Our special bond with our rescues

My wife and I dropped by a local adoption event Saturday afternoon and struck up a conversation with another person who was there to see the dogs and cats.

She began telling us about how some of her rescues came to live with her family. Rescuers love telling this sort of family tale, as much as they enjoy talking about the accomplishments of their children.

Soon, she was offering her observations on the looks of appreciation her dogs give to her and spoke of how special rescue dogs are. It is a common theme. In fact, it is amazing how many people offer this same perspective on rescue, in noting these pets are special and the bond we have with them is special.

And rescue dogs seem to know what their rescuers have done for them.

I’ve had this conversation so many times over recent years, with random individuals, that I think we can state with some degree of scientific certainly that there is something to this rescued-rescuer connection. After all, there are no memos going out to the general public in my home city, telling people what to say about rescue dogs when they happen to run into the animal-column guy.

And my personal experiences with some 16 rescue dogs over the last 15-plus years yields similar conclusions. Recent research is studying this human-dog connection, from its roots in our domestication of wolves to the breeding-induced evolution that has produced the variety of breeds we see today.

These studies are uncovering a theory that our bond with dogs allows them to read our emotions. Is it such a stretch then to think they can feel a sense of appreciation? I don’t think its a stretch at all.

Of course, none of this is suggesting dogs or cats have to be rescues in order to share a special bond with their human family members. I’m not saying that at all.

But in my view, rescuing homeless pets is one of the most compassionate of acts of kindness we can engage in. And the grateful pets seem to agree.

I’m wondering if any readers of the blog have had similar experiences with the rescue-rescuer bond. If so, please share them here with your comments.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by D Gary Grady on April 11, 2010 at 12:58 am

    Years ago I knew a talented artist in Newport News Virginia who had rescued several dogs, most or all of whom had been mistreated in some way. These dogs were obviously grateful and very protective of him.


  2. Posted by Kathy Lewis on September 23, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I have managed a rescue for over 8 years now, and I’ve seen this over and over. I am convinced that rescued dogs make VERY devoted pets. If not for being appreciative, how do you explain the fact that nearly every rescuer tells the same tale? I hear back from so many of our adopters that they have owned rescued and non-rescued pets and while they have had very close bonds with both, they feel confident that their rescued pet seemed grateful.


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