What is a Rescue?
First and foremost, a rescue dog is one that needs a new home. Like people, rescue dogs come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have varying needs. Some of the rescued Rhodesian Ridgebacks come from loving homes that can no longer keep their cherished pets. Reasons include an owner who dies or must go into a nursing facility, families that are forced to make a lifestyle change, such as a move overseas or into another home where pets are not permitted, or animals that are given up due to divorce. In these instances, a complete background of the animal's health and temperament is usually available. Other Ridgebacks are given up because the owners were unprepared for the requirements of the breed or they did not spend the time to properly train their dogs. Volunteers work to ensure that prospective adoptive homes are prepared for the needs of the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed and a rescue dog.
Some of the dogs in rescue programs were obtained from animal shelters or found as homeless strays. These dogs are placed in foster homes so volunteers can evaluate their temperament and suitability for placement. As with all rescue dogs, they are also taken to a veterinarian for a health check-up and immunization.
Most of the dogs that come to rescue are adults. Puppies are rarely available for rescue. All rescue dogs are neutered or spayed before going to their new homes, and almost without exception go without AKC or other registration papers.
Is a Rescue Right for You?
Adult dogs have several positive advantages over puppies. They are finished with their teething period and most are already housebroken. Taking care of an adult dog is not nearly as time consuming as raising a puppy, which is a significant benefit for adopters who work outside the home. Also, an adult dog's temperament and personality are already developed, so you usually know in advance what you are getting.
Adult dogs will bond well with their new owners, though this may take some time. Rescue dogs frequently go through a short grieving period for their former families. They might also suffer some separation anxiety when placed in a setting that is unfamiliar to them. There are several things, however, that you can do to help them adjust. The use of a dog crate is highly advised. Though many people think of crates as a type of punishment, dogs are den animals and a crate provides it with a safe haven. Attending an obedience class with your new dog is also a good way to bond with it and give it a sense of stability. Dogs, like people, become insecure when they do not know the rules. Also, like people, they are happiest when they know they are doing the right thing. Regular praise, rewards for good behavior, and a pet and a hug go along way toward acclimating a rescue dog to its new home.