(Part 3 and the Conclusion to my 2 previous posts on Adopting A Rescue Dog):
Before Sandra even visits her local shelter to look at potential dogs to adopt, I would recommend she sits down and has a good think about her requirements, and make a list of potential breeds or mix of breeds that would be compatible to her. It’s all very well and good to just go charging right in and falling in love with a rescue dog for its looks and cuteness alone, but at the end of the day, Sandra needs to balance her needs with that of the individual dog. She could see a lovely Saluki at the shelter, and fall in love with it…only to have her hopes dashed when she finds out it requires daily grooming, sheds hair everywhere, eats couches, is a terrible digger and hose-chaser, and fence-jumper extraordinaire. If she doesn’t want to be disappointed like this, then Sandra needs to whittle down her specifications, and find a dog that is hypo-allergenic and doesn’t shed, doesn’t dig, and doesn’t chase hoses or jump fences. On the other hand, she could see a sweet Cocker Spaniel that fits all her lifestyle requirements, but for one thing – it hates children. Is she prepared to invest in behaviour modification training, to get the dog to slowly accept the presence and ministrations of her grand-children, or is she prepared to shut it away in her bedroom when her grand-children visit at weekends? That would not be fair on either Sandra or the dog.
From the profile, Sandra gets along well with her neighbour’s 2 dog – the Jack Russell Terrier and Golden Retriever. I’m going to assume that she would like to keep this contact ongoing with her neighbour and her dogs, after she’s gotten her own dog. Which means the possibility of her dog going on walks with the neighbour’s dogs, and playdates off-leash in either owners’ gardens or in the park. Sandra will have to factor into her dog requirements that it needs to be dog social and not dog-reactive. Depending on how often she wants contact between her dog and her neighbour’s dogs (it may well be that either owner may house- or pet-sit for each other), then Sandra should consider getting a dog that likes other dogs.
So, in a nutshell, Sandra’s list of requirements could look like this:
1. Small to medium size – Cocker Spaniel, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Papillon, Miniature Poodle, Maltese Terrier, West Highland Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Bichon Frise, Jack Russell Terrier, Shih Tzu, Silky Terrier, Tibetan Spaniel, Boston Terrier, Pug, French Bulldog, Pekingese, Corgi, Dachshund. Or a mixed breed containing one or more of these breeds
2. Hypo-allergenic, doesn’t shed (much), doesn’t require much grooming, possibly short-haired, low maintenance
3. Must not dig, chase hoses, jump fences
4. Adult dog, 3-7 years old, either male or female
5. Moderate exercise requirements – 2 x 30 minutes walk a day plus mental enrichment
6. Must like children and other dogs
7. Temperament – must be sweet, affectionate, not too boisterous, noisy or jumpy, must not be hyper-active or highly strung
Armed with this list, Sandra can then visit her local shelter to see which dog or dogs fit her lifestyle requirements. Once she’s found a dog or dogs that may suit her, she should follow the shelter’s protocol, fill in an Adoption Questionnaire and then sit down with a member of staff to discuss just how compatible the dog is to her own requirements. It may not be possible to fulfil 100% compatibility, and Sandra may be asked if she’s willing to work on some behaviour issues or training with the dog. Depending on how much time she spends with her neighbour’s dogs, and how much contact she anticipates having with them, Sandra may be asked to come with her neighbour and the dogs, to do a dog-to-dog meet, to see if her potential adoptee can get along with them. She might also be asked to bring her grand-children to meet the dog.
All going well, if Sandra has now adopted a dog that matches her requirements, and she’s just brought it home, I would advise her to not expect too much from the dog at first. It will need a period of adjustment, to get used to her and its new surroundings, before it comes out of its shell and shows its true character. Sandra should not expect it to just unpack its belongings and make itself at home, like a human houseguest. She must be patient and tolerant with it, show it its boundaries, teach it where it can and cannot venture, what’s permissible and what’s not in her house, where to toilet, where its food and water bowls are, where it’s to sleep etc. It usually takes from 2-4 weeks for a new dog to settle in, and Sandra needs to be made aware of this. Too often new owners expect their new dogs to settle right in straightaway in its new home, and are perplexed when it “misbehaves”, which leads to the dog being returned. I would advise Sandra to give it time, space, patience and above all, love.