Rescue? Adopt? Buy? What do we do?

Posted by [email protected] on April 3, 2012 at 3:10 AM

We have been trying to adopt another Nova Scotia Duck Toller like Bo. It does not have to be a purebred—but we're trying to find a female under 3 years old to be Bo's companion. This is not an easy task.


First, the Duck Toller is a hard dog to find. Breeders get top dollars for them and rightfully so. They are a breed that has not been "overbred", they have few health issues, and they are a great size and a wonderful family dog as well as a great gun dog. Nevertheless, we want to rescue—to adopt—to help to give a home to a dog that needs a second chance.


The SPCA's seem to be overrun with Pit Bull mixes. This happens to be a breed I don’t want. I want a softer looking retriever. Rarely have we found any dogs that even resemble Tollers. Therefore, we are searching Rescue Groups. There are a few kinds of rescue groups—those that are breed specific—and those that are not. There is a national Duck Toller Rescue Group and they get over 200 applications a year and rescue only about 10 dogs a year! We are on their list.


The non-breed specific rescue groups (and we are searching nationally, not just locally) are some of the most difficult people to work with. No because they want to be. However, they are typically made up of volunteers that foster dogs until a home can be found. The volunteers are typically available only by email and they typically won't answer an email until you fill out their application online. Here's how the process has gone for us time and time again:

1. We see a dog on, or some such sight. It interests us.

2. I fill out a lengthy application online giving total strangers much more personal information than I prefer. In the application, I tell them which dog interests me.

3. I hit the submit button for the form. Nine out of ten times, I receive no email confirmation that my form was received. Occasionally, I get an error message saying that no storage space is left on the server to save my app (then what?).

4. Days pass. I hear nothing.

5. I email the rescue group again - "did you receive my app?" "I am very interested in this dog" and so forth.

6. On average, a week later, I hear from about 70% of the rescue groups. Too many times the response has been "That dog has been adopted".

7. And with all of this angst and frustration the average rescue group wants close to $400 to adopt. That’s after after your app and references have been approved, and after a home visit.

I honestly do fully support rescue groups. I’m not saying that $400.00 is too much money for their efforts. They are saving dogs, paying vet bills, feeding and housing and transporting the animals. But they don't make it easy to adopt a dog! I can walk into an SPCA today and walk out with a dog. My problem is I want a particular type of dog. Although I’ve been pretty open to dogs that “look” like Tollers. After all, it’s rare that one really knows the lineage of a resuced dog.

Some groups even require that you have a fenced in yard. It doesn't matter to them if you have a fenced in yard at work and you can take your dog to work. It doesn’t matter to them if you want t adopt a pocketbook dog that you’d never let out in the yard alone, they want a fenced in yard. Nor does it matter to them that I’ve taken a dog like Bo from a frightened, abused (and shot) animal to a Certified Canine Good Citizen and Therapy dog. I don’t have a fenced in yard.

I voiced my frustration to my neighbor this afternoon. Told her how I really want to adopt again, to "do the right thing". She revealed she'd been through this process herself looking for a Golden Retriever and in the end, determined that it was faster, more efficient, and most cost-effective to go right to a breeder. At least she knew what she was getting and that the dogs health had a limited guarantee.

I don’t know what the answer is for the rescue groups They are what they are and they do a fantastic service by saving the lives of deserving animals. But I could have bought a Toller puppy months ago instead of spending months looking to adopt one. Doing the "right thing" isn't always easy, is it? Does anyone have a female Duck Toller available for adoption? I’m going to continue to try. I want to get a dog for Bo before he gets too old to care to play with one!

Categories: Pet Adoption, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Rescued Dogs

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Reply Christine T.
9:22 PM on April 3, 2012 
That is really tough. Nathan Winograd wrote a great book called "Redemption" part of it talks about how animal rescue groups go overboard on screening applicants. A fenced yard as a prerequisite is a joke, most people use theirs to justify not taking their dog out for real walks anyway! I randomly ended up with a toller totally by accident, the shelter had him listed as a saluki :) Try doing searches for "small golden" "red aussie" "red collie" and see what pictures come up. The toller rescue also has a great document that shows a bunch of dogs that are ALL tollers so there is a lot of breed variation, presumably because they are bred for the ability to toll or lure, not just for looks like many breeds. Good luck!!!
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