeless dogs on the kill list at a shelter in Ireland who were rescued and went on to win agility competition honors in the famous Crufts Dog Show in the UK.
Older rescues make wonderful companions
Senior pets are often overlooked by potential adopters, which is sad because many of these animals wind up in shelters after losing the only family they’ve ever known.
The wonderful people who have it in their heart to rescue an older animal talk about how happy they are to be able to give their pet a wonderful life in their senior years.
And like so many rescues, senior pets in particular seem grateful to their adopters for loving and providing for them.
They keep us in shape physically and emotionally
Rescuing a shelter pet enriches our lives in ways both big and small. The unconditional love and loyalty of a dog or cat can lift depression, ease loneliness, lower blood pressure, and give us a reason to get up in the morning.
A kitty asleep in your lap feels warm and comforting. A dog that loves to walk or run outdoors can be just the incentive you need to start exercising regularly.
There are countless benefits to pet ownership, and when you know you saved your furry companion from an unpleasant fate, it makes the bond you share that much more meaningful.
They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and personalities
There are plenty of animals to choose from at most shelters. They come in every age, shape, size, coat color, and breed mix, and you can find purebreds as well.