Adopting A Rescue Dog (Part 1)

The following is part of my coursework for my ongoing Diploma in Canine Psychology course, with The ISCP. I’m 1 units and a final Thesis shy of getting my Diploma. Just need to find the time to sit down at my computer and type!

(My Answer is rather long, so this Post will be in 3 parts).

The Question:
Read my mini-book, Adopting a Rescue Dog. This is available as a free PDF file that you can download from After reading this, write between 1,000 and 3,000 words on what suggestions and recommendations you would offer to this woman who is thinking of adopting a rescue dog and is asking for your advice:

Sandra lives alone and is recently retired. She lives in a small house with a large garden. Sandra has never had a dog before, but gets on very well with the Golden Retriever and Jack Russell Terrier who live next door. Lately she has been thinking of adopting a dog for company and to motivate herself to take more exercise. She enjoys walking, though not for long distances as she is prone to arthritis. Her grandchildren, aged 7 and 9, visit at weekends. Sandra is a relaxed, easy-going person who likes a quiet life and intends to spend her retirement gardening and reading. She is rather proud of her beautiful garden.

In your essay, include:
. Which points do you feel are most relevant to Sandra’s temperament and plans for her retirement?
. Which breed or mix of breeds do you think could be a good match with Sandra’s lifestyle, personality, situation and interests?
. Would you recommend a puppy, adult or older dog?
. What advice would you give her about visiting a rescue shelter and preparing to adopt a dog?

(Artwork by Dean Russo, found on Google).

My Answer:

From the profile given, Sandra clearly takes great pride in her garden. It would not be suitable therefore to recommend to her a breed that’s large and energetic to boot, that will no doubt rip up her precious lawn and flowerbeds in no time at all. Also, as she suffers from arthritis, it would not be advisable for her to get a breed that’s too large to handle, or too energetic to rein in easily. Her house is small, although her garden is large. A big dog in a small house, especially if it’s rambunctious, could be akin to a bull in a china shop – a recipe for disaster. This would discount the larger, stronger breeds such as the Rottweiler, Bull Mastiff, Great Dane, Saint Bernard, Bernese Mountain Dog, Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute.

Sandra’s temperament appears to match well with her neighbour’s Golden Retriever, who is a medium-large breed but not too energetic. Golden Retrievers are known for their even temperament, affable and easy-going nature, intelligence and trainability. As their name implies, they were bred to retrieve ducks and birds for hunters…so Sandra may have to consider taking up the practice of throwing balls and frisbees for her new dog, if she got a Golden Retriever. Is she prepared to do that within her property? Or is she happy to take the dog out for walks in the park, off-leash, and throw things for it to fetch? How will that affect her arthritis? If she’s unable to fulfil a Golden Retriever’s need to do what it was bred for, exercise-wise, is Sandra prepared to invest in enrichment toys to keep its brain active?  

Jack Russell Terriers tend to be active little dogs, but they can also be couch potatoes who like nothing better than to curl up in your lap – Sandra’s neighbour’s Jack Russell Terrier could well be one of those, or an older, more mature dog that has passed its juvenile/adolescent stage and has settled down. Seeing as Sandra already has a rapport with her neighbour’s Golden Retriever and Jack Russell Terrier, she would already have a good idea about their temperament, exercise requirements, life span, space requirements, mental agility etc. Jack Russell Terriers, by their very name, can be real diggers, and Sandra would have to take this into account if considering getting one for herself. Perhaps her precious garden could be blocked off from the dog, and only a certain part of it made accessible? Is she prepared to put up with her lawn being ripped up, holes in the ground and mounds of earth everywhere? Is Sandra a clean house fanatic, because any dog that digs and is allowed both inside and outside the house, is bound to traipse in muddy footprints, leaves, the occasional dead mouse or shrew, and grassy puke.

Certain small dogs do not appreciate being picked up and played with like a toy. I would find out more about Sandra’s grand-children, who, at age 7 and 9, are at the peak of their curiosity. A small, diminutive dog, such as a Chihuahua, would appeal to children who may even mistake it for a puppy. If it doesn’t like the way it’s been picked up and handled, it may nip, or burst into a tirade of ferocious barking and snarling…enough to scare small children away, and to make adults think it’s a dangerous dog. If Sandra is keen on a small dog, I would suggest some breeds that have been bred as lap-dogs, specifically for warming the laps of humans and keeping them company. These breeds haven’t the fiery temper that Chihuahuas are famous for. For example, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Tibetan Spaniel, Papillon, Miniature Poodle, Maltese Terrier, Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise. These breeds are cute and will appeal to both adults and children for their sweetness of temperament. Their exercise needs aren’t especially demanding – a 30 minute walk a day, or twice a day, is more than sufficient. They’re not inclined to go digging in the garden, but would rather just spend time curled up at your feet.

(Continued in tomorrow’s post)…

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