We very strongly support rescuing a dog and think the world of the people who spend their time, open their homes and see things that people do to animals that might cause many of us to become cynical. We are so grateful that we spend our days with people who love their dogs and are good to them. However, before falling in love with a face, remember this is a lifetime commitment and take the time to make sure your home and environment are appropriate for the dog’s personality so your life together is what it should be, amazing!
Think long and hard about what your dog will need to put up with on a daily basis. I live by a school and with my work schedule, my break is often during the time school is letting out for the day. I wanted and needed to know if Gavin likes kids. I asked the rescue and they were not 100% sure so they let me walk him around their neighborhood so I can assess for myself. Rescues do so much for the animals they save but they do not always know every single thing there is to know about a dog. Given that they spend their days caring for the animals, transporting them, raising money, meeting adopters and I’m sure a million other tasks; I would not expect them to. Any parent out there willing to offer up your child to your local rescue to verify each dog who walks through their door is not child aggressive? I am guessing no. If your dog MUST LOVE KIDS, take accountability and ask how many kids he or she has met and if the dog is excited, wiggly or running away.
It was not a deal breaker if Gavin was afraid of kids but it would have been a VERY different start to our life together if he was not ecstatic about hundreds of children passing him at least once daily. I would have planned different walk times for him to have a better chance at learning kids are not so scary and I would have rewarded him for not running away; and I would have NEVER forced him to say hello if he was hiding behind me. These are important things to consider BEFORE your first walk with a new dog.
No one wins in the blame game. So often I hear, “well the rescue told me he was good with other dogs.” A dog living with four other dogs who have been taught or naturally have appropriate social skills is completely different than passing 100 dogs yanking on their leashes towards you and your dog every single walk; four times daily. Again, the rescue may not know how well your potential new pooch will do on a walk in YOUR neighborhood. Consider the amount of dogs your potential rescue sees on walks in their foster home and how many he or she will encounter in your neighborhood. It is much easier to plan ahead. If there are a lot of unknowns; start easy with your new pooch and give him plenty of space until you get to know him or her better rather than put another dog on the street in a scary position after your dog lunges, growls or bark at them.
The dog you come home with may not be the dog he or she truly is. Imagine if you were plucked from your cozy couch and thrown into jail, where people were screaming and banging on bars. Would you be yourself? For the first three months Gavin was with me, I was very diligent about how I gave him bones, how close we were when I was eating and watched his face like a hawk every time he met a dog and human. Why? Because I know that the more comfortable a dog feels in their home, the more their personalities blossom and you start to see who they really are. This does not mean if he tensed when I passed him chewing on a bone that I would have taken him back to the rescue. Goodness no, but I would not poke and prod him when he was eating either. New developments, new plan.
Rescue dogs, please and thank you. I am thankful EVERY SINGLE DAY that I rescued Gavin, he’s one of the sweetest dogs I have ever met. This does not mean I dislike puppies or good breeders either. But, I do often hear that folks choose a puppy because they don’t want the baggage of a rescued dog. Well, a puppy is not a blank slate. And, the little butterballs are peeing, pooping, chewing machines who not only need lots of work to learn where and when to do those things but extensive and appropriate socialization so they are lovely members of society. And, it is your role to make sure all of that happens early and often. Good for you if you rescue a puppy! But, puppies are constantly evolving so keep your eye on new behaviors and create new training plans when surprises happen; and they will.
If the dog you fall in love with online is already spoken for, don’t give up! I can not tell you how many times I contacted a rescue and I was told the adoption process was pending with another family. Some people might be upset by this but it made me happy because I knew there are sadly, always SO many other dogs who need a good home and I liked knowing other people were rescuing dogs. If the one you want was adopted, I’m sure you will fall in love with another lovely dog, keep at it.
My Finn was a rescue but he truly fell in my lap. This was my first time formally going through the adoption process and I have to share that my experiences with Alive Rescue and Chicagoland Lab Rescue were absolutely top notch. When my dream of having a giant back yard comes true, I will be in touch with both of them because the care they took in making sure my home was safe and I would provide the love and life every dog deserves means they truly want to assure a FOREVER home for each and every dog they save.