So you’ve read the books and have decided on a dog breed.
Or maybe not. Maybe you want to rescue one of the many mixes available through one of the several shelters in West Michigan. Maybe it will be a purebred, maybe not. You don’t really care. You just want to give a dog a second (or third or tenth) chance. Good for you. We did that for our Duke and have never regretted it. Keep in mind that dogs surrendered to shelters frequently have behavioral or medical issues you will need time and patience to deal with. They can range from the elderly dog with a heart condition to the pit bull mix (fun fact: very few dogs labeled as such are actually American Pit Bull Terriers) who has aggression issues (perhaps abused) and will need extensive retraining but can and will turn into a responsible canine citizen. Later on I can blog about where and how to find a trainer but for now GRPL does, indeed have you covered.
Maybe you want a purebred dog but still want to help a wayward dog find a forever home. Consider purebred dog rescue! This one starts with the internet. Almost all national and local dog clubs dedicated to a single breed have a rescue section on their website, explaining in detail what they require from their applicants and the joy and pitfalls of rescue. Keep in mind here that these dogs were rarely bred by responsible breeders or a club member (as a responsible breeder will always take back a dog they bred). These animals usually come from puppy mills or backyard breeders but don’t hold that against them! With a breed club you’ll get advice from people who have experience and knowledge with the breed. People you can turn to with any questions or concerns you have about your dog.
Of course, you can always go to the American Kennel Club or the United Kennel Club and find your breed link to get the information for the national club for that breed. Start with the national or regional club and you will be put in touch with a breeder who will quiz you, regard you with suspicion, and make you fill out a lengthy application. They may even have you sign a sales contract! They will also have done all the necessary health testing required for their breed (hips, eyes, heart, elbows, etc.) and have proof of these tests in the form of paperwork. They will give you referrals. Will it cost more money than a puppy mill? You bet. But you will get a healthy, happy dog that comes with a person dedicated to that dog’s well being through out its whole life. And that’s worth every penny. Just look at Aldas and Ben (mother and son) below.