Purebred rescues are becoming more common. They are usually small, family-run, and specific to a single breed. There are hundreds of official operations listed on the American Kennel Club’s website, and they have plenty of dogs. In the Seattle area alone, about 2,000 purebred dogs a year need new homes.
One particular group, the New Jersey Boxer Rescue, is doing great work in that state and has garnered lots of attention. It is not hard to understand why: Boxers are almost always in the top 10 lists for most popular breeds in the U.S. Boxers are fun and tough. Whether they are good guard dogs could be debated, but their role as family dogs cannot be questioned.
Barbara Borges started the group in 2003. The origins of her passion go back to the love of her own Boxer. An ex-boyfriend took their shared dog, Massimo, after the couple broke up. Years later Borges was looking online for another Boxer to adopt when she saw a memorial for Massimo. “I knew it was him immediately,” she said.
The author of the tribute had written that since Massimo was a “true New Yorker, I spread his ashes in Central Park and I wished for him that he was up in heaven eating ice cream and chasing rollerbladers and skateboarders.” Borges contacted the writer and confirmed it was the same dog. He had been surrendered, old and sick, and instead of dying in a shelter, an adoptive mother cared for him until his end.
This discovery made Borges volunteer for the Northeastern Boxer Rescue, and she saw almost immediately that New Jersey needed its own Boxer group. In the most densely populated state, dogs are surrendered regularly. “We get one-and-a-half-year-old to two-and-a-half-year-old Boxers surrendered into rescue simply because they are no longer that cute little puppy originally brought home,” she says.
Before I owned a dog I didn’t understand the ethics surrounding breeding and purchasing. I assumed that farms existed where happy dogs mated and spawned happy puppies. Then customers would arrive. People who were qualified and deserving could pick their new pet, and together, a happy family could begin.
I bought my Boxer, Satine, from a couple who were first-time breeders. And she was cheap. I got off lucky. I met her parents. She wasn’t taken from them too young. Everything played out the way it was supposed to, although I realized pretty quickly the task I had undertaken to raise a puppy. It requires an almost impossible amount of attention, and twice as much patience.
Dogs at the New Jersey Boxer Rescue are cared for by volunteers or foster parents. The dogs of the foster families are usually supplied with food by the family. Some dogs are even held by their owners until new homes can be found.
Borges hopes to have a facility one day. But for now, the surrendered Boxers of New Jersey are relying on the kindness of volunteers and supporters.
Here’s a Christmas video from the New Jersey Boxer Rescue:
More than 900 dogs have been adopted since the Rescue’s inception. Borges’ advice for future dog owners: “If you truly feel that you want a puppy, then you should contact a reputable local breeder. Do not purchase a dog that has come from a puppy mill.” However, keep in mind that there are millions of happy and healthy dogs that need to be saved at rescues and shelters nationwide.
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