Why I Will Always Choose to Rescue Dogs

Three of the best decisions that my family has ever made were the decisions to rescue our three beagles: Bella, Willy, and Rocky.

A few years back, my brother was struggling a lot living on his own and he came to the conclusion that he wanted to adopt a dog. When the adoption of the dog he had set his sights on fell through, my grandma encouraged him to look for a dog at the local pound. For a while, he thought she was crazy; there was no way he was going to find his perfect dog at the pound, but he decided to humor my grandma and check it out.

There, amongst a few dozen untrained strays, was Bella—a beautiful blue tick hound and beagle mix whose owner had dropped her off a few days earlier because his job required him to travel more than one with a dog could. And that day was the start of a new chapter in all our lives. 

Bella is the perfect companion for Kyle--they’re basically an old married couple at this point. She’s sassy more than not, cuddly when she wants to be, and hungry always. I do believe the greatest love affair to ever exist is the one between Bella and our pantry at home, but that’s a story for another time.

After seeing the amazing bond formed between my brother and his beagle, my dad decided that he couldn’t hold back from adopting a dog any longer. He set his sights on the website Homeless Hounds and got to searching, only to come across our itty-bitty beagle, Rocky, who we adopted on February 16th, 2014. 

Rocky had been looked at by four other families at that point, but still remained without a place to call home. He was tiny (definitely malnourished), skittish (probably from all that time he was left as a stray on the streets in Kentucky), and is left with only a little nub for a tail. Though we don’t know exactly how he lost the rest of his tail, it definitely wasn’t taken off intentionally—it has a pretty jagged end. Some vets suggested to us that maybe it got caught in a car door when he was being trained for hunting and he just wasn’t fast enough to get out of the way in time.

Thinking about how much Rocky must have struggled on the streets always gives me this overwhelming sense of sadness. Yes, he’s scrappy—he’d eat only field mice if he needed to, but there must have been nights when he was cold and incredibly scared. He also has an aversion to anyone with long hair and glasses—if he’s sleeping and you get too close with glasses on, he freaks out and growls. Afterwards, when he realizes that it’s you, someone that he loves, he’ll cry because he’s scared and because he’s sorry. It makes me think that someone with long hair and glasses must have been so cruel to him when he was a puppy.

Despite his fear and skittishness upon entering our house for the first time, Rocky really quickly made himself right at home. His favorite person is my dad—I don’t know who is more obsessed with whom. However, the fact that Rocky can emotionally attach to a person in that way after his rough start on the streets, has solidified how proud my parents and I are to have adopted Rocky and made him part of our family.

Rocky is a notorious blanket rat—stealing all of our house’s blankets for himself and never giving them back.

He’s our #1 defender. No squirrel shall pass (until it gets so close to the window that Rocky forgets how to bark).

He lives for Kraft Singles cheese slices and if you give him one, you’ll be his favorite person for the 15 seconds it takes him to finish it. 

But above all, he’s the source of so much joy for my family. He’s our nugget (or as I call him, Nug) and I can’t even remember what we did with all of our free time before he was ours.

And then there’s Willy. Oh, Willy, the absolute sweetest dog that you could ever meet. While Bella and Rocky are in tune with their hunting instincts, Willy, a beagle and basset hound mix, couldn’t be further from the definition of a hunting dog.

We welcomed Willy into our home the summer after we got Rocky, because Kyle couldn’t resist the idea of having another companion. But when we got Willy, he had heartworm. He stayed with my parents and I for three months while he recovered from his illness before he moved up to Wisconsin to live with my brother. During that time the steroids had made him puffy and exhausted and he was a totally different dog than he is now. The poor little guy had been brought in off the streets just in time for the vets to save him from the heartworm that was affecting him, so he was really lucky.

Imagining Willy out on the streets is nearly impossible—I don’t know how a dog so trusting of everyone would scavenge for food and defend himself against whatever came his way. He’s so trusting that he’ll even let you put your arms all the way around him and squeeze him—which is something that would send most dogs into a panic.

He has the prettiest eyes and the softest fur of any dog I’ve ever met and is absolutely desperate for your undivided attention. Trying to give Rocky some belly scratches? Nope, Willy will make his way in between you and Rocky so he can get all the love. If you’re not doing anything with your arms (and even if you are) he’ll come up to you and shove his head under your hand so you’ll pet him. He even does that to my mom when she’s working on her laptop—which leaves her less than thrilled. Still, when I even think about Willy, I smile. He’s such a dork, but is the definition of man’s best friend.

After all this, I will never again buy a dog from a pet store. The honor of being part of Rocky’s forever home and the joy of seeing my brother bonding with his two beagles at our farm is one the greatest rewards I’ve ever experienced.

My rescue dogs appreciate love more than either of my two store-bought dogs from when I was younger ever did. I think I speak for my whole family when I say that our rescue dogs rescued us and have taught us so much about loving animals wholeheartedly and the value of giving a home to the ones who did not have one.

Above all, I cannot explain to you the value of rescuing dogs and giving them their forever homes.