Adopting A Rescue Dog (Part 2)

(Continued from yesterday’s post about Adopting A Rescue Dog):

I would also find out if Sandra’s property is gated and fenced, or is it wide open. Does she live in the city, in a suburb, or out in the country? If her property is fenced, will her fence be secure and high enough to deter would-be fence jumpers or escape artists? Some dogs, regardless of breed or size, are able to scale brick walls or chain-link fences and escape out into the street. Sandra may have to consider investing in a high fence with a return, or constructing a higher garden wall. Or, simply considering a small dog with short legs, such as a Corgi or Dachshund or a Pug. Having said that, how secure is her fencing under the ground? Sandra would also have to consider getting a breed that won’t dig its way out from under the fence…which means discounting certain breeds that were created to dig out or flush out prey from underground lairs, such as Jack Russell Terriers, Beagles, Dachshunds. Maybe the whole idea of having a dog that lives inside and outside is moot, maybe Sandra just wants a dog that will be happy enough living inside with her, and being taken out for a walk once or twice a day? And who will leave her precious garden alone completely? Sandra loves to read, perhaps a little dog that fits in her lap, or that’s quite happy and contented to snooze at her feet, might be just the ticket? A smaller dog may be ideal for Sandra’s arthritis, it would be easier to control while out walking, and could even be picked up when its little legs give out from tiredness, or to protect it from unwelcome advances from bigger dogs.

Sandra has never had a dog before. Getting a puppy and starting from scratch may seem a good idea, but she’ll need to consider whether in 10 years’ time, will she still be capable of walking and exercising her dog? It’s good that she’s retired so she will be home more often than not, as leaving a puppy at home to its own devices is never a good idea. Even if you ply it with a multitude of toys, more often than not the puppy will find your couch more entertaining for the stuffing that comes out of it with each rip. Or you may come home to find your precious heirloom dining room table now only has 3 remaining legs, amidst a pile of matchsticks. Puppies will need to be toilet-trained, taken outside to do their business every few hours, attend obedience classes, be taught to walk nicely on lead, learn basic commands, and be enriched both mentally and physically. Is Sandra up to committing herself to a couple of years of that, before her puppy grows up and becomes the perfect companion? If not, I would recommend discounting a puppy and looking for an adult or older dog. There are already too many dogs languishing in shelters because their owners realised they really did not want to commit, or could not commit, the time, patience and money to raise a dog from puppyhood. I would not want Sandra to contribute to that. If Sandra is in her 70s, crippled with arthritis, and wants a puppy that may outlive her, I would recommend against that for this very reason.

Adult dogs can be sourced from shelters, pounds, through local Buy&Sell ads, or even found abandoned in the streets (if the Ranger doesn’t get there first). Older dogs tend to get surrendered at shelters when their owners die or get too old to look after them, or move into aged care facilities. Both adult and older dogs may come with emotional baggage of their own, which Sandra needs to be aware of. Getting a dog from a shelter means being willing to work with any potential problems or behavioural issues the dog may have – be it separation anxiety, timidity, reactiveness to other dogs, having a high prey drive, being aloof, noisy barkers, extremely playful or completely introverted. Some dogs may develop a selective dislike towards men, women, children or other animals. Older or senior dogs, that are over 7 years of age, can come with health problems such as kidney failure, cancer, canine dementia, heart problems, cysts etc. Is Sandra prepared to take on these as and when they occur? Is she prepared to adopt an older dog that may have at the most 2-3 years of life left? Older dogs can be the most companionable, as their needs are fewer and they tend to sleep more and are content just being around their humans. How much exercise exactly does Sandra hope to get herself? Senior dogs could do with just a 30 minute walk a day, but Sandra also needs to consider whether, with her arthritis, she would be able to lift and carry her dog home, should it decide to sit down and refuse to walk because it’s gotten too tired.

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