In an ideal world, all dogs would be carefully bred and placed in loving homes where they'd live long, happy lives.
In the real world, anything can happen.
Dogs, whether they're purebred or a mix of breeds, can find themselves homeless for many reasons. Most often, it's just a case of the wrong home for the right dog. People who'd vowed that they would care for their new dog for a lifetime got tired of the feeding, walking, and tending, and forgot their promise. They got fed up with behavioral problems that they themselves had caused by not properly socializing, exercising or training their dog. They may have welcomed a human infant into the family and found that they no longer had time for the dog they once called their baby. They may have fallen out of love with their dog simply because he got old or developed health problems.
Or sometimes it's a case of the right home and unforeseeable circumstances. Sometimes dog owners sadly relinquish their pets because they lost their homes, can't afford veterinary treatment or have become too infirm themselves to care for their dogs properly. Sometimes owners die without having made provisions for their dogs.
There are times when purebred dogs are simply found wandering the streets. Perhaps they were abandoned, lost or even stolen and they escaped. For whatever reason, nobody claims them.
Purebred rescues come in all ages, from all circumstances and in all conditions. Sometimes entire litters are rescued, other times ancient dogs are found who seek only a secure home in which to spend their last days. Many rescued dogs were once cherished companions who suddenly found themselves alone in the world for one reason or another. Other rescues have never lived in a house before, or known a gentle touch or kind word. Regardless of which type of rescues they are, the dogs are often apprehensive, confused and even frightened. They may cling to their foster owners or new families as though they are afraid they will lose their saviors. But with time, training and security, they gradually adapt to their new circumstances and become exceptional family companions.
Some prospective owners fear that adopting a rescue is just taking on somebody else's problems, or that rescue dogs come with emotional baggage. Such dogs are the exception, but good rescue groups evaluate every dog for possible problems and try to match each dog with an appropriate person. They may begin the adoption process by having prospective homes complete an application. Applicants may be asked to provide veterinary references, and the rescue group may schedule a phone interview or home visit. Although this might seem invasive, it's partly to provide the best match of dog and circumstance.
Most breeds have rescue groups devoted to sheltering, fostering and placing dogs of that particular breed. Those associated with popular breeds are often so inundated with dogs that they cannot shelter all that need homes. They welcome volunteers who can foster dogs until a forever home is found for them. Groups associated with less popular breeds usually have fewer dogs to choose from. They count themselves lucky.
Many rescue groups provide temperament testing, basic training and behavior consultation. Adopting from a rescue group provides new owners with a safety net should problems arise. Many groups require adoptive owners to enroll in obedience classes in order to encourage bonding, basic dog-training skills and basic manners. They also often provide opportunities to become club members, participate in various activities and rescue reunions, and even become part of the rescue team.
Rescuing a purebred lets you combine your love of a particular breed with the knowledge that you're helping a needy dog. Rescue dogs may be less expensive than puppies, but they're not free. Rescue groups need to charge a reasonable fee in order to recoup their expenses and continue to provide services. A rescue dog, purebred or mixed, is the deal of a lifetime.
To find a list of purebred rescue groups, visit the AKC's website.