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Rescue dog and ASD?

(6 Posts)
DoggiePaddler Fri 18-Mar-16 06:30:15

Hi - we are hoping to get a dog and we have two dogs on our shortlist.

First dog is a lab cross with a staffie, she is 3 years old and is a rescue dog. She's passed their temperament tests with flying colours and is good with cats (we have two cats). She's very lively, quite bouncy and jumps up a lot, she'd knock a little toddler over but is fine with our kids aged 6,8,10. We were cautioned by a family friend who works at the shelter that an adult rescue dog might not be the best option as both our DSs have autism, and in a meltdown situation if the dog thought another family member was being threatened, there is a risk it may go for one of the boys. However, as the dog would have its own space with a run outside, she said it would be ok with its own space to retreat to. She still suggested a puppy.

Second dog is an 8 week old puppy, also a rescue dog. He looks like a lab cross, very sweet (but trying not to be swayed by a cute puppy). They said he'd grow to be a medium/large dog - that's not an issue for us, we have a big garden, and will be aiming to go for two decent sized walks each day.

Part of me feels like I should support the adult dog, she'd be harder to find a home for long-term, and I'm sure a cute puppy would go quite quickly. But I can't get over the possible risk of an adult dog with an unknown background; apparently she was found wandering and her owners just didn't want her back.

Do any more experienced dog owners have any advice? (We're in New Zealand in case anyone suggests any rescue places in the UK).

Regardless of which of the above dogs we go with, we also have our name down for a failed guide dog so would hope that later this year we'd have two dogs, but I guess getting both these dogs now is not an option as they are so very different.

insan1tyscartching Fri 18-Mar-16 10:34:34

I have two children with autism and we have Eric who we got as an 8 week old puppy (not rescue) Our reasons for a puppy were more to do with us never having had a dog before and didn't feel confident to take on a rescue rather than the autism to be honest.
The pros have been that Eric has never known any different and so is totally accepting of what happens here (no meltdowns but routines that have to be adhered to). It has been lovely watching him learn and knowing that we are responsible for the lovely dog he is now. He is devoted to the family as a whole and adapts to the very different needs of ds and dd.
The cons would be I really didn't enjoy the puppy stage and the two with autism didn't either. Puppies are full on and hard work and ds and dd didn't really enjoy the unpredictability,the nipping and not being able to leave their things where Eric could get them and just when you thing the worst is over along comes adolescence and Eric was a stroppy pain then as well.
Just realised I've not offered any advice more told you our experience and of course I know nothing about how a rescue dog would adapt. I would say though that Eric has been a lovely addition to our family and the dc love him dearly.

Stradbroke Fri 18-Mar-16 17:18:59

We are going through the same at the moment. Our daughter would just not be able to make allowances for an adult dog that needed things to be a certain way due to her ASD.
We will be trying to go down the puppy route but as rescue pups come up so rarely will probably need to buy from a breeder.
It is a shame but I cannot take the risk with our daughter.

Floralnomad Fri 18-Mar-16 23:33:13

stradbroke , if you are in the UK it's perfectly possible to get a pup from rescue ,there are loads .

MeadowHay Sat 19-Mar-16 16:23:03

^ There are puppies in rescue all around the country at the moment (RSPCA, Dogs' Trust, Hounds First, I'm sure many more too). It's really not hard to get a puppy from rescue in the UK but you do have to be committed to contacting the shelters regularly because they are so popular, be willing to wait awhile until they come up in your area or be willing to travel to get one.

OP, to be honest if I were you I would be thinking that neither of those two dogs sounds like an excellent fit for children with autism that sometimes have big meltdowns. I think the best fit for that would be a very calm, placid dog, ideally already well-trained like a guide dog that you mentioned, or alternatively a greyhound or even a lurcher I think would be another good fit and there are loads of them in rescue. I think that a boisterous dog that jumps up a lot could distress your children at difficult times or just be a bit much for them to cope with sometimes? And with a puppy, the puppy stage is super hard work and probably wouldn't be fun for your little ones, puppies nip, jump about, are very unpredictable, and lots of time and energy goes into their training. Plus, there is no guarantee that a puppy you raise excellently will turn out how you expected. Plenty of people raise puppies well to find that the dog isn't quite how they imagined they would be (for better or for worse). Genetics still play a part in the dogs' personality after all so getting a puppy is always a bit of a gamble whereas with an adult dog you know exactly what their personality is already. Just my two cents. Hope you find the right doggy fit for your family soon.

moosemama Sat 19-Mar-16 16:39:07

I have 1 ds who has ASD. We've always had dogs. Had three when ds was born and gradually ended up with 1 by the time he was 11. We chose to go for a rescue pup, but actually more because the local rescues wouldn't rehome to us, because dd was under 5 at the time.

It worked really well for us, ds and the pup bonded very closely and having him was absolutely the best thing for ds - but - we were lucky. Our pup was never nippy or bitey and has never chewed any of the dcs' belongings. This is partly down to managing the situation carefully, but also sheer luck that he was - and is - such a lovely, good natured pup. I don't think ds1 would have handled things quite as well if we'd had a nippy, toy-stealing, full of devilment pup. It also helps that both of my dogs are large Lurchers and very lazy laid-back by nature.

If ds goes into a meltdown (thankfully pretty rare these days - ds is 14 now by the way) the dogs just retreat to their safe space and keep out of the way until things calm down. It's amazing how quickly they can disappear when they want to and they tend to sense things building and slope off before things get heated. I think possibly the pup learned this from our older dog, who we also rescued at 14 weeks old and that dog took his cue from our two much older dogs that were with us when ds was born.

I wouldn't rule out an adult rescue, but if we'd gone that route would have taken much longer to find exactly the right match and then probably gone for a foster with a view to rehoming. Is there any chance you could take the older dog on a foster basis to begin with and see how things go?

There are plenty of pups to be found in rescue, but sometimes you need to follow the rescue's websites and be in contact with them to know when they come in, as they're often rehomed before they're even listed.

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