CLEAR THE SHELTERS! This Saturday, July 23rd is national Clear-The-Shelters Day. Most animal shelters are waiving or significantly reducing adoption fees in the hopes of finding loving homes for abandoned/relinquished pets. I myself, am adopted and always felt strongly about adopting rescue or shelter pets. I'm happy to say most of the people I know have also gotten their pets from rescues or shelters. While I am the world's biggest advocate for adopting pets, what you may be entirely surprised to learn is HOW DIFFICULT IT CAN BE TO ADOPT ONE.
Everyday I am flooded with pictures of pets in dire need of a loving home. Yet not a day goes by when I don't hear some pet parent share a horror story of how impossible it was to rescue a pet and how badly they were treated by a rescue/shelter.
Although I got my first Pug Raisin through the wonderful rescue: Pugs and Pals (www.pugdogrescue.com) and my current dog Olive from the shelter, it wasn't without my own heartbreaking, exhausting, ordeal.
Before we got Raisin we attended several adoption fairs, filled out applications, were interviewed at length, had our house thoroughly checked and scrutinized for suitability and finally, presented with a laundry list of rules, terms and conditions such as agreeing to cook and feed the dog organic, fresh, human-grade food. (-Meanwhile my family was surviving on take-out and Campbell's Soup.) Providing top veterinary/dental care, letting the dog sleep in our bed and everything else just shy of providing the dog an Ivy League college education. At last, we were finally approved as suitable candidates to adopt a wayward dog in need of a loving home.
Regardless of jumping through all those hoops, we still lost out on several dogs we had selected. A "better fit" (usually by someone in the rescue circle) always beat us out. Just when I couldn't take any more disappointments and was ready to contact a breeder, the call came in: WE GOT RAISIN! 💕💕
Last year after we had the devastating task of sending Raisin to the bridge, I again began my search for a new rescue companion and again, the ordeal began. I was promised dogs only to have the rescue change their minds and give them to others. Regular trips to the shelter routinely put me on "waiting lists" for dogs I desired and my only options were "hospice" dogs or those requiring significant rehabilitation.
Again, I'm glad I was patient and didn't SETTLE because again I lucked out and happened to stumble upon Olive. I got a text alert a Pug had come into a shelter out in the desert. I just happened to be there on vacation and made a visit. When I arrived, the dog was being examined by a vet and not in his cage. While on my way out I heard yelpng and saw a tiny black paw darting out of another cage. I ran back thinking it was hurt or fighting. When I got to the cage there stood little tiny Olive desperately trying to get my attention. I pet her through the bars and asked II she'd like to come home and live with me.
I knew then and there that was my dog and went on a mission to get her. She too had many people interested but this time luck worked in MY favor. The director of the shelter was familiar with Raisin and my work with the breed and after an embarrassing tearful meltdown while showing him pictures of Raisin on my cellphone, I was awarded Olive.
Although a completely different dog, she has been such a blessing. She has lessened my grief and depression over losing Raisin and brought me such happiness.
So, if you luck out and get the companion of your dreams from a rescue or shelter, YEAH! But, if not, hopefully you won't give up. You will understand that while rescues can be a royal pain, making you jump through lots of hoops, they are doing God's work day-in and day-out. They have seen over-and-over, helpless victims of horrific neglect and abuse at the hands of people in no position to care for a living creature.
Rescues and shelters have to make tough choices on a daily basis and be advocates for helpless creatures. They are constantly fighting for needed funds to try and heal injured, sick dogs.
Try and remember the LAST thing they want is an uniformed pet parent not ready to make the huge, often 15-18 year commitment of time, money and finances a dog requires. There's nothing worse than having to re-home dogs again and again.
That "demanding" rescue was my lifeline while I had Raisin. I knew NOTHING about dogs. and during the first 6 months he was with us I called them DAILY. They were never bothered and always helped, advised, recommended and taught me. All those requirements I once found "ridiculous" actually provided a long, happy, healthy life and experience for Raisin and us and they don't seem unreasonable now.
While it may feel like the odds of getting a pet from a rescue or shelter are less likely than hitting Lotto, I hope before you run to a breeder or Craigslist with a fist full of cash, you will try this route first with a better understanding of how things work. Good luck! 💝
🐾Please share your adoption/rescue stories and pics. I will select a winner next week!!
The following is a terrific article written by Dr. Karen Becker, a trusted holistic vet.
Many dogs get dropped off at shelters more than once, often because the behaviors that were behind the first relinquishment continue in the new home.
Common reasons for the initial abandonment most often revolve around the owner’s inability or unwillingness to give the animal an appropriate level of care, and include:
Dr. Becker's Comments:
Most canine behavior problems can be resolved with effort, time and patience.
When a dog is surrendered more than once to a shelter, it means at least two sets of owners weren’t able to help the poor pup make the transition from rescue dog to family pet.
Each successive surrender decreases a dog’s chance of finding a suitable forever home. That’s why it’s so important for adoptive pet parents to understand what their new dog may need in order to reach his full potential as a beloved family pet.
New Home JittersEach rescued or adopted dog will react a bit differently when introduced to a new home, but common behaviors can include:
Acclimating a Rescue Dog to a New EnvironmentThe safer and more comfortable your adopted dog feels in his new home, the less fearful and anxious he’ll be, and the quicker his true temperament will reveal itself. If you haven’t had a pooch in the house before, consider watching my video on how to puppy proof your home. Even if you adopt an older dog, you may still have to make your home a safe environment for the new addition.
It’s a good idea to put his bed and a few toys in a slightly out-of-the-way spot where he can still see and hear his new family, but from a safe distance.
If you plan to use a crate as a safe place or bedroom for a dog that hasn’t been crate trained or is fearful of small enclosures, be careful not to force the issue right off the bat. Many dogs have had negative experiences in a crate. I recommend you view my crate training video and read the accompanying article for lots of tips on how to successfully crate train your dog.
When it comes to attention, affection and new experiences for your dog, set a slow, consistent pace. Lavishing excessive attention on your new addition can set her up for separation anxiety behaviors when you must leave her later on.
It’s preferable in the beginning to have a slightly bored pup than one that is over-stimulated. Mealtimes, in particular, should be in a calm, quiet setting. This is especially true with a dog that doesn’t have much appetite in those first days at home. Continue with your normal daily routine, new pup included, from the get go.
Daily walks and other forms of exercise, and playtime with favorite toys are critical to the physical and mental well-being of all dogs, but especially a new furry adoptee or rescue.
If your dog isn’t leash trained or has bad leash manners, consult with a positive-reinforcement dog trainer immediately to begin working on forming new, appropriate manners.
Building a BondBonding with your adopted pet means building a trusting relationship with her. This will happen primarily through your interactions with her and the way you respond to her – especially when she misbehaves.
Anyone who adopts a dog from a shelter or rescue organization should anticipate certain behavioral problems and gather the resources necessary to deal with them.
The majority of behavior problems in adopted dogs stem from a lack of proper socialization and training, so those are good places to start.
Physical punishment should never be part of the equation. It’s not effective long-term, it can cause harm to the animal, and it will tear away at the still-fragile bond between you and your pet.
Addressing Behavior ProblemsDogs learn desired behavior through positive reinforcement. There are dozens of techniques you can learn to effectively control your dog and eliminate problem behaviors.
There are countless books, magazines, TV shows, internet sites, canine behavior experts and other resources available that can address any difficulty you encounter with an adopted dog’s temperament and behavior. Here are just a few I recommend:
The sooner you address your pet’s behavior issue, the better the chance of a satisfactory resolution to the problem.