October 4, 2012

Lessons Learned: Adopting a Rescue Dog (with apologies)

With sincere apologies in advance to folks who come to "craft blogs" and are not happy to find off topic stuff, please 'scuse me.. gotta get something off my chest. Adopting a dog is giving him or her their forever home -- it's not until they aren't puppies and "cute" anymore, or until you decide you just don't want a dog, or until you can't provide for him or her. It's a big decision .. they don't call it a "forever" home for nothing. Having adopted 4 -- and I hoped 5 -- rescues, each has their own challenges, the biggest one often being their background. It's not going out, buying a doggie bed, toys, food, a doggie door and "playing house." This is especially true if you are integrating a rescue dog into a home where you already have another dog! I've worked with rescue groups off and on for over 20 years so I never thought I'd be one of "them" -- the people who need to "re-home" (their term, not mine) their rescue. We adopted Hallie as a sister to Lacie in July of this year based on 1) her "description" on the rescue group's site, 2) a home meeting here with Lacie and 3) their representations of her temperament etc. I didn't do MY homework - I didn't check with a trainer to see how fitting a formerly feral (wild) pup who was also mostly border collie (loud, bossy, sweet dogs who are very "in your face") with our laid back hound Lacie Jane. I didn't point blank ask if she was okay with small children or other dogs... my bad. But we put on our application that the only reason we would return her is if she became aggressive to other dogs and children. They were on notice. If they didn't tell us, shame on them; if they didn't "vet" her to determine her true temperament, they shouldn't be doing what they do. They are after all just regular folks like me who love dogs, not professional dog trainers or behavioralists. When you want to adopt -- and I hope if you want to getaa dog, you do adopt -- get recommendations from dog "professionals" in your area (kennel, dog camp, trainer, vet) for rescue groups who do their homework and provide strong, loving fosters who don't sweep fixable problems under the rug. To make a long story short, we have had to "rehome" Hallie, a much happier, better dog than we got her -- she did great in basic obedience, got crate and doggy door trained and was "for the most part" a fun playmate for Lace.. "for the most part" I say again. What she also was is aggressive on leash and in greeting.. very aggressive at times. No one mentioned this.. The rescue group denied it when asked twice during the two months we had called them and asked -- "it must be you" they said. We tried everything and in the end watched Lacie go from a laid back hound to an apprehensive, slinking girl who defended her every toy, lost 4 pounds in 2 months because she was too stressed to eat and herself began to be "growly" with other dogs! She's terrified of our yard, doesn't like her doggy door and had accidents in the house. Hallie was always 'in her face' when she wasn't sleeping or in squirrel watching mode on our deck. We adored her and giving her up was gut wrenching -- she didn't want to go, tugged against the leash as the volunteer basically grabbed her from me. The rescue group took her back no questions asked although I provided them with insight from the trainers and vet, and seemed completely indifferent to her problems which, in the right home with no other dog, would most likely be completely fixable. Hallie's smart and eager to please. She is again on their adoption site with the same description they used last spring. No mention of all the wonderful things she's learned so people will know she will use a crate and doggy door, knows how to be a good girl for treats etc. But also no mention of her dog or child aggression. She deserves better. I hope whoever looks at her and finds her as appealing as we did asks the right questions. I hope they ask a trainer about the breed and a dog with a feral background. And because the rescue group has not marked her as potentially aggressive, I hope their answers are honest when the right question is asked. I hope in the end, they listened. I won't look at their site again. I don't want to know what happens to this adorable little girl who had a terrible beginning feral in the woods and has so much potential. She just deserves an honest chance. None of this is her fault. But will she get it? We love you, "Hal" and will never forget you. PS: Please don't unsubscribe.. I promise I won't do this again and when I clear out the Operation Write Home shipper den, I'll be back with some cards or crafts and so so happy to do it!


  1. Caro, I'm so very sorry you had to go through this. I can only imagine how heartbroken you are, but you did exactly what you had to do. It was not fair to you, Hallie or especially Lacie Jane. It is a shame that some of the employees of these organizations don't have the total interest of the animals at heart. If they did they would try harder to be more upfront and honest with potential adoptive families. I do hope Lacie Jane will get back to her lovable self and you know what they say: Everything happens for a reason. There might be another "baby" out there that needs you even more than Hallie did and will be a better fit. You have my sympathy because of the loss you have suffered. Try to keep you chin up. Hugs, Donna

  2. Hi Caro. I have adopted rescued Wiemeraners for over 20 years. Until last year we had never had a problem but we went through a much worse time with a "resource hoarding" dog that resorted to biting when challenged. Over the course of a year with her I was bit at least six time that I can remember. After discussions with a different trainer than we started with we decided we had to put her down. It was the worst day of all my dog owning years. I would question a rescue organization that would put the dog back up for adoption without mentioning the issue you had with the animal. I understand totally your frustrations and sadness over the issue. You did right to move her out of your home before something bad happened. Hugs to you for being such a responsible dog owner!

  3. Donna, thank you for your insight. You made me feel better about rehoming her .. Lacie is just so lonely.. gonna try day camp once a week or two beginning next weekend.