How to Rescue a Bichon Friseby Judith Willson
Dogs of every breed lose their homes, and the bichon frise is no exception -- in fact, often the more popular a dog becomes, the more neglected or homeless ones there are. To avoid indirectly encouraging the breeding of yet more unwanted dogs, consider giving a home to a bichon frise that's in a rescue shelter. In the United States, rescue operations that specialize in bichons or small breeds in general exist in most areas. If you haven't already, examine your lifestyle and know what you want in a dog so you can be relatively sure the bichon is perfect for you. Because the temperaments of individual bichon frises vary, especially among rescues, it is worth analyzing available rescue bichons in some depth before deciding on which animal to bring home.
Note the details of your lifestyle, your family setup, the members' working hours, your home and what you are looking for in a dog. Important factors include the ages and personalities of your children and other pets, whether you live in an apartment or a house with a yard, whether you might employ dog walkers on a regular basis -- because some individual dogs take better to new people than others -- and your work commitments. Consider whether you are looking for a pure-bred bichon, perhaps even with papers, or a crossbreed. Also, note whether your situation is suited to a particularly demanding rescue -- for example a puppy, an elderly dog or a dog with physical or psychological problems. This information is helpful when you discuss adoption with operators of rescue centers.
Gather a list of bichon frise rescues, small-breed rescues and general rescue centers within a reasonable distance from your home, noting phone numbers and opening hours. You'll find much of the information you need online -- search for 'bichon frise rescue' or 'small dog rescue' plus the name of your state or county. It is worth contacting the Bichon Frise Club, whose rescue branch has a handy online search function; and contact a local vet or dog groomer for more suggestions. One rescue center should know of others.
Contact the centers to discuss the bichon frises in need of homes and your situation. You might not be able to find a well-matched bichon frise immediately, unless you are prepared to travel a long distance. Although a popular breed, the bichon frise is not as popular as certain other small breeds. Be prepared for a wait before you can create a short list of dogs and arrange visits.
Prepare for the new pet. Bichon frises need much the same in the way of accessories as other small breeds, including a bed, a dog harness and leash, dry food for small breeds, water and food bowls, a coat (if winters are cold), a poop scoop and bags, chews, toys and grooming tools. Because their coats grow continually, they need regular clipping; this is a good time to locate a professional dog groomer as well as a vet.
Visit the bichons on your short list, ideally taking along other members of your family, including pets, to see how they interact. Although this breed is generally friendly to people, other dogs and other animals, individual bichons obviously have different personalities. When you have decided on a dog, ask the rescue operator whether the dog is up to date on vaccinations, whether the dog needs to be fixed, about any ongoing health issues and about the dog's current diet. The rescue facility should be able to provide advice on settling the bichon frise into your home.
Keep your home as peaceful as possible for the first week or so, and don’t allow members of your family to play too energetically with the new dog. She might be playful and friendly, but she still needs time to settle in.
Feed your rescued bichon frise on the same diet as that provided by the rescue center, gradually phasing in your preferred brand or type of food over a couple of weeks. This helps prevent digestive problems.
Arrange a veterinary visit as soon as possible. Your new bichon will definitely need a checkup, and you might need to organize vaccinations and spaying or neutering.
Items You Will Need
- Notepad and pen
- Dog harness and leash
- Dry food for small breeds
- Food and water bowls
- Dog coat
- Pooper scooper and bags
- Grooming tools
- Being of water spaniel descent, bichons don’t exactly shed; the dead hairs in a bichon’s coat tend to remain there. This might be an advantage if you suffer from allergies but necessitates frequent brushing -- two or three times a week, or perhaps daily, depending on how long the dog's coat is at the time.
- Be realistic about your schedule and whether you have enough time for a particular breed of dog or indeed even a dog at all. The bichon frise is small enough to live in an apartment, but it needs plenty of grooming and, of course, multiple daily walks. Young, elderly, special-needs and abused dogs need a lot of time, patience and attention, and may not be appropriate for somebody with a busy life.
- Bichon image by Olive from Fotolia.com