When You Try to Adopt/Rescue a Dog But the Universe is Against You

I am actually writing this with a bit of a heavy heart or at the very least, mixed emotions.  

I'm going to start with the end and circle back to the beginning.  Today we adopted a puppy from a house breeder.  She is an English Creme Golden Retriever.  Her name is Biscuit, she's 12 weeks old and she's adorable.  

Why is my heart heavy you might be wondering?

Because buying from a breeder goes against every grain of my being.  I am so pro rescue that it actually breaks my heart that I had to buy from a breeder instead of being able to rescue a dog in need.

Now you might be wondering why I "had to" buy from a breeder and this is where I will circle back to the beginning.

If you aren't familiar with my story about our shepherd/pit mix, Frisbee you can read a little about it on the website home page or you can CLICK HERE after you read this post to read his whole story.  I wrote an 8 part blog series sharing our journey with Frisbee and his fear aggression.

Basically, we rescued Frisbee when he was 6 months old and about 2 years later he showed signs of fear aggression.  These signs included biting.  I won't go into all the details here but you can read more in the blog series. 

While Frisbee seems to be doing well, we just can't trust him 100%.  That wouldn't be responsible of us.  At the same time, I've wanted for quite some time to get a doggy companion for him but my husband wasn't on board.  We had a shih tzu, Macie, but she passed a year ago.  And while Frisbee and Macie didn't really play together I believe Frisbee still enjoyed just having her around.

So how did I end up with a puppy today?

We just spent two weeks in Italy and Greece and while we were there my husband, Peter, out of nowhere said he was ready to get a buddy for Frisbee.  You didn't have to tell me twice.  By the end of that day, I had already filled out an application at a Labrador Rescue in our home city.

Peter had a friend with a Lab who was so gentle and easy going so he really wanted a Lab.  It was super important to us that we find a dog with a mellow disposition, friendly to people and small children (for our future grandchildren) and of course, dog-friendly.  We just felt a Lab, or even a Golden Retriever would be our best bet. 

When we returned from our trip I was like a maniac looking online at different Lab and Golden Retriever rescues and filled out several applications.  I also looked at Animal Control and the Humane Society.  The big thing for me is I was hoping to get a rescue that was being fostered so we could know as much information as possible about the dog we might adopt.

You see if you've ever experienced having a dog with any type of aggression you get what I am saying.  If you haven't, consider yourself lucky and be kind to those of us who deal with this every day, day in and day out.  

We knew it might be a challenge finding the right dog and we also knew there was no guarantee how Frisbee would receive the potential intrusion.  But it was time for us to give it a good, honest try.  Heck, if it were up to me I'd have ten dogs...wait did I say 10?  How about 100 dogs.

The next step was having a home visit with the first rescue we applied at.  A very nice lady came to the house to check out our home, us and Frisbee.  I had Frisbee in a muzzle, lying on his floor pillow and he did great.  He didn't fuss or bark or really show any interest in the lady.  

We chatted for a bit and I showed her our yard.  During our chat I was pretty honest about our journey with Frisbee.  I honestly feel we've been super responsible pet owners with all the measures we've taken with Frisbee and I thought she would respect that.  I also thought she would respect that we had already made arrangements, at our expense, to have our trainer present during any meet and greets just to access the body language and the interaction etc and to help us make the right decisions.  We agreed to do multiple meetings before taking a dog permanently.  

Later that day I sent pictures of Frisbee with Macie before she passed and with other dogs he's subjected to when he is with the trainer while we are out of town.  I shared with them a few dogs I thought would be a good fit for us and then I waited.

A couple days later I receive a call from the lady who visited our home and she said that while she thought I was great and that we had done a great job with Frisbee to set him up for success, the "board" met and they decided they couldn't let us adopt one of their dogs.  

She said that they were concerned their dog would learn negative behaviors from Frisbee or what happens if in two months it wasn't working out and they didn't want their dog to get hurt, blah blah blah.  

I listened and honestly when she was done it took a moment for me to gather my thoughts.  Once I did I told her that I was very disappointed and a bit surprised by their decision.  I told her I was honest with them and we were and would be responsible dog owners and we had nothing but endless love to give a dog.  Keep in mind also I work from home so I am home most of the time...a little bonus.  

She said she was sorry and that was that. 

Meanwhile, I had applied with another rescue but this time I offered less information on my application.  They didn't ask, so I didn't offer (let's leave it at that).  I did mention Frisbee was a shepherd/pit mix.  

That same day I get an email from the second rescue saying they don't adopt out their dogs to families with pit or pit mix dogs and they were sorry.

Okay, so now my blood is boiling.  I sit down and compose an email to the first rescue and let them know that I am sorry that they chose to focus on the negative and I was sorry that now another dog will continue to sit in a shelter and possibly face death.  I said they needed to stop looking for perfect homes and be happy with good homes.  

In fact, one of the dogs we expressed interest in was a stray picked up in Southern California and put in a kill shelter.  She was pulled by the rescue from the kill shelter.  Do they really think that anything I would have offered this poor dog would not have been a million times better than what she knew? And unfortunately, there are hundreds and thousands of dogs just like her sitting in kill shelters awaiting their fate.  Maybe if the rescue would focus more on good new homes they would be able to save more dogs. 

I also pointed out to her that they had at least a couple dogs available that had been adopted out but were returned for some lame excuse or another.  Where was the guarantee there that everything would be rosy and good forever?

Let's face it.  There is no guarantee.  And that's also what's nice about the rescue organizations.  They not only want you to contact them if you need to give up the dog but it's in their contract that you do so.  This is also what made this a great option for us because we didn't really know how Frisbee would react to a new dog and it was comforting to us to know that if it didn't work out we had a good option.

Now on to the second equally ignorant rescue.  I responded to their email in a similar fashion but started with "SHAME ON YOU".  How could they themselves, as a rescue organization, discriminate against an entire breed of dog.  I told them they knew nothing about us, our home or about Frisbee and for them to make a decision like that was shameful and a disgrace.  I ended that email about the same letting them know that their ignorance likely has resulted in more dogs being killed in shelters...SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!!!

As you might imagine at this point I am feeling pretty frustrated and disheartened.  You see, I love dogs just about as much as I love anything and you would be hard-pressed to find someone who loves dogs more than me.  I couldn't believe that I was having so much trouble trying to rescue a dog.

With a heavy heart I was just about to hit the internet again when I got a call from Frisbee's trainer.  "Blue" happened to be in the neighborhood and wanted to stop by to say hi to Frisbee.  His timing was perfect because I needed a pep talk.

We talked for a while and I told him what happened and he was surprised also.  He loves Frisbee and he was bummed people were acting so harsh towards him.

Ironically, Blue had a dog with him that he's been training so I asked to meet him.  Then I asked Blue if we could bring that dog into the house because I wanted to see what Frisbee's reaction would be.  So we did.  Frisbee was pretty much disinterested.  He let the dog sniff him but he had no interest in sniffing back.  They walked around each other and that was about it.  I felt good about that little meet and greet and it gave me hope.

As we talked more, Blue mentioned getting a puppy.  We talked about that for a while and I had to really let that sink in.  I wasn't sure I was up for the challenge of a puppy, but then again, why not?  I'm home.  I have the time so why not?  

Well, here's why not.

My first thought was to get a puppy I would have to "buy" one and that is so against every fiber of my being.  

But then again, the Humane Society has puppies, right?  Or maybe another rescue with puppies. 

I said goodbye to Blue and his problem child and hit the internet once again.  Unfortunately, the Humane Society didn't have any right options for us so I started looking up Lab and Golden Retriever puppies for sale.

And this is where the story takes a twist I would never have expected.

After about 7 hours on the computer and feeling like I was looking at the same dogs over and over again, I came across one named Angel on a puppy find site.  Something about her eyes and her face stopped me in my tracks.  

I contacted her owner along with two other owners and scheduled to meet all three the following morning (happens to be today in real time).  We went to see Angel first and somehow I just knew she would be the one.

We walked in and this sweet little puppy was so calm and friendly my heart melted.  She sat in Peter's lap and just laid her chin on his chest and looked up at him.  I think that pretty much closed the deal.  

We stayed for about 20 minutes engaging with her and talking to her owner and I asked Peter if he wanted to go see the other two sets of puppies.  Much to my surprise (or maybe not) he simply said, "why?"

About 15 minutes later we were driving home with Angel, now named Biscuit, on my lap.  Funny thing is Peter told me before we left the house that we weren't getting a dog today.  Funny how fate steps in.

But here is where the mixed emotions set in for me.  While I think Biscuit is the cutest thing ever and I already am madly in love with her, my heart aches for a dog sitting in the shelter that I wasn't able to help.  I found it hard to even be on Facebook today because my newsfeed always has stories about dogs in need.  

You might say I am feeling more than just a little guilty but I am trying not to be too hard on myself.  Our situation is different and I have to respect that.  We aren't in a position to just go to a shelter and pull any dog out.  I can't afford to stretch out the journey I've been on with Frisbee by adding another dog with problems.  And like I said, if you have gone through this, God Bless You and I feel for you and if you haven't then you may not totally understand how hard it's been and that's okay too.

I did make a promise to myself that when Frisbee is no longer with us and it's time to bring another furry friend home I will go to a shelter and get the least pretty, 3 legged, one-eyed dog I can find and bring him/her home.  That's the kind of dog I want to rescue and will rescue someday.  

If you're wondering how Frisbee and Biscuit are doing, here are a couple videos of their first day together.  Click here to watch the video compilation.

So far so good although I am not sure if Frisbee knows what to think of the little intruder.  But just as we hoped for, Biscuit is very friendly and doing her best to become his buddy so I am sure over time that will happen. 

I also think that getting a puppy was a good choice as a puppy isn't trying to dominate or be bossy so that's probably better for Frisbee.  I am guessing he still wants to be the "pack leader" and seems Biscuit will be fine with that. 

And a little disclaimer here.  I am, in no way, trying to come down on rescue organizations.  God Bless the people who volunteer and who foster and everyone involved.  My experience was not great and I think both rescues made dumb decisions.  My hope would be that a rescue reads this and perhaps looks at their own evaluation process and loosen up the reins a bit.  The more dogs they can get into good homes, not necessarily perfect homes, the more they can save from shelters and possible euthanasia.  

 If you got value from this post, please leave a comment below.  And be kind about the path we ended up taking.  It wasn't my first choice or even my second choice but it was a viable option under our circumstances and we wanted to get a buddy for Frisbee.

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Stay tuned for updates on the adventures of Frisbee and Biscuit.


  • I tried to adopt a Golden from several rescues in Michigan, no luck. I looked for 2 years and finally found a 2 year old golden not a shelter but from a private home who had rescued him. She told me that a dog rescue had been calling an basically harassing her about the fee for the shots and things she had taken care of for the dog. That was 7 years ago and my fur baby is the love of my life. My heart broke for the Golden’s on their site. They were still there after 2 years. My time wAs a yard not fenced. Even though I walk my dogs everyday on a rail trail near my house and I was retired. If I want another dog someday I will go to county animal shelter.

  • I can totally relate to your experience! I was very put off by the rescue sites (and didn’t even make the home visit stage because no fenced in yard, never mind We safely raised an 80 pound husky to old age). We are the happy “parents “ of Thelma and Louise black labs we purchased from a wonderful breeder. I too, hope the rescue sites lighten up

  • Biscuit is adorable!! Good luck with Frisbee and Biscuit, I bet they will be best buddies in no time! Dont feel bad, you did your best trying to rescue a dog, but like you said, it seems like everything was against you, which is so sad. But Biscuit needed a loving home and now she has one! Enjoy!

    Gabi Love

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