Are you considering rescuing your new best friend from a shelter or rescue organization?
I have personally rescued dogs from shelters and rescues and rehabilitated these dogs for a pet or even working dogs. I think it’s a wonderful thing to do and very rewarding. Yet there are serious considerations you must think about when contemplating a rescue. I have covered what I believe to be the most important in my blog today.
1: Why is the dog surrendered to the rescue or acquired by the rescue in the first place?
There are a number of reasons the dog ends up in a shelter or in rescue organization. The most common reason is the people simply give up on the dog. They have not put in the real time and energy to obedience training and socializing the dog. The dog then becomes problematic i.e.: dog to dog aggression, dog to human aggression, escaping due to mind bending boredom, obsessive behaviour, medical conditions or severe separation anxiety with destructive behaviour. Often the breed of dog is picked for the wrong reasons, they are purchased without proper education on the breed. This happens most often with working breeds. They love the breed on paper, but it is far too much for them to handle in real life. The dog may also have been picked up on the street as a stray. The dog has no microchip and the owner is unable to find them.
2: How much is this going to cost me financially and with my time?
Getting a rescue initially seems like a much better financial decision than going to a professional, qualified breeder. The dog has been sterilized, vaccinated and treated for worms. What it is imperative to consider is that many of these dogs may have moderate to severe behavioural challenges. Most behavioural challenges can be resolved with appropriate functional obedience training. Most require assistance with this and that requires a qualified trainer. The price of trainers will vary from trainer to trainer. Minor challenges can be resolved or curbed by joining a local dog club who usually have “volunteer” trainers. Although these trainers are well meaning and motivated in many cases they lack formal education in canine behaviour. Unfortunately, this can result in “training” based on propaganda and extremely limited experience. This is the reason for the $5 classes. My recommendation is always to obtain the assistance of a professional dog trainer. They have received a formal education in canine behaviour and communication and have passed the requirements required to gain certification. These professional trainers cost more initially but clear and efficient initial communication and training with the dog will, in the long run, provide you with a balanced, happy and well trained best companion. The trainer will also be able to identify traits in the dog and guide you towards mental and physical exercise in one of the many dog activities now available. There is a huge amount of activities you can do with your canine companion these days. Herding, noes work competitions, dog dancing, fly ball, dock diving, lure coursing, obedience trials, agility and so many more.
One more concern I need to point out, especially with shelter dogs is the lack of adequate temperament evaluation. Many shelters have no test other than if the dog acts “aggressive” in their kennel. Others have a “temperament test” consisting of a fake hand, to test for food aggression and stuffed animals to evaluate aggression to other animals. The rubber hand on a stick is ridiculous as the dog is in unfamiliar environment, and usually pretty hungry so they choose “that moment” to assess for food aggression. How stupid do they believe dogs are if they think a canine can’t tell the difference between polyester fur and filling and a real dog. In conclusion to this section, if in doubt of a dog you are considering hire a professional trainer for advice or an independent evaluation.
3: Could this dog have ongoing medical concerns.
The reality for many dogs is the reason it was surrendered is that it has a medical concern that the owner has been gutless to do the right thing, if severe enough, or simply cannot afford the ongoing medical care the dog now requires. Another delightful instance, that makes my blood boil, is that the owner can afford the ongoing care for the dog but finds it inconvenient or is simply tired of spending the money. Now, please be clear on this point, I am not suggesting you don’t adopt a dog based on medical needs. What I am saying is investing in pet health insurance is a must when dealing with an uncertain medical future for your new buddy. Be sure you read the fine print on all new insurance policies. Just as I am encouraging you to educate yourself about your rescue and decide based on logic as well as your heart strings, I encourage you to read any policy you purchase. Keep in mind through all this medical discussion that in many cases medical issues such as itchy skin, stinky skin, yeasty ears, explosive poops with your new rescued friend, can often be resolved through appropriate diet changes. Rescues and shelters operate on a budget. In many cases the food the dogs are getting is filling but cheap and poor nutritionally. Within 4-6 weeks of changing pups diet many issues are gone never to be seen again.
In no way is this an attempt to talk badly of shelters or rescue organisations yet the point that needs to made is if everyone did their job and did what was in the best interest of the animal.