You will never hear me referring to my dog Ace as a “rescue.”
I don’t see him that way. I don’t see any of my pets that way. I see them as “adopted.”
I understand many of you view your own animals as rescues, and that’s OK. It’s just not a word that sits well with me because it dwells on a dog’s past rather than the present. If you know dogs, then you know they have an incredible ability to move on and live in the moment. We humans do not always have that same gift.
For example, a man called me last week to see if I would be able to walk his two Lab mixes while he and his family went on vacation.
I’d have the neighbor kid do it, but my dogs are rescues, he said. You know how rescues are. They need someone with experience.
No, I didn’t know that’s how “rescues” are, but of course I didn’t say that.
It seems to me this term “rescue” is used as a bit of an excuse for our dogs’ inappropriate behaviors at times.
I truly do not think of my dog as a “rescue,” so I’ve never used that label as an excuse for his behavior – and he misbehaves plenty.
When Ace was a year old, I was the first person to take him for a walk, and he was terrible – pulling and choking himself on his chain collar.
I remember a man walked by us at Gooseberry Park with a smaller dog, and Ace was very much out of control.
“Yikes” was all the man said. Not because my dog was aggressive, but because he was pulling so hard.
I felt bad about my dog’s poor manners.
So, I worked on it, and Ace and I progressed quickly – thanks to a dog backpack, a gentle Leader and a prong collar. He passed his Canine Good Citizen test six months later, a test where the dog must successfully do things like ignore an approaching dog and keep to himself in a crowd.
[quote_right]”My dog is a lot of things, but my dog is not rescued.”[/quote_right]So, my dog is a “good citizen.” A role model. A friend.
My dog is a lot of things, but my dog is not rescued.
Labeling him that way would be unfair. His life was not that difficult before I had him, just different.
Many people assume that because my dog is black and “mixed” he must also be “rescued.” He’s not.
“Bless you,” a woman said to me at a community dog event. All I’d said was that Ace was a “Lab mix.”
Sure, some of us have literally rescued animals. We’ve pulled them from the streets or from high-kill shelters.
I picked up three cats from the pound, marched them right from their cages to my car and took them home. This was when cats had a 50/50 shot of making it out of that pound alive. There are few feelings as great as saving an animal in that way.
But when I think of those cats today, I don’t think of them as “rescued.”
Ninja, Nikita and Rita are all living lavish lives with friends and family of mine now. Never missing a meal. Lounging around on beds. Running the house, I’m sure of it.
Dwelling on “rescued” does not seem appropriate or accurate.
My own cat Beamer was adopted from a humane society, and he is by no means a “rescue” either.
He survived winter nights outside in Moorhead, Minn., by hunkering down in window wells or by whoring himself out to the neighborhood cat lady.
He did not have to be outside; it is what he wanted.
Beamer had a boneyard under the deck where he drug most of his “kills.” He came inside when he wanted to, on his terms. Then left.
Today Beamer is kept indoors, and he remains a lover, a hunter, a fighter and a snuggler.
He has scuffed-up ears and a scar by his eye.
Rescued? Not a chance.
Do you consider your animals “rescued” animals?
*Photo of Ace taken by Tawna W.
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