Breed Rescue Groups: Saving Dogs in Need of Homes

You’ve fallen in love with a specific breed but aren’t sure if that breed’s characteristics and your lifestyle are a good match. Perhaps a purebred puppy is beyond your budget. Maybe you simply love your dog and want to help other dogs of his breed. These are all good reasons to check out breed rescue groups.

How Dog Breed Advocates Work
Breed rescue groups collaborate with local animal shelters, breeders and veterinarians to place homeless purebred dogs into new homes. These groups are becoming a trusted resource for people who want to adopt a specific breed, especially adult dogs. “We simplify the search process,” says Cil Henson, president of Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue in Houston.

Breed rescue groups bring a high level of knowledge and understanding about the breed into the adoption equation. Every breed has unique characteristics, which is one reason why so many purebreds need rescuing. It’s important that a breed and its owner fit well together.

“Our advice to potential adopters about a Golden Retriever’s behavior and care provides the foundation for success,” says Henson. “And, because our dogs live in foster homes with experienced Golden Retriever owners, we can make a good assessment about a specific dog’s temperament, personality and health. It helps us match each dog with a family in which everybody can thrive.”

Education Is Key
People often buy a breed from a pet store or a breeder because they like the look, but they haven’t done any research about the breed. That’s a big mistake. For example, “Siberian Huskies are absolutely adorable as puppies, but after a year or so, that cute puppy is an adult dog that is shedding gobs of fur everywhere and escaping on a regular basis,” says Robert Baker, the PR chair for Tails of the Tundra Siberian Husky Rescue in Colmar, Penn. “Huskies are easily bored, and if they’re not kept busy they will find ways to amuse themselves, including de-stuffing the sofa. That’s when we get the call saying the owner needs to re-home the dog.”

A substantial number of dogs are surrendered to rescues because owners don’t realize how to properly care for a dog or can’t handle the costs involved. Sometimes the dog is an innocent victim of a family breakup. Sometimes it’s a matter of lifestyle. Lap dogs simply won’t thrive as outdoor pets, and high-energy breeds will be unhappy if they’re cooped up in a small living space with no exercise.

Get Involved With Your Favorite Breed

If you love a breed and know a lot about it, your local breed rescue group would love your help. “Lack of enough foster homes is the main factor that limits the number of dogs we are able to help,” says Baker. “Yes, it is a lot of work, but it is also extremely rewarding when you see how happy the dog and the adopter are.” Henson agrees: “Foster homes are the heart and soul of our organization.”

Even if you can’t be a foster parent, you can volunteer your time to help with everything from office work to grooming. Most of these organizations rely heavily on financial contributions because adoption fees cover only a portion of actual foster costs, so you can get involved with fundraising too.

It’s easy to find a breed rescue group for practically any breed. The American Kennel Club has an A-to-Z list on their website, and you can type “breed rescue” into your search engine for additional organizations by breed and by state.

First Dogs: True Stories of Presidential Dogs

Our first president, George Washington, and our current commander in chief, Barack Obama, are just two of our 30 presidents who have owned dogs. Over the last 200-plus years, canines have often been in the spotlight as much as their famous “pack leaders.”

The First Presidential Dogs
Everyone knows George Washington was our first president, but did you know he was also an avid foxhunter and sportsman? He owned several hunting hounds, including seven Staghounds given to him by the Marquis de Lafayette, the French aristocrat and American Revolutionary War general. Staghounds find prey with their keen eyesight, but Washington also owned Black and Tan Coonhounds, which rely on their noses to find quarry. Although today we think of Poodles as pampered, well-groomed house pets, in Washington’s day, they were valued as agile hunting dogs. The president’s diary includes references to Pilot, a Poodle that was Washington’s waterfowl hunting partner.

The First Celebrity Presidential Dog
Warren Harding’s
Airedale Terrier was possibly the first “first dog” to be in the public eye. “Laddie Boy was the president’s constant companion and had his own chair to sit in during cabinet meetings,” says Kate Kelly, a historian who has written numerous stories about American dogs. People found the relationship between Harding and his dog captivating, says Kelly, and media coverage demonstrates that by the 20th century, dogs were family members. Indeed, Harding left a cabinet meeting the day after his inauguration in 1921 to greet his new puppy upon the dog’s arrival at the White House. “The papers reported on everything Laddie Boy did, from fetching the morning newspaper to enjoying his dog biscuit birthday cake,” says Kelly.

Kelly considers Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Fala, a Scottish Terrier, the most famous presidential dog. “He was beloved by FDR, who would sometimes delay state dinners to go into the kitchen to feed Fala himself,” she says. Fala became an integral part of FDR’s politics, as evidenced by this excerpt from a 1944 campaign speech. “Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family doesn’t resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. As soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress had concocted a story [about it costing millions of taxpayer dollars to rescue the dog from an Aleutian Islands presidential visit] his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since.” Kelly says Americans loved the speech.

Bo, the Hypoallergenic Presidential Dog
The Obamas chose to add a Portuguese Water Dog to their family because first daughters Sasha and Malia have allergies. The breed was not as well-known as Beagles, Labrador Retrievers or Springer Spaniels (Presidents Johnson, Clinton and Bush, respectively), but media coverage thrust Bo and PWDs into the mainstream. “They needed a hypoallergenic dog, and the relationship between Ted Kennedy -- who owned Portuguese Water Dogs -- and the Obamas allowed for the family to meet Bo. And the rest is history,” says Julie Parker, who bred Bo’s sire. “I think this new popularity is good for the breed because now more people are familiar with them. They’re smart and high-energy, but for the experienced dog owner who leads an active lifestyle, these are great companion dogs.” Parker says this breed expects to be part of the family and that’s where it’s happiest.

The United States From a Dog’s-eye View
Presidential dogs give us a glimpse into our country’s history from a cultural perspective. Their residency in the White House provides insights about our changing lifestyles and politics. From hunter to companion to media darling, they’ve shared our presidents’ lives and confirm we are a nation of dog lovers.

Photo: Getty Images