ADOPTING A RESCUE DOG WITH ‘PROBLEMS’

The homing profile picture that melted our hearts with Pearl

Why do so many rescue dogs get overlooked in kennels?

I find it heart-breaking to see so many rescued dogs in need of loving and committed forever homes that get overlooked for one reason or another.

Every pet most definitely deserves to have a family of its own, to be loved and cherished, so each one that gets the opportunity is incredibly lucky. However, there are numerous issues that can go against a dog when it is waiting to be adopted and these will lead to a longer stay in kennels and a lengthier wait for a happy ending.

Tyler said please pic me!

Pretty, well behaved, young, healthy and particular breeds often seem to get snapped up quickly, which is completely understandable as not everyone is in a position to be able to take on anything else.

But when you look at why certain pooches simply don’t get the chances it can be anything from the simplest to the most complicated of reasons, including:

  • *  Size (usually too big)
    *  Breed (possibly a bad reputation)
  • *  Colour (considered boring)
  • *  History (something has previously happened that may be off putting)
  • *  Health (an existing condition)
  • *  Appearance (maybe scruffy, a deformity or ‘odd’ looking)
  • *  Age (too old)
  • *  Behaviour (challenging)
  • *  Length of stay (people may think a long stay dog is still there for a reason)
  • *  Reactivity (reactions to a situation/environment)

This list can go on and on, and as you can imagine probably endless.

At Dogs with Probs we would encourage anybody looking to take on a dog from a rescue centre to be open minded and look at all options, but please be sure to:

  • *  Do your research on each rescue centre and look at their reputation, make sure they are legitimate and registered.
  • *  Check the rescue centre adequately assesses their dogs.
  • *  Ask lots of questions about any dogs you are interested in, including any known history, health, behaviour, likes and dislikes.
  • *  Be aware that a dog may come across differently in a kennel environment to that of a home – the two are very different.
  • *  Identify what it is that you are looking for in a dog and if there is any flexibility.
  • *  Carefully consider your own circumstances and what kind of life you are able to offer a dog.
  • *  Spend time with the dogs and learn about them from the dogs themselves.
  • *  Make sure the rescue centre offers continual personal back up support for after a dog is adopted.
  • *  Research the breeds and any typical behaviour, traits and potential health issues.
  • *  Think about what ‘problems’ you may be able to take on from a dog and how you can help them.
  • *  Look at support groups and professionals that can open up possibilities.
  • *  Speak to the centre staff and find out which dogs are most in need of adoption – are you able to step in for a dog needing a home sooner rather than later?
  • *  Do not allow yourself to be put under any pressure by the staff at the centre, you need to make your own choice, take your time and be confident with your decision for the sake of yourself and the dog.
  • *  Ask the centre staff to allow you to spend time with dogs in different environments ie street walking, with men and women, indoors, outdoors, around other dogs etc to see for yourself any behavioural changes – a good rescue centre will offer flexibility and want you to be satisfied with what you see and feel to avoid any repercussions ie a dog being returned to the kennels.
  • *  Ask yourself if you really need a perfect pooch or are you able to adopt one that isn’t quite spot on and help it through life with a little extra understanding, patience, and commitment?

I know from personal experience that I have always found a certain level of self-satisfaction in adopting dogs that have got issues and feeling that I have played a part in helping them overcome so much to become that much more confident and happier in themselves. The proud mummy in me steps in and I glow at my babies with complete admiration that they have been through hell, but now could not wish for more and give so much in return. It brings tears to my eyes to see them playing, enjoying the sun, trashing their toys and even curled up in cosy beds fast asleep, feeling safe and very much loved. Basically, I am a soppy mare!

If I can play the slightest part in helping others to give a ‘problem’ dog a home by educating, providing support and encouragement to be open minded then I will have fulfilled my dreams.

I would never persuade or push someone into making a commitment they are not fully comfortable with and cannot guarantee successful results, but what I can promise is that no-one is ever alone, there is always support available for both the dog and the dog owner.

Before I finish, please remember there is always the possibility that you adopt a dog that you believe to be perfect and everything you wish for yet develops or reveals unexpected problems. Should this be the case, if you are able to do so, please stand by your dog, seek professional advice and don’t give up.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

Someone once said to me that rescue dogs are problem dogs and should be avoided. Saying that to me was probably not their best move! Over the years I have had three ex racing greyhounds from kennels, an American Bulldog from rescue and now, Tyler, another American Bulldog from rescue. Each of these pooches have had their own issues and behavioural problems, but all five have become the best companions and made me the proudest mum ever.

Personally, I prefer to take on dogs that need that an extra special someone to understand them. Not only do I find it very rewarding to help them to enjoy life more, but they give you so much in return.

Strangely, I have never had to choose a dog, they have always found me one way or another, but when we lost our last old lady, Pearl, we knew she would want us to help another they way we did her. Pearl was an American Bulldog that had been used as a puppy machine, neglected , starved, beaten and then dumped on the streets to fend for herself. The dog wardens picked her up and took her to safety. She sat in the kennels for several months, overlooked due to her breed, size, slobber, strength etc. During her abusive history she had sadly gained several phobias, but over the seven and a half years that we had her she become more confident and was the most loving and comical dog you could ever have.

pearl cropped
Our beloved Pearl

Pearl totally hooked us on the breed and knowing how they can be hard to rehome, a little while after her loss we jumped on the internet and started googling American Bulldogs in rescue and up popped Tyler.

tyler garden
Tyler posing for the camera

Tyler had been in the centre for six months. No-one had reserved him due to various reasons. He had had a number of homes and some behavioural problems, is over 8 years old, has a health condition, was big, strong and excitable. On meeting him he came across as a nutter on steroids, but living in kennels with limited attention can make a dog appear to be something they are not. We met him a few times before he came home, we were instantly besotted with him, he took to us very quickly and we could see him calming down and becoming more used to our company.

His dad collected him and brought him home, he came straight into the house and seemed to know this was where he was meant to be. In the weeks we have had him he has settled, learnt his routine, accepted he’s not allowed to eat the budgies, calmed down and become a snoozing teddy bear, taken to a number of squishy beds, rewritten the house rules and trained us well!

He really isn’t what we expected to be dealing with, the majority of his ‘issues’ are not apparent, and it is almost as if they gave us the wrong dog.

The only obvious problem Tyler does portray is a fear of being beaten in certain circumstances, which breaks our hearts, but he is slowly learning that this will never happen and we can see visible improvement in his trust day by day.

Pearl and Tyler have inspired us to do what we can to help other dogs in rescue centres that are struggling to find their forever homes.

When we were searching through the rescue centres it was very sad to see the number of dogs that do have problems that go against them with being rehomed. I use the word ‘problems’ very loosely as it covers a multitude of things including, age, breed, colour, behaviour, health, size, breed, looks and so on. There may even be no obvious reason, other than bad luck.

It is great to see any dog rehomed or reserved, but the puppies come and go, the pretty and easy ones come and go, and too often those that are overlooked because of ‘something’ end up with a longer stay in kennels than they should have.

Admittedly, committing to a dog with problems is not possible for everybody and we would certainly not pressure or persuade anyone into doing so, but with Totally Dog Network we very much want to educate and help people understand that just because a dog does have some baggage doesn’t make it a right off. If anything, the love and commitment they need can be given back tenfold in more ways than you can imagine.

Stay with us and follow our blog to learn with us as we develop Tyler’s training, follow his antics and help teach others that dogs with problems are not to be avoided. Join our community of dog lovers with the same passion and help us achieve our goals.