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Advise on taking on a rescue dog.

(24 Posts)
MordechaiVanunu Wed 31-Aug-11 21:13:16

Hi, we had been planning to get a westie puppy next summer. We were going to leave it until the summer as I would then have more time to devote to house training etc.

BUT...I started to think that maybe we should consider a rescue dog and a cross breed rather then paying lots for a pedigree pup, so I started looking on dogsblog.

I have found a Jack Russell /fox terrier cross who is 2yrs old good with children and not too far from us.

dh likes then look of her so we are going to see her on saturday!!

I'm very excited but things feel they are moving quite fast from the original plan of waiting until next summer! But she is house trained so all the intensive training I was envisaging won't be needed. (house training anyway)

Am I getting carried away, and ignoring some important factors I need to consider? I want to make the right decision so help me think it through fully rather than be carried away in the excitement (we are going away in November and I'm SO excited thinking about her first holiday with us!!)

Bring me down to earth, what do I need top think about???

Scuttlebutter Wed 31-Aug-11 23:15:48

If you're seeing this dog in a reputable rescue, it won't be "choose and go" - they will expect you to have a homecheck forst, especially as there are children in the house. At the homecheck, some of the things to think about will include:- security of your house and garden, any allergies in the family, whether all adults are fully signed up to the idea, what happens when you are ill/go on holiday, if you are renting, do you have the consent of your landlord? Do you have a good vet nearby? Have you researched training classes? I'd say these are essential. Have you thought about the impact of a dog on your life? The tie, the mess, the cost. Do you understand and have budgeted for the costs - insurance is a must, along with the cost of food, vaccinations, worming and flea control, possible grooming, training, possibly kennels or dog walker, etc. All these would apply whatever dog you get.

For a terrier, take a look at the recent thread about terriers. Do you have any experience with them? You MUST be committed to training and regular exercise - they are smart, feisty and full of beans. If you don't give them plenty to do, they will make an occupation for themselves. Many terriers are keen on digging, excellent escape artists and adore chasing rabbits and squirrels. You get an awful lot of personality in a very small dog - I love that about them but it doesn't suit everyone.

Also don't forget that terriers can live well into their teens - I know a few who've made it to 17, 18 etc. and would certainly expect a healthy terrrier cross to go to 14/15. You may be at home at the moment, but what are your plans when DC are older? How will dog be looked after if you go out to work?

We had a fox terrier cross as one of our family dogs when I was growing up - he came when I was a teenager and he was one of the most honoured guests at our wedding along with our other family dog (another elderly rescue cross breed) as I didn't marry until my 30's - having the dogs there was a major issue for us - I mention this because that's the kind of passion these lovely characters inspire. I'd say if you are willing to put the work in, you will get so much back from them - you will have stories to tell, more grey hair and an awful lot of fun. grin

DooinMeCleanin Thu 01-Sep-11 08:42:56

The Devil Dog is a fox terrier/JRT X. Just advanced search all my posts and you will soon discover all my issues with him.

But do remember he is my life, my laughter, my fun and my games. He is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but he is worth every second of my time and he would lay his life down in a nano second for me or the children.

<disclaimer: this may or may not have been typed under the influence of alcohol: ask me again after Midday and I may have changed my mind wink>

MordechaiVanunu Thu 01-Sep-11 10:03:13

Ooooooh dear The Devil Dog??? That does not sound goodsad. I've serached your posts and can glean that he doesn't come when called and has to be kept on a lead??

The description of the dog we are interested in calls her 'a wonderful girl who gets on well with other dogs and children.' should I ask about what she's like when walking? I was envisaging lovely countryside walks with her gamboling around free around me.

We've had westie terriers in the past, without any issues but I've no experience of fox terriers or Jack russells.

We are visiting her on Saturday and after that if we like her/she likes us they will arrange a hone visit.

I don't want a 'difficult' dog I want a nice easy family pet. I'm prepared to go to doggie training classes, work on this at home, walk regularly etc but I don't want an ongoing 'problem' should I reconsider and look at another breed??

DrNortherner Thu 01-Sep-11 10:07:56

We have a lab who was a rescue dog. Got him at 9 months. He's now 3.

I think, importantly, we need to know why he is being rehomed? Was he abaonded/a stray/ill treated? Or is he a much loved pet who simply just needs a new home?

Ovbiously, depending on his circumstances the outcome for you could be very different!

It is very rewarding rehoming a rescue, and if there aer no major behavioural issues I say go for it.

Getting ours was the best thing EVER.

MordechaiVanunu Thu 01-Sep-11 10:56:41

She apparently belonged to an old lady who became ill and had to move in with her son.

Just spoke to the lady at the rescue centre she said that she (the dog) comes when called when out in the field with the other dogs, but we'd need to keep her on her lead initially when walking and then see how she did when let off.

I do like the idea of having a rescue dog, as does DH, but I want to make sure we get the right dog for us.

Dooinmecleanin come back and talk to me about Devil Dogs hmm.

Vallhala Thu 01-Sep-11 11:17:06

Mordechai, I'm sure that Dooin will be back in a while but meantime I can explain a bit about Devil Dog (who sounds like just MY kind of dog, just in too small a package, btw grin ).

DD is NOT a rescue dog. He was saved by Dooin from the pound, where he would otherwise have been killed for outstaying his welcome. Dooin is an experienced owner who took pity on him and effectively bought him from the pound rather than adopted him from rescue. She did a great thing, something I have done myself, but taking on a pound dog is NOT for the inexperienced or those without the support of a rescue if it all goes wrong. YOU'RE doing the right thing by going via rescue. smile

DD is a bugger cos... well, who knows? But that's no indication that the terrier you're looking at will be. Breed traits can be used as a guide but are often just not there in certain dogs. I have 2 GSDs and a Lab. GSDs, if you ask the aficionados, are very vocal, brave, protective one-person dogs. My younger one loves me as no other dog could but protective? You're joking! Brave? Never met more of a wuss! Vocal? He barks on average once every 3 or 4 months. No kidding.

My Lab, however, that nice, family friendly breed which will eat anything, is a fussy eater and protective guard-dog type who doesn't like small children.

Judge the dog, not the breed and youll not go far wrong.

Oh..... and ask Dooin for some stories about Devil Dog and the parrot. grin

MordechaiVanunu Thu 01-Sep-11 11:49:02

Thanks Vallhala, so how do we best judge the character of the dog during a visit? She may be lovely and friendly but is that any indication of behaviour issues??

What questions should we be asking? As I said they have said she is good with children and other dogs, and they seem to feel there are no particular behaviour issues presenting from being in the rescue centre, they describe her as 'a wonderful girl'.

I would hate to take and dog on and then feel regret and be thinking this is not to type of dog we wanted. I want to be as sure as I can.

I'm trying to be rationale and not get carried away (described on the website she sounds and looks perfect for us.)

2yrs old and house trained so no endless puppy toilet training to do, good with children (ours are 11 and 8yrs) good with other dogs (when we go away she would stay with my mum who has 2 dogs), friendly good natured, and she is called Scruffy and looks it which dh loves, he likes that unkempt look in a dog grin.

I do love the character of terriers, they are tenacious and so full of character and personality. But have never had Jack russells or fox terriers.

I just want to make the right decision for us and the dog.

MordechaiVanunu Thu 01-Sep-11 11:53:00

Oh and what breed is a GSD??

Scuttlebutter Thu 01-Sep-11 12:08:29

OP, what I think we are all trying to say is that a terrier may well be perfect for your family, but we would want you to have a good understanding of breed characteristics, before you fall in love with this dog. If you are willing and happy to put in the effort, including training classes, training at home, exercise, and possibly activities such as flyball or agility or similar, you'll have a wonderful time. If you want a quiet, docile pooch that meanders along and gets two short walks a day round the same old route then snoozes, this dog is almost certainly not for you.

There is no absolute right or wrong dog - it very much depends on your lifestyle, your expectations and how much you are willing to put in. This isn't anything to do with the dog being a rescue - the same principles apply when you are getting a dog from any source. Having a realistic approach to how much time/effort you want to put in saves everyone a lot of heartache. For instance, masses of Border Collies end up in rescues because people seriously underestimate the amount of training/mental stimulation they need, and also don't get the herding instinct. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a low input dog if you see what I mean - I just wouldn't think of a terrier being one of those.

GSD - German Shepherd Dog

Personally, I think she sounds adorable, and since you've said you ARE willing to do classes, exercise lots etc then I think she could well be very happy with you.

Vallhala Thu 01-Sep-11 12:18:33

GSD - German Shepherd DOg. smile

Ask the centre if she's been socialised with children whilst in their care. Also how long she's been there, that will give an indication of length of time they've had to assess.

It's a tough one as sure, you don't want to be "caught out" so to speak but there ARE plenty of uncomplicated dogs out there in rescue.

Would you mind pm-ing me the name of the rescue or link to the dog if they have her online? It may help in having all the info, in order to suggest what to ask, what to look out for and so on. smile

Vallhala Thu 01-Sep-11 12:44:33

Ah! Found her on one of the websites.

The blurb sounds good, she's spayed, vaxed and chipped, that's good, though I'd be interested to ask if that's standard policy for ALL dogs before they leave this rescue (it should be).

I don't know the rescue and it doesn't give much away on its website.

What I WILL say is that when you go visit her, assuming that she's in the rescue and not in foster, don't expect RSPCA standard accommodation and don't be put off by a rough and ready appearance, if that's what you find.

The RSPCA, with £119 million in the bank and lots of new, shiny buildings, kills over a third of the dogs which come into its kennels.... the little, independent, run on a shoestring rescue which I help out at and which is familiar with the term "make do and mend", has a 100% no kill policy, regardless of time, trouble or cost to themselves and STILL carries out all the checks and assessment that the big rescues do.

MordechaiVanunu Thu 01-Sep-11 13:41:37

Oh, glad you found her! She looks a sweetie doesn't she?

They do spay, chip and vaccinate all the dogs they told me on the phone and there is £120 charge to cover some of this.

I don't think they've had her long, maybe only a few weeks, the lady on the phone said she thought she would be taken quickly. This is good as it makes me think if we decided she was not right for us I know someone will have her, she's not one of those in the home forever type dogs, where I'd feel we were her only chancesad.

I'm still very positive, but want to stay calm and rational until we've met her and asked sone more questions.

Thanks for all your help it's really useful.

minsmum Thu 01-Sep-11 13:52:28

My current rescue dog was the last breed that I thought I would ever have. She is a collie cross and I never wanted a dog cleverer than me. We have had her for 5 years now and she is the best thing that has ever happened to my family. Even my dh not a dog lover thinks that. I hope that your dog either this one or another brings your family as much joy

DooinMeCleanin Thu 01-Sep-11 14:25:13


Staying up drinking untill most people would be going to work was not one of the best ideas I have ever had! I'm a wee bit soppy in drink, no? grin Midday might have been a bit ambitious grin

The sentiment is true though. Devil Dog is my dog and I love him to bits, I don't know what I would do without him.

Val is right he is a pound dog, not a rescue dog. Devil Dog is a name given to him affectionately, but he does have issues.

Looking past his issues and to his breed traits (which may not necessarily be every JRT/FT X), he needs a scary amount of exercise, his recall is utterly unreliable and probably always will be, if he spots something to chase he can neither see nor hear me so calling him back is a waste of my breath. He is willful and determined. He is as stubborn as an Ox and will not work or obey unless there is smelly cheese in it for him.

He does also have some great points - He is as cute as button, he will play for hours, unlike my hounds who look at me like I have lost my mind if I throw them a ball, he would protect me with his life, he makes a great furry foot warmer. Now he is getting past his issues he loves a cuddle. He is super smart and could be trained to do anything, if the right treats are on hand.

Fox Terriers and JRTs are both amazingly smart and energetic dogs and both excel at things such as agility, but they are not for those who would need a laid back and lazy dog.

If Valhala says the rescue you are looking at looks above board then I am sure they've offered you her because they know she is a perfect fit to your family. Breed traits can mean nothing at times, I have a Whippet who is scared of Rabbits fgs and recalls spectacularly, every single time. She never chases anything, even if you ask her to.

I have to say though, their racing up and down my stairs at the moment is not appreciated, nor is Devil Dog's somersaulting off my walls envy <- sick face. And I am wondering why I have a bike lead on my lap when I am clearly still far too drunk to operate a bike hmm

<disclaimer - I did make arrangements for my dogs prior to last night and they have been walked this morning and spent a lovely afternoon snoring next to me in bed>

We were with the parrot last night and found hours of amusement in getting him to dance and sing along to Queen's greatest hits, something the neighbours may not have appreciated at 7am, though no-one complained and niether side work.

<wanders off glazed eyed in search of more coffee>

Vallhala Thu 01-Sep-11 14:46:17

PMSL, sounds like a great night Dooin. smile

So far I can see nothing that causes me any concern with the rescue. smile

MordechaiVanunu Thu 01-Sep-11 20:59:31

Thanks for all the advice, we are still feeling positive her, but will see how it goes Saturday whence meet her.

I'll let you knowsmile.

Scuttlebutter Thu 01-Sep-11 22:48:57

Don't forget the advice comes at a "price" - we want piccies if/when woof makes it home with you! grin

blonderedhead Sat 03-Sep-11 00:43:31

Good luck, I adopted a JRT from Battersea and he is in some ways a 'typical terrier' terror but mostly he is just his own personality. Very cuddly and affectionate, pretty good recall, random and embarrassing dislike of Golden Retrievers, waggliest and lickiest of dogs with his own special going-for-a-walk dance.

Our circumstances have changed since we got him so we've had to make adjustments but it's all been fairly natural. Same with training, it's a fun part of having a dog, not an endurance. Go and meet her, then you'll know. Fred just leaned his head against my leg and that was it.

chickchickchicken Sat 03-Sep-11 21:44:16

i have two jrts. mine are full of personality, love learning and have lots of energy. both of mine are well behaved and have come to work with me. when older jrt was young we were foster carers and she was absolutely amazing with the various children we looked after. ds has sen and she has been his best friend. younger jrt often accompanies me on trips out and people regularly remark how well behaved he is. i am always keen for people to know though that he is very well behaved as as long as there are no cats around his needs are being met - mentally and physically- as well as on going training. this applies to all dogs imo but the amount and variety of training will vary

an example - when i took younger jrt to hairdresser (for him to experience a new environment) to get my hair cut and coloured the woman next to me told me that he couldnt possibly be a jrt (he is) as he was too well behaved. i told her she wouldnt have thought that if she has seen him running wild in the woods prior to appointment.

there is no right breed but you do need to bear in mind the breed characteristics with regards to how much time and exercise you will give the dog as well as dog's age and temperament.

good luck. she sounds a good match for your home if you want a young active dog. i like the fact she is 2 and toilet trained as well!

MordechaiVanunu Sat 03-Sep-11 22:49:23

Hello All,
Well we met her, and she was very very sweet. Super affectionate with us all, licking the kids all over.

We took her for a walk and she did pull on her lead, but she did respond well to her name and sat when told too!

Apparently she is quiet when in her pen alone, not attacked her bed or destroyed anything and is friendly with all people and all the other dogs.

We said we'd think about it but I think we're going to have her!!

Dependent on the home check of course. Also we won't be able to have her for a few weeks anyway as we currently have my parents dogs staying which they're on holiday.

So new questions are:

Can you recommend training books?
Should we get a crate?( we have a utility we can keep her in when out and at night but might she feel more secure in a crate?)
should we go to classes or just train her ourselves?
Can you run with JRs? If so what's the best way to approach this?

Thanks for all help so far. V excited about this new chapter of family life approaching!!

MordechaiVanunu Sat 03-Sep-11 22:51:03

Oh and what bed and toys should we get?

chickchickchicken Sat 03-Sep-11 23:22:59

i wouldnt worry about the pulling on lead. that can be sorted easily in time. her temperament and whether you want a young active dog are more important than her level of training so far.

yes do go to classes. it isnt just about learning how to teach your dog new skills but you meeting other local dog owners (this can be invaluable for finding out about preferred vets, local sitters, new places to walk dogs, walking groups, cheapest place to buy food, etc) dog meeting other dogs, having one to one time with your dog without home distractions is lovely and really helps build the closeness between you and dog. do careful research though before choosing a class

toys will need to be tough! dont bother with cheap plastic ones. we use kongs filled with food. also wilkinsons rubber dog toys are sturdy and only cost about a £1. their plastic toys are rubbish for terriers

you will get lots of opinions for and against using a crate. i never have but i do know people who do. why dont you ask the rescue what they recommend?

yes, i used to run with my jrt. have you heard of cani x?

chickchickchicken Sat 03-Sep-11 23:26:19

quick google found this

another great thing about not having a puppy is that you can do all the fun exercise things without waiting for pup to mature smile

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