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Talk to me about rescue dogs?

(53 Posts)
LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 07-May-15 12:42:26

We are in the very initial stages of talking about getting a dog. It would be a first dog for both DH and I, we did have dogs when I was very little but no real experience.

While there's the obvious 'ahhhh' factor about a puppy, we obviously have never trained a dog before. And I know there are lots of dogs in shelters who are looking for good homes*

My question is, how do you choose? How do you know you're not going to pick a dog with a 'bad' history? If dogs have been in shelters, does that automatically mean they've been badly treated and therefore have problems? How honest are staff, would they tell you the bad things as well as the good?

I'm nervous about making a mistake - how awful would it be to commit to a dog and then for it not to work out? - but of course DS/safety have to be the priority. Can anyone offer any advice?

*I didn't want to make this too long, but I think we can offer a good home, I'm at home most of the day, we only have one DS, live near an area with lots of great walks, etc. And we are definitely taking our time over the decision - even though it's what we want, we won't do it unless it's right...

kissedbyamoonbeammyarse Thu 07-May-15 12:49:56

Shelters assess dogs and don't rehome with children if there is any doubt. Some shelters have dogs in foster homes. They are usually at least partially trained and the fosterer had a good handle on the dogs personality. If you go to a larger pound, your dog will choose you. That had happened to us! You can spend time with a dog before finally deciding. Good luck with it all, sounds like you are approaching this very sensibly.

kissedbyamoonbeammyarse Thu 07-May-15 12:53:05

Just saw your question about how honest are staff. Sometimes there is pressure to rehome. Trust your instinct. Listen carefully to how they describe dogs. For example independent usually means the dog doesn't interact much or is stubborn!

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 07-May-15 12:58:34

Can I ask another question? Why are there so many staffies looking to be rehomed? I've just looked at two local sites and each had around 40... Is it just because people are idiots?

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 07-May-15 12:59:12

Thanks kissed

CMOTDibbler Thu 07-May-15 13:00:15

Not all dogs looking for homes have been illtreated. Some are there because their owners can't look after them any more due to illness, housing issues, or a change in circumstances. Some working breeds may be relinquished if they won't do their job (my lurcher has no prey drive so was no good for coursing).

I think charities who foster tend to know their dogs better than those who are in kennels, esp as the dogs will have been out and about more to encounter more situations

JohnCusacksWife Thu 07-May-15 13:40:39

I think you have to read between the lines about what shelters say about dogs. I'm not convinced they are always 100% honest about their dogs. My friend recently adopted a young dog from a well known shelter and was assured that the dog could be left alone, was good with kids etc. The dog had crippling separation anxiety and eventually ended up having a snap at her daughter. Needless to say the dog went back to the shelter but it's still available for adoption to a family with children (albeit with an older age limit).

Our dog is a rescue dog. He was taken in as a stray so we had NO information at all about his past. It was a gamble but it paid off for us - he's been the best wee dog ever. He's now 16 and I know he's failing. Losing him is going to be heartbreaking. I'd definitely get another rescue dog in the future but you have to choose wisely.

toboldlygo Thu 07-May-15 13:45:47

As per CMOT my rescue dog wasn't ill-treated, beyond being a bit benignly neglected in the taking out for walks and socialising sense. His busy, working and divorcing family signed him over to a breed specific rescue, whereupon he was fostered by a family with experience in the breed and had his temperament assessed in a home environment.

He came to me with a full history, a diary of his likes and dislikes, experiences he'd had, a list of things he still needed a bit of work on and an offer of 24/7 backup by phone should we have any problems (and at any point in the future too). He was also already neutered, microchipped and up to date with vaccs (several hundred £ depending on where you are in the country).

This experience may differ wildly from obtaining a dog from a council pound (which may not be clearly marked as such - beware 'dogs' home' in a rescue name!), some of which don't have the means to carry out proper home checks and whose dogs are usually kennelled and not necessarily assessed in a home enviroment. Fine for an experienced dog owner willing to take a punt on an unknown dog, not a good idea for a newbie.

It will also differ again from trying to jump through the hoops Dogs Trust, RSCPA et al. require before allowing you a precious gold-plated rescue dog that will melt if expected to live with a child or if you work for so much as one minute a day. wink

LeoandBoosmum Thu 07-May-15 13:50:09

I've always wondered about the being so many Staffies sad I think some people underestimate the amount of exercise they need. I also think there is a lot of controversy around the breed and that perhaps some people choose to get rid of their dog (on that basis) when babies come? I don't really know but it's very sad...they are a lovely breed.

hennipenni Thu 07-May-15 13:51:03

Please whatever you decide make sure that you get life long insurance cover. My DD's rescue lab would have cost her a fortune had she not insured her properly, she was diagnosed with hip dysplacia in both hips, one shoulder and has problems with her 'wrist' joints. None of this was apparent when she was in rescue and came to light a couple of months later when she'd increased her exercise as she got fitter.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 07-May-15 13:51:12

OK, 'breed specific rescue' sounds good - but that means I have to decide which breed grin

LeoandBoosmum Thu 07-May-15 13:59:41

All dogs are different, whatever their origin. Eg. my friend has two dogs, both rescue, a Westie (found on the road late at night) and a Heinz 57 (met when he was visiting a person who was fostering her after she'd been rescued from a horrible situation). Both right little characters, amazingly friendly, placid, happy to be appropriately petted, and incredibly faithful. My mum's dog, lovely as he is, was bought from a breeder and brought home at (I think) 12 weeks, so raised from scratch. He is quite neurotic, spooks very easily, is terrified of children (and has to be supervised around them) despite never being mistreated by one (no children in the home), barks at everything and can be (if the word can apply to a male) a bit of a diva!
Don't know if that helps but I think rescue dogs tend to choose you rather than the other way around and you will know when you see him/ her. smile

LeoandBoosmum Thu 07-May-15 14:16:41

Totally agree re insurance (do your research and make sure it's whole of life policy...Pet Plan and John Lewis both offer this).
What would add too is that all dogs need plenty of exercise and most can't be left alone for more tan 4 or 5 hours , whatever the breed.
If you are after a particular breed, Westies are fab.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 07-May-15 14:34:23

I work from home Leo and completely agree - even if some older dogs are happy to be left, it's not something I would do. I get lonely on my own for 6 hours a day so why wouldn't a dog?

MehsMum Thu 07-May-15 14:50:00

that means I have to decide which breed
Something like this this quiz might help you. I've run through similar ones (maybe even the same one) it brings up our type of dog as suggested for us - and since our dog is a good fit, I think perhaps it's not a bad way of at least narrowing the field.

Also worth thinking about are the longterm health issues of various breeds. If you narrow it down to a couple of breeds, go on an insurer's website and get a quote: that will give you some idea of how expensive a dog is likely to be at the vets (not a guarantee, obviously, but a clue).

And prepare yourself for dog walking come rain, shine or freezing cold with a pair of wellies, a waterproof coat and some sunscreen!

MehsMum Thu 07-May-15 14:57:03

this is a better quiz, I think. More detail.

tabulahrasa Thu 07-May-15 15:06:07

Most rescues are pretty clear about the pros and cons of individual dogs as they want the rehoming to work out, which it won't if people take home a dog without having a clear picture of what it is like.

Pounds work differently, it is pretty much, turn up, take home a dog.

With rescues that keep dogs in kennels, while they will assess dogs and take on board what the previous owner has said, but, dogs do sometimes go into a house and behave unexpectedly, with a rescue that uses foster homes there will be a better idea of behaviour in a home, but then they are having to rely on the foster carer's opinion quite a lot. So things can crop up that weren't expected.

The biggest proportion of dogs that end up in rescues do so because people buy puppies, don't train them, don't walk them and then go...OMG, this dog is out of control - they're not, they just need the same work you would put in with a puppy, you also get very well looked after pets that have just had owners with unfortunate circumstances and yes some will be there because of cruelty or neglect.

There are huge numbers of staffies for a combination of reasons, firstly there are huge numbers of staffies in general - KC registered staffies are the 5th most registered breed, if you then add in the thousands of unregistered ones and the thousands of crosses, they're estimated to be easily the most common breed.

Because of the reputation of them and the number of people breeding them willy nilly, they attract people who really shouldn't have bothered having pets but they're easy to get hold of and those that want them because they're 'aggressive'.

They then end up in rescue because they went from cute puppy to bouncy (they are pretty energetic) teenage dogs without anyone teaching them to walk nicely, not jump up and aren't exercised enough so they start creating their own entertainment...and some because they're not the devil dogs they thought they were getting (depending on which type of owner they ended up with).

Once they're in rescues they tend to stay there longer than other breeds because they have the double stigma of being a staffy and of being a rescue dog.

SmartAlecMetalGit Thu 07-May-15 15:09:06

If you have a shortlist of breeds (or plenty of time to go through the whole list grin) then this website is pretty good for getting the basics about different breeds.

The KC find a breed quiz isn't perfect but it's not bad for getting a short list of potential breeds.

A lot of breed clubs (both the national and regional ones) will have a rescue arm for their particular breed.

loveulotslikejellytots Thu 07-May-15 15:09:19

We have a rescue staffie. DH has had staffies all his life, as a general (and I mean general, there are always exceptions) they are a lovely breed. Loyal, trustworthy, they have great personalities. And again are generally good with children. I would never leave mine alone with my younger niece and nephew 6 and 7, but I don't mind the older ones 11+.

The 6 year old loves to follow him, tries to hug him, lays on his bed etc. he's never once growled at her even, instead he takes himself off to his cubby hole and goes to sleep. As much as I tell her not to do certain things, she doesn't always listen and I don't know what his tolerance level is.

Staffies are also know for not liking other dogs. Mine isn't vicious toward them, he's terrified of them, so will try to run off. This means he needs a lot of on the lead walks. 2 30 minute walks a day minimum. They he'll sleep for 20 hours!

I think staffies have a bad reputation, I find them to be loving, loyal, playful, hilarious, I could go on and on and on. I love them. We got him from dogs trust, they helped match us with him.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 07-May-15 17:32:18

You are all so mega-helpful, thank you flowers

BirdyArms Thu 07-May-15 18:25:07

I went through a similar process and found that as other's have said there's a limited range of rescue dogs available if you have dc. Lurchers\greyhounds seem to be amongst the most frequently rehomed with children, they are generally good with kids and quite a few charities around who foster them before finding homes.

So we ended up with an 8wk old lurcher pup from a pregnant dog that a rescue had taken in. I had quite fancied an older puppy/ young dog but hard to refuse choosing from a beautiful litter of puppies! I also hadn't particularly wanted a lurcher but have come round to them, they have a good health record and don't need crazy amounts of exercise, and now I think they are beautiful though I didn't at the start of the process!

Bubble2bubble Thu 07-May-15 20:10:45

this site can be helpful if you are looking for a rescue.
As others have said, with your lack of dog experience,I would steer you towards a rescue which keeps dogs in foster homes will have a much better idea if their temperament in a normal home setting.
It may take a while, but if you are offering the right home there will absolutely be a rescue dog out there for you

bilbodog Thu 07-May-15 20:10:53

Hi our dog is a rescue from a local charity. They try their best to make a good match and even followed up a few weeks later to check all is going well. Our dog is a collie cross and he had been kept in a flat where they weren't supposed to have dogs so he came to us at 8 months. He us absolutely gorgeous and 11 now. I would not consider getting anything other than a rescue dog as there are so many needing to be re homed. I have friends who have driven miles and paid a lot of money for pedigree pups and they are all snappy paranoid and aggressive. My vote is for a mutt every time. Good luck.

JoffreyBaratheon Fri 08-May-15 13:10:49

OP, it's worth saying rescues have puppies. We got our 8 mth old staffy cross from a big rescue, and she is a sweet natured, beautiful dog. The first rescue I have ever had as when I had young kids I assumed rescues wouldn't home to us, or have pups anyway. We got on the waiting list for a pup as I have two elderly cats and the rescue said it was best. I waited two months for a litter of pups to come in, ringing rescue every day! They told me that is the longest they have ever gone without a litter. Our pup was one of a litter of 7, and within the week they had a litter of 10 GSD crosses then a large litter of black labs.

Even a pup may have been damaged by its first life experiences (our's is a very submissive dog, almost too submissive and can be scared of other dogs even though she was well socialised from the second we brought her home).

The other advantage of a rescue puppy is - we paid £80 for her and included in the price, her full set of vaccinations AND we had to take her back at 6 mths to be spayed. Plus obviously a health check when she went in to rescue. No breeder could offer you that.

lougle Fri 08-May-15 14:55:43

I think a rescue is absolutely the way to go. We're just in the middle stages of getting a rescue dog.

The dog will come with a pet passport, full vaccinations, wormed, flea treated, microchipped and assessed. I've already had photos, videos, descriptions of his temperament, preferences, strengths, areas for development, habits, etc.

I have had to give a lot of detail about the home he will come to, also.

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