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Attitudes to Rescue Dogs

(52 Posts)
RedwingWinter Mon 11-Jul-11 20:25:07

I adopted a dog from a rescue just over a month ago, and one thing that has surprised me is some other people's attitudes to rescue dogs. Lots of people tell me I am brave, as if he must have problems. That's not so bad, but some people have been half-way through patting the dog, saying how lovely he is, and then when I say he is a rescue dog they recoil as if they think he is some kind of psycho-dog. They've already seen that he is beautifully behaved!

I won't deny that we had to teach him a few manners, such as not to pull on the leash, and that it took him a little while to settle in. But it's been a pleasure to see the transformation in him as he's realized that this is his home now. That is really rewarding. And after all, if we'd have got a puppy (from rescue or elsewhere), we would have had to teach it a few things, like not peeing in the house, that this dog already knew.

I think this attitude shows that some people don't understand how dogs end up in rescue. There are lots of reasons, many of them no fault of the dog (e.g. it was a stray, the owner fell on hard times like divorce or illness, etc). I also think it shows that people don't realize how much influence they have on a dog's behaviour.

Has anyone else with a rescue dog been finding this? It is probably old-hat to lots of you, but as a new dog owner, it's surprised me to see how many people have this attitude.

MotherJack Mon 11-Jul-11 21:06:13

NOTHING surprises me wrt some peoples attitudes to dogs as a whole, let alone rescues! smile I know what you are saying though - so many people say "oh no, I would never get a rescue as you don't know their background/temperament". Good rescues assess the dogs and will only place suitably. I suppose in the "old days" you went to the pound and picked a pot luck dog up though so it's possibly a hangover from that.

I'm taking rescue OldLady to meet another rescue old lady on Wednesday, kicked out in her retirement just like OldLady was btw. OldLady is the sweetest thing. She has her quirks and particulars but I have got to know them, just like you would with any other dog.

Where I live, we are the Only Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the Village wink I think that most people upon asking what breed she is are just flabbergasted that they have met a Staffy that hasn't automatically attacked their dog or child in my case, in all honesty. The rescue aspect becomes a sideline grin

DogsBestFriend Mon 11-Jul-11 21:08:46

Ohhhhh yes!

I'm an independent network rescuer, I also help "hands on" at a rescue and of course my own 3 dogs are rescue pooches.

I get sick to death of explaining that not all rescue dogs are strays without histories and that even those who were will be stringently assessed by any decent rescue and will come with a lifetime's support, that not all are adult dogs, not all are dogs with issues.... and that Staffies are perfectly nice dogs just like any other.

MNers on here may just possibly be a bit sick of me repeating it too! grin

The problem is as you say - the number of people who have no idea about rescue dogs is shocking and if we don't disabuse people of their mistaken impressions of rescue and challenge their prejudices change will never happen.

So, come on then, what type of pooch do you have, how old is he, pictures please! smile

Empusa Mon 11-Jul-11 21:10:36

I've never actually had that experience, though most people don't get close to our boy. If they are walking a dog, he doesn't exactly show off his winning personality confused

Scuttlebutter Mon 11-Jul-11 21:18:02

In a sense, you are actually changing lots of minds simply by being out with your lovely rescue dog, especially if he/she is well behaved and sociable. We found this doing our KC classes with one of our greyhounds - it was great that the other people in the class (and the other dogs) were able to see his lovely temperament, asked lots of questions and were hugely impressed by the fact he brought his own sheepskin to class every week and promptly lay down on it, in best regal sighthound style. grin
Attitudes are slowly changing and while there are some people who will never be persuaded, you've got the satisfaction of knowing you've done a good thing by giving a dog a second chance who would probably be dead by now otherwise.

Ironically, many pedigree dogs do end up in rescue, they are certainly not all Heinz 57 mongrels (although we had these growing up and they were wonderful). I know several people who do things like agility, flyball and obedience and generally their whole team/club will have rescues. And sadly there are many pedigree dogs churned out by puppy farmers and BYBs who are prone to terrible health and behavioural issues, just as much (if not more) than rescue dogs.

Why not just say proudly "This is my lovely dog Bert" ? And then if someone is interested, they can ask more about his background. We also found that some family members were a bit nervous to start with around our greys (the boys are such big dogs) but are now really besotted.

stleger Mon 11-Jul-11 21:20:10

Most of ddog's gang are rescue dogs smile. Those who aren't seem to have as many quirks and foibles as the rescue lads. But I do find a lot of people think rescue dogs are mad, bad and dangeous! My main problem is ddog loos like a teddy, and small children try to hug him a lot.

hephaestus Mon 11-Jul-11 21:25:20

I agree that people often mistakenly assume that rescue dogs have something wrong with them. In my experience most are in rescue because of the failings of their humans, not through any fault of their own.

One of mine is a rescue dog and I have his complete life history, the rescue went out of their way to match him to us and vice versa, he has no issues whatsoever and has slotted into our pack like he's always been there. Typical story, his owners split up and he was being left alone for very long periods. Thankfully they had the good sense to send him to a breed specific rescue who did a great job of fostering and assessing him before he came to us.

A friend of mine did have a bad experience with a rescue dog - it bit a regular visitor and had very destructive separation anxiety, despite the rescue saying otherwise - but this was from a large UK-wide charity organisation who keep dogs in kennels. I'd like to see more dogs fostered in a home environment so they can be assessed properly in day to day situations.

MotherJack Mon 11-Jul-11 21:40:00

I NEVER get tired of you saying that Staffies are nice dogs, just like any other, DBF wink

RedwingWinter Mon 11-Jul-11 21:46:39

DBF, I will go off and figure out how to post a photo! He is a husky/malamute cross. He was actually a stray, so we don't have a history for him. They thought he was about 4 years old when they picked him up but that's gradually been revised down. I usually tell people he's about 2 now, though he has grown a little since we got him so maybe even younger. Not a puppy though.

Scuttle, I don't normally tell people he is a rescue until they start asking questions like 'where did you get him from?'. And then it's a surprise that some people react so negatively.

MJ, a "pot luck dog" does sound a bit risky. Knowing that a rescue will give support to work through problems, and take a dog back as a last resort, gives peace of mind.

Empusa and Stleger, good on you for your dogs too.

Hephaestus, I think you are right about fostering. Not just from the dog's perspective, but also for a potential adopter - it's much better to have info about what a dog is like in a house, instead of just how it behaves in a kennel. Also I think it means they can give a better, more personal description of a dog on the website which is great for someone looking for a dog to adopt.

DooinMeCleanin Mon 11-Jul-11 21:52:25

I always point out that my better behaved ones are rescues. We don't talk about the Devil Dog, he is not the best advertisement blush, although in fairness to rescues he is a 'pot luck pound dog' not a rescue. My foster Grey is awesome and brilliantly behaved and very friendly.

stleger Mon 11-Jul-11 21:57:16

We were supposed to be getting a greyhound - we took dd2,aged 11, to choose one - hence ending up with a whippet/teddy. I am 'mentioning' greyhounds a lot to dh...grin. The staffies i know are a soppy lot, even the ones with hard looking owners, and I know a rottie who is being very 'well trained' as opposed to most of my friends who cross their fingers whn giving commands!

Scuttlebutter Mon 11-Jul-11 21:57:57

Redwing, that's really sad that you've encountered that attitude. Bet he is really handsome, given his breed type. Yes, we want pics!

Def agree about fostering - it's difficult for many rescues to find enough foster homes though. sad But yes, fostered dogs are always much easier to rehome, partly because for instance website writeups can be so much detailed and can include things like pics of dog on sofa, dog in garden, dog on bed blush and can say things like " Bert is a happy snoodle doodle who likes nothing better than chilling out on the sofa watching Dr Who after a happy day with his foster carers knitting bedsocks " rather than " Bert is a snoodle doodle who is aged aobut 5" which is pretty much all you can say when they are in kennels. The pics help too in that by seeing pics of dog in a home environment, potential adopters find it much easier to picture dog in their home, rather than looking at a pic of a dog usually standing on a yard, or in an exercise paddock, or even worse, still in a cage. I am sure this subliminally suggests a prison and all the associated negative connotations.

MotherJack Mon 11-Jul-11 21:58:01

hee hee - I did actually type "just ask Dooin" after the bit about pot luck dogs but deleted it. Hello Dooin grin.
(Dooin is a dog's angel btw RedwingWinter)

hephaestus Mon 11-Jul-11 21:59:47

Mine are all huskies, Redwing. smile His fosterer had a bit of a cry when she handed him over, gave me a full shopping bag of his favourite toys and chews and made me promise to keep in touch with lots of photos - things that would probably never happen if he'd come from a big kennel environment.

chickchickchicken Mon 11-Jul-11 22:02:11

i am amazed when people say we have children so we want a puppy/we have a cat so we must have a puppy/we already have a dog so we are getting a pup so that they will get on..........why??? if you want to know a dog's temperament then get an adult rescue dog. the dog will already have been assessed if from a reputable rescue. there is no guarantee what pup will turn out like, you only have to look on breed rescue sites to see pups from 6mths plus who are being rehomed because they chase the cat etc despite being in that home from 8wks old

i havent had any negative comments in rl about my dogs being rescue, but have had a few comments about their breed

MJ - grin at Only Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the Village

RedwingWinter Mon 11-Jul-11 22:07:07

Okay, I've attempted to post a photo under my profile (I hope it's worked!).

RedwingWinter Mon 11-Jul-11 22:10:23

Dooin is one of the people who advised me to keep an open mind about breed when looking for a dog. She was right and I think I've ended up with the perfect dog smile

Scuttlebutter Mon 11-Jul-11 22:12:11

Heph, I still cry in the car on hte way home every time we see one of our ex foster dogs. That dog still has an enormous place in my heart and although she is in a wonderful home now (we all meet up for walks regularly) I still think about her every day. Although we've fostered others, she was very special.

chickchickchicken Mon 11-Jul-11 22:14:41

cant access your profile. have you made it public?

RedwingWinter Mon 11-Jul-11 22:15:30

Oops. Just gone and made it public.

chickchickchicken Mon 11-Jul-11 22:18:37

omg gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous

RedwingWinter Mon 11-Jul-11 22:22:45

Aw Heph, what a great fosterer. It must be so hard for fosterers to say goodbye to a dog - but so great to know they've helped it find a good home.

RedwingWinter Mon 11-Jul-11 22:23:48

why thank you chicken smile He is a real head-turner - people come over to talk to him and completely ignore me.

chickchickchicken Mon 11-Jul-11 22:26:17

haha yes i can tell you all about the greyhound we met on holiday but i dont even know the owner's name

when i take my little jrt to the shops i swear it takes me longer to get round the shop than when i had a baby grin

2T2T Mon 11-Jul-11 22:38:14

tbh- Iwouldn't consider a puppy having lurked on MN dogs bit for a while. I cannot wait to adopt a rescue. Thye are barely out of puppyhood themselves a lot of them. Well done you

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