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Questions to ask when going to see rescue dogs

(21 Posts)
mudsweatandtears Sat 08-Feb-14 08:09:25

I've contacted a local charity about getting a rescue dog, I saw 2 dogs on their website which they have said are probably not suitable for my lifestyle but have contacted me with another 2 possible adult dogs.
Hopefully I will get to visit them in the next few days and was just wondering what questions to ask the foster carers of the dogs. My priority is that they are good with children as I have a ds who is nearly 2, also are they good on and off the lead, do they travel well in the car, vaccinations and worming, how are they with other dogs. Am I missing any other obvious questions?
I have always owned dogs but have always had puppies bought from breeders so this is all new to me.

Scuttlebutter Sat 08-Feb-14 09:30:07

Walk away from any rescue that doesn't insist on a thorough homecheck before adoption.

When you go to meet the dogs, I'd recommend not taking yr children on hte first visit - it's too easy for heart to rule head, and you need to stay calm, focused and objective. Ask the foster carers what is known about the dog's history and background - sometimes this can be very detailed, othertimes sketchy, depending on the route through the rescue system. If you know what breed/cross they are, please make sure you have researched and thoroughly understand the breed characteristics and think you can live with them. Apologies if that sounds really obvious but often adopters don't!

Foster carers will usually give you a detailed picture of how the dog is in a home environment, and their health. So you should be updated on vax, chip, spay/neuter status, any health treatment provided or health issues known about. Behaviourally, they can advise on dog's current status WRT housetraining, being left, walking on the lead, general level of training, interactions with DC, interactions with other humans, interactions with daily life, how they travel in the car etc. Food wise, they can tell you about current diet and what dog is thriving on.

Ask if you and the foster carer can take the dog for a short walk - observe how the dog interacts with foster carer, and how it behaves on the walk. Remember you are not necessarily looking for perfect lead manners at this stage, but it's useful to see if it's reactive on the lead etc.

It's perfectly OK to say thank you at the end, and walk away - meeting the foster carer does not oblige you and if you have doubts, it's better to not proceed, than to go ahead and then ahve the adoption break down. If the first meeting goes well, then it would be good to go back with DC and have second meet to see how they and dog interact.

Good luck! smile

mudsweatandtears Sat 08-Feb-14 09:58:34

Thank you that's very helpful. It's very exciting going to meet the dogs and I can't wait to have a dog join our family but I must remember to think with my head not my heart!

MagratGarlik Sat 08-Feb-14 18:51:54

When we got our first dog, the DC were 2 and 5 years old. As Scuttle suggested, we asked to take him for a walk (with rescue staff), we visited him lots between reserving him and bringing him home, we also wanted to make sure he would not be freaked out by the DC playing, so we asked rescue staff to let the boys run and play normally with ddog1 off lead and he didn't get stressed. When we were looking for ddog2 another dog we visited was visibly stressed by young children playing etc so we walked away. (Whilst dogs should not be pestered by children, you also don't want a dog who will be stressed by normal play).

I think it is good that the rescue streered you away from unsuitable dogs, but otherwise, just visit them, find out excercise needs etc, rather a realistic look at whether the dog will be compatible with your lifestyle. Also consider the practicality of walking a dog with a buggy if you still use one. Our ddog1 was fine with a bit of practise, but was easily trained and not a stubborn type (whippet - lovely but thick as two short planks...). I can imagine other, more energetic breeds might take a bit more work!

mudsweatandtears Sat 08-Feb-14 20:19:10

Thank you, some more good points. I hadn't thought about the practicalities of walking a dog with a buggy which I would use for long distances.
The 2 dogs I'm going to see are a collie x and also a terrier x , I know plenty about these breeds but have absolutely no idea what they are crossed with!
I have a very energetic, outdoors lifestyle and I would like any dog I rehome to come out round the farm/stables twice a day with me aswell as walks around the village and towpaths. I know I could offer a great home for a dog but part of me still wonders if I would be better off with a younger dog to get used to the lifestyle. The dogs I'm going to visit are 5 and 6. Hmmmm more food for thought!

MagratGarlik Sat 08-Feb-14 21:26:41

I found with the buggy, until ddog's loose lead walking was OK, I got a second lead, which was much shorter than a standard one. If I used a standard length lead, we all got tangled up!

Love collie crosses - my first dog was a collie cross. He was wonderful!

Our current dogs were a year old and 8+ years old when they came to us. Not had any issues with the older one in terms of getting her used to our lifestyle etc. Obviously it is dependent on the individual dog, but it sounds like the type of life an energetic collie or terrier type would thrive in!

Another wonderful thing though about older rescue dogs (and I don't think 5/6 is that old), they are so thankful and that is lovely.

Good luck! Loved finding our 2 dogs. We looked at an awful lot before we eventually decided on our two, but they were well worth it.

LEMmingaround Sat 08-Feb-14 21:31:26

The only downside of them being that age, is insurance, you may find it hard to get them insured - if that is an issue for you. It sounds like you have the right set up for them. I would expect to be able to take your little boy with you to meet the dogs - i am surprised they will rehome to you with a young child, do you have any history for them? do you know why they are being homed?

mudsweatandtears Sat 08-Feb-14 22:00:01

I don't know the full history for these dogs and why they are being rehomed but I expect to be given all the details when I visit the dogs. The charity has got a very good reputation in this area and they were very quick to point out the first 2 dogs I saw on their website were not suitable to have around young children. Apart from that they have absolutely no problem rehoming a dog with a family with a young child but they choose the dog very carefully. Both of these dogs are in foster homes with young children so they can vouch for their temperament in that situation.
Rightly or wrongly I'm very pleased they will rehome a dog with me as I really want my ds to grow up comfortable around animals.

LEMmingaround Sat 08-Feb-14 22:11:53

I wasn't criticising, just genuinely surprised. The fact that they have been fostered with children would be reassurance enough for me.

Scuttlebutter Sat 08-Feb-14 23:14:41

Generally, terriers in particular are very long lived - it's not uncommon to see smaller terriers live well into their mid/late teens, so a dog who is six is still very young.

I've also known quite a few elderly collies - I'd get a few insurance quotes online to see what the policy costs are like.

We have greyhounds, another long lived breed - if I took on a 5 year old, I'd be thinking I had a young dog. Was watching our 12 year old hurtling round the park earlier today without a care in the world smile

bakingtins Sun 09-Feb-14 08:21:16

It's not normally an issue to insure a dog younger than 8, unless it's a giant breed in which case the cut-off tends to be 5.
I'd specifically ask about the dog being left alone. We've had a recent bad experience with a dog we thought we'd assessed thoroughly - seen him in his home, with children, on a walk, off lead... and were told he was ok to be left, but he had terrible seperation anxiety and we had to send him back sad
My feeling on the buggy thing is that is a training issue. Personally I need the right temperament and good socialisation, and I need the dog to be housetrained (as correcting an adult who is not clean will be difficult) and ok to be left for short periods without being distressed or destructive. The rest can be worked on.

MagratGarlik Sun 09-Feb-14 09:09:26

LEM, it is a complete myth that rescues will not rehome to families with children. There are lots of people on here with rescue dogs and young children. I think "I'd love a rescue, but I can't because I have young children" is an excuse perpetuated by people that want a puppy, but to justify that choice with something other than "I wasn't a puppy".

LEMmingaround Sun 09-Feb-14 09:48:13

I don't agree Magrat - i think that there are often very good reasons why rescue dogs are not suitable for young children. The main issues for me would be that the rescue centres often only have what people tell them "oh they are fine with children" to go by, that isn't enough. The last thing a rescue wants to do is rehome a dog into a family and there be a problem and the dog have to come back. It does however sound like this rescue centre are able to give more information as the dogs are in a family set up in the foster home anyway.

I have had puppies, and rescues - i got a puppy when DD was 2, not because i wanted a puppy. We since got a rescue dog because i didn't want a puppy this time.

I have only ever dealt with rescues who pretty much had a no children under 8 policy, unless there were exceptional circs. Our dd was 6 when we got our little rescue dog, i was surprised the dogs trust let us have him, as it said only children over 8 on his adoption card. i think they just wanted to get him a home because he was an odd little runty thing

MagratGarlik Sun 09-Feb-14 10:04:21

Many rescues will work on a case-by-case basis. Not all dogs will be suitable with children, of course, so with young children you might have to wait longer and look harder for the right dog. Both ours were from large, national charities and assessed prior to adoption. We also looked at a number of other charities and we were not turned down by any (this included Scruples, GRWE and RGT, who all said they would be happy to rehome to us), even though our youngest was 2 yo when we got the first dog and 3yo when we got the second.

There are no guarantees with any dog - so even if you've had a dog from being a puppy, you still need to apply sensible precautions with respect to supervision, separation of dog/child when you can't supervise. In fact, I have to say, the idea of combining a young, boisterous puppy which nips constantly with those pointy little needle teeth and young children seems like a nightmare to me!

mudsweatandtears Sun 09-Feb-14 10:09:43

In my area this is the only rescue place that had genuinely tried to find a dog suitable to be around my dc. Out of the others several say they won't rehome with young children and one of the largest kennels couldn't care less! You could go to those kennels, no questions asked and take your pick of the dogs, as you can imagine this is not somewhere I want to deal with!
I'll keep you all posted with which dog we end up with.

Owllady Sun 09-Feb-14 15:42:20

I have always had collie x bitches, even as a child. They are delightful. Intelligent, strong and love the outdoors. My last one was a collie/terrier mix and she was my loyal companion, an absolute star of a dog smile
I don't think I could have any other type of dog. I think collie owners are special people ;) grin
They live a . Long time. At 5/6 they will be only just starting to settle down a bit.

Owllady Sun 09-Feb-14 15:43:29

I just looked at you profile. I used to live in Stafford, my two eldest children were born there!

longingforsomesleep Tue 11-Feb-14 00:01:26

We had a greyhound left tied to our front gate one night - in a very bad way. The RSPCA came out and wouldn't let us keep it because we had children under 10.

If you know a dog's background fair enough but I'd be very wary of getting a rescue if you don't. One of our dogs is a rescue - got him when he was about 6-9 months old. The rescue centre didn't know his background. He's a gorgeous dog (black lab/collie cross) and really good natured - until somebody says "no" or tries to take food from anyone (not even from him). And then he growls and snaps. Anyone casually taking a chip from someone else's plate will make him lunge and snap. My boys are big strapping teenagers who can fend for themselves. But I wouldn't like my dog to be around small children. Presumably this relates to how he was treated as a puppy.

But then I guess it's the nature vs nurture argument. You can get a dog with a history that makes it behave badly; or you can get a brand new puppy that is just plain bad tempered!

mudsweatandtears Thu 13-Feb-14 20:01:39

Update - we are currently fostering the terrier x to see how she fits in. She's very lively and excited to have so much attention but so far so good. I've put a picture on my profile, it's not very good but it's about the only moment she has stayed still today!

Owllady Thu 13-Feb-14 20:46:39

OH shes nutty! Love her!

MagratGarlik Fri 14-Feb-14 08:34:24

Our rescue whippet came from the RSPCA. DS2 was 2 years old when whippy came to us. Of course the RSPCA would not let us just wonder in and select any dog when we had small children, but they were prepared to let us adopt a dog which they had assessed as being suitable to rehome with small children.

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