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How did you know your rescue dog was right for you?

(14 Posts)
trittrot Tue 06-Nov-12 12:09:07

I’ve name changed. The rescue dog we got did not work out and had to go back into foster care. I don’t want to give too many details in case I out myself. The dog was not well matched to us and what we were able to offer. The rescue home has taken some responsibility for the mismatch. We were only able to go on the information they told us, which made the dog seem perfect for us, but it turned out to have behavioural issues that were beyond our abilities to sort out (though I would like to add that the dog was not in anyway aggressive with us and I am hopeful that in experienced hands it will be easily re-homeable in the future)

I can’t stop thinking about the dog that was fleetingly in our lives, as we had begun to bond. It’s going to take some time to consider going through this again but I know that I so want to have a dog in my life and I do not want a puppy so a rescue dog is the only option. I think I need to hear some positive stories from people who have got their beloved dog from a rescue centre. All the details… age of dog, breed of dog, history of the dog, how many times you visited before adopting it, did you walk it or was it assessed in every type of situation before you took it home, what were your experiences on getting the dog home, did it have issues that needed sorting out and did you receive support to do so? Did it come from a foster home or direct from kennels?

And has anyone had a failed adoption and gone on to adopt a rescue dog again. Will a rescue centre even consider you if you’ve been involved in a failed adoption?

LetThereBeCupcakes Tue 06-Nov-12 12:43:36

Sorry your match didn't work out, that must have been very hard for you. There's a dog behaviourist in the US (I forget her name - just finished reading her book "The Other End Of The Leash") - she says that if a dog isn't happy the most responsible thing you can do is rehome it, she once had to rehome one of her own dogs as her home wasn't right. So I'm sure you've done the right thing.

We adopted our second dog in December last year. Estimated to be about 3 years old now (2 when we got her) and a lab cross (we think probably beagle). We weren't planning on getting another dog (though had discussed it before - decided against it purely because our boy seemed happy on his own). My mum was thinking about getting a dog so we logged on to the local rescue website and there was our new dog staring back at us. I knew she was ours the second I saw her. She had been found roaming the streets four months previously, judging by her condition she had been used as a breeder in a puppy farm but had become to week to breed any more so they dumped her. She was so frightened when the RSPCA caught her she urinated all over herself and the officer. That was August 2011. She was taken to the rescue centre where her amazing carer started working with her, and in October she was adopted by a family. They took her back 2 weeks later as they couldn't cope with her problems.

We took her home 6 days after contacting the home about her, after home checks, a "mix" with our existing dog, and a session with their behaviourist. She was so scared we couldn't even get her through the back door at first. I don't think she'd ever seen stairs before and her toilet training was somewhat shakey. All of our family and friends thought we were bonkers (and told us so!). Nearly a year on and she's the most affectionate, cuddly dog I've known. She loves going to obedience classes and is almost ready to do her KC Bronze Award. She goes to daycare once a week. She still has her quirks (like a hatred of cameras), but we love her to bits.

I'm very grateful that the first family took her back, the match wasn't right, everybody was unhappy, and it meant we got our girl.

Best of luck in your search - it will happen. I would have thought any decent rescue would respect your honesty and having the good sense to admit if a match wasn't working.

WTFwasthat Tue 06-Nov-12 12:54:49

we fostered a dog for a rescue a while back with a view to adopting. he was fear aggressive ( not that we were informed) and it was a complete disaster. He bit, snarled, bared his teeth, growled lunged for everyone except my son. He really wanted to hurt us. The rescue took him back after 3 days but it put me off rescue and made me feel a failure. Then, as a result of a thread I started on MN about two weeks ago I was linked to a lab x puppy at Many Tears Rescue and 'voila!!!!' he is snoozing beside my chair now! He is gorgeous and definitely right for us. Rescues do get it wrong on occasion but they are quick to put things right. it is no ones fault. Though I felt awful about our foster pup at the time. Good luck with your search smile

KatieTrancoso Tue 06-Nov-12 12:55:47

We live in France. One day a 2 year old bitch turned up on our doorstep, a beautiful white dog about the size of a large lab, with husky/malamut markings. We didn't feed her but called the police, rescue associations etc to see if she belonged to anyone - nothing. We took her to the vet to see if she had a tattoo or a chip and she didn't. The rescue places were full and couldn't take her, so we called our local kennels for advice (we already had a dog, a Bernese MD) - they said to not feed her for 3 days, and if she was still there then we should probably begin to take care of her while trying to re-home her. 3 days later her face was still at our window, so we took her in. We almost instantly regretted it - she was totally wild, wouldn't settle, constantly running around, and chewing, and very territorial of her space - she went for me a couple of times when I tried to stroke her in her basket. We began trying to re-home her - she went to 3 different homes, but each one rejected her. As she was totally wild, she wasn't trained to walk on a lead and would run away (she's a super fast runner) the second you let her off. SHe chased our dog around and around the kitchen table, knocking things over as they went, and they fought non-stop. Then both of them came into season at the same time, combined with both of them having a big moult - absolute nightmare. I was literally pulling my hair our and calling the rescue centre every other day to see if they would take her. But slowly, slowly, things settled down. I would say it took her 2 years and lots of gentle care, love and training for her to truly settle in. Now she is adorable, and by far the easiest dog of the three (we have since added another Bernese to the pack). She is fun, intelligent, and lies on our feet while we watch tv. I think because of her time in the wild, she has been teflon-coated, and never ever gets sick. She is always the favourite of guests, to the Berneses' chagrin! Would we do it again? I'm not so sure! You never know what you're going to get when you take on a rescue dog. But then, we can now classify ourselves as 'experienced dog owners' so I think it would be easier next time. And she makes little howls when she's happy! Which is pretty adorable.

LetThereBeCupcakes Tue 06-Nov-12 13:02:04

Katie I'm in awe! I thought our girl had been hard work, but what you have achieved with yours is amazing. You must be so proud of her.

toboldlygo Tue 06-Nov-12 13:33:13

We had a two, almost three year old neutered bitch and wanted a companion for her as well as a second dog to make up a sled dog team - we'd been doing canicross, scooter and bikejoring with the one dog but I wanted to move up to a rig and the 'proper' race scene. She gets on better with male dogs so we specified a male of similar age. That was all we asked for; I am confident in my ability to deal with most niggly issues like lead manners, resource guarding, separation anxiety etc. and we have no children or anything to take into account so an unknown quantity wasn't too much of a big deal.

We were offered two male dogs, one aged three and one aged five. Both were fostered in a home with other dogs as per the rescue's policy (breed specific rescue, no central kennels, all dogs are fostered by volunteers). We spoke to the fosterers on the phone at length and they sent us photos. We discounted the very handsome older dog because the foster carer described him as quite aloof and not enjoying rough play with their other dogs - fine as a single dog or with a calmer older dog, not great for our very rough and playful young bitch. The fugly younger dog was the one for us. grin

We lived almost six hours away from the fosterer but if it's the right home for the dog they will set up a transport network to get them to the new home. As it happened the rescue had a stall at a big dog show the next county over from us just a week or two later at which she was volunteering - along with half a dozen of her own dogs she shipped him down and camped overnight in a van until we could do the two hour drive to fetch him. He had a star appearance in a demo by the rescue the day before we fetched him and received a round of applause when they announced he'd been adopted and was waiting for his new mum and dad to arrive. blush

We turned up, were handed his lead and told to go and have a walk around the showground. The dogs sniffed each other briefly then mooched around the grounds ignoring each other for the next hour or two. I was impressed by his food drive and thought how easy he'd be to teach. He was not what we perhaps would have wanted looks wise but nevertheless fuzzy and quirky looking, no apparent issues. I was immediately quite fond. We signed the papers, handed over an adoption fee and headed home with him in the boot and our other dog on the back seat.

Unfortunately the long journey and camping at the show had stressed his bowels somewhat and he introduced himself to us by sharting spectacularly in the boot of the car on the way home and at regular intervals for almost a week later. Thankfully he now travels like a pro and remains solid!

When we got back to the house I sat down on the sofa and he jumped up and sat down next to me, curling up very small and setting his chin on my lap. Our bitch looked at him askance just once, as if to say 'WTF are you still doing here?', then did a sort of canine shrug and lay down to sleep herself. That was it, basically. That same fuzzy scuzzbut is asleep on my feet in much the same position nearly two years later. smile

He turned out to have some socialisation issues - howling and lunging at passing single dogs, fine in a big group like at that first show - but nothing I was unable to deal with. His fosterer stayed in touch for several months by phone and FB and I was able to ask her for advice as well.

The difference in our case I think was that, being breed specific, the rescue is somewhat self-selecting to begin with - it's a given that all of the dogs available will have high exercise needs and are likely to be hard pullers, so unsuitable homes are weeded out from the very beginning before they even meet the dog.

higgle Tue 06-Nov-12 15:10:42

Strangely enough the dogs I have bought - one mongrel from a streetmarket over 30 years ago ( now banned) and my old Petit Basett Griffon Venden were destructive, hard to house train and a bit keen on running away. The rescue dog we had from Many Tears ( Staffie) was perfection itself by comparison. The only reason I knew he was right for us was that his sad story made me cry more than any of the others and I didn't care a bit about him being old, threadbare and warty.

trittrot Tue 06-Nov-12 16:30:47

It’s very hard because I would have really liked to have worked with
the dog; I could see that they would make a wonderful family dog if
its issues could be resolved. No-one was able to tell me how to go
about doing so, and the environment and our circumstances seemed so
unsuited to helping the dog in the best way. I know that there are
people out there who would have kept this dog and been able
to work with it. sad

JaxTellerIsMyFriend Tue 06-Nov-12 16:37:52

Maybe you want to contact one of the Assistance Dog people, get a 'reject' or fallen Angel.

LetThereBeCupcakes Tue 06-Nov-12 17:20:29

trittrot you're right, there are people who can support this dog, and by returning him / her you have given it the best chance you can of being united with his new owners. You have totally done the right thing.

Have faith, the right dog will come along some day. Jax makes an excellent suggestion.

EasyToEatTiger Tue 06-Nov-12 17:41:42

Our first rescue was easy. A lovely straightforward bitch. A year later we re-homed another, and we were allowed to take one from the loony bin because the rescue knew where we trained and trusted the trainers. For about 6 months, we truly wondered what we had taken on. Our beloved dog was a nutter, totally physically and mentally unbalanced and with no concentration whatsoever. He behaved as though he'd never come across anything: litter bins, trees, lamposts, different colours... He had no idea of how to behave at all, or how to be a dog. We persisted, and he is a much loved family member. We felt that he could end up as a revolving door dog if we took him back, and we really wanted to make life better for him.
With our 3rd dog we experienced a completely new set of problems. This time there was no question of re-homing him, just problems to overcome for us as owners. So far dog ownership has been a massive learning curve, but well worth it. Our beloved dogs are definitely worth it! It is entirely possible that we were naive and stupid to think we could change our dogs' worlds. It is tremendously brave to take a dog back. Well done!

I never thought I would like collies, but now we have 3. The 2 oldies were about 1 when they came to live with us, and the youngster was 6 months. We went to dog club every week for about 3 years, and sought extra help when the dcs arrived. It's not always straightforward finding the appropriate help, no matter how qualified the person is.

Scuttlebutter Tue 06-Nov-12 18:26:09

Hi Trittrot, so sorry things didn't work out for you. As you may know, rescues vary quite considerably in how they match up dogs and clients. These range from a pound where you can pretty much stroll in, take your pick and walk out to more reputable charities with much more detailed processes.

There's two ends to this - the assessment of the client and the assessment of the dog. Both are equally important. The right dog for me might be a terrible match for you. Client assessment is usually done by some sort of questionannaire/screening plus a homecheck. This is where we find out about your experience, expectations, family composition, lifestyle etc. Sometimes very detailed questions can feel intrusive - for instance if a couple don't have children, it's common to ask about plans for DC. This isn't us being nosey, it really is about making sure that a dog placed with you would cope with small DC. Similarly if you already have one small DC, we'd ask about plans for more. Sadly, one of the most common reasons for relinquishment is either the arrival of a first baby/pregnancy or more frequently, the pressures of a second baby when there is a toddler.

With regard to the assessment of the dog, the gold standard is for the dog to have been in a foster home for a period of time. This allows an unparallleled opportunity to study the dog's behaviour in a domestic setting, how they interact with people, other dogs and potentially DC (depending on the foster home) and cats. For a first time adopter, I would always recommend a dog that has been fostered and carefully assessed rather than one from a kennel.

The only exceptions to this are ex racing greyhounds as usually when they come in, they have come from a very predictable (indeed, rigidly so) breeding and training programme, and very often their entire racing/training history is known. A much more predictable dog/background.

With our own dogs, the first two were matched to us after a homecheck. We went to the kennels to meet the first one, took him for a walk, liked him, and then went back and collected him. We trusted the rescue to pair us with the right dog. I think they made a good match - for instance he would not have suited a busy household with lots of DC, but for us he is perfect. For our second hound, a similar process but this time we wanted to make sure both got on OK. They did, so she came home with us. smile

After that, all the other dogs have been fosters or "failed" fosters who arrived as fosters but never left. We lost two very much loved elderly dogs this year and currently have a household of four hounds - one of ours (that first dog) and three fosters.

Rescues will be OK if an adoption has previously gone wrong - it happens, even with careful screening. If you are ready to adopt again, and would like a recommendation for a good, reputable charity, please let us know or PM me, saying roughly where in the UK you are. Between the rescue peeps here, we can steer you to the best charities with the most thorough approaches.

Good luck. smile

Rhinestone Tue 06-Nov-12 21:02:35

DHusky was a foster. She was with us for a while and was properly assessed etc. She had a few issues but nothing serious. Some lovely people were interested in her, adopted her and took her off into the sunset to her forever home.

She bit both of them on the first evening, they returned her. She came back to me, gave me a look that quite clearly said, "I TOLD you I didn't like them" and has been with me ever since.

RedwingWinter Tue 06-Nov-12 21:38:22

I think if you are upfront with rescues about what happened, they will respect you for doing what was right for the dog. Also if they know what went wrong it will help them to find you a better match.

The person LetThereBeCupCakes is referring to is Patricia McConnell. As well as her books, she has a great blog here if you're interested to read her.

As for our dogs, I had always wanted a husky. They wanted him to go to someone with previous husky experience which we didn't have, but after conversations about what he needed and we could offer, it was all agreed. He turned our lives upside down because we couldn't leave him home alone for a moment in the beginning. It also rapidly became clear that he couldn't be an only dog, so we acquired Dog2 rather quickly. Dog2 could only go to an experienced home and there were times we wondered what we had let ourselves in for. Both dogs are wonderful and I can't imagine life without them now.

We took on dogs with issues, but we were in a position to do so. Many dogs in rescue are very well behaved and lovely family dogs. (I hasten to add that ours are now, too). I am sure the right dog is out there for you.

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