A rescue friend recently shared an article with me from Austin German Shepherd Rescue. The article discusses the probable behaviors exhibited during the adjustment period and gives great advice on how to deal. Many adopters don’t understand that a new dog needs a little time and encouragement to adjust to a new home, and they give up too quickly before really giving the dog a chance. It got me thinking about a few of the things we rescuers just assume our adopters know…
Here are some of my favorite tips for helping your new dog adjust:
Establish a routine: Dogs, like humans, are creatures of habit. A daily routine will not only help you establish trust with your dog, but will also make additional training much easier.
Exercise: Provide adequate play time and walks to relieve stress and burn off that excess (often destructive) energy. You should absolutely be involved in this exercise time interacting and strengthening the bond with your dog.
Explore: Let your dog check out his new surroundings and get comfortable in his new environment, but do monitor his actions. It is best to start slow, blocking off other rooms at first then allow more access as the dog gets comfortable. Let your dog know that you are in charge and maintain leadership in your house.
Introduce slowly: If you already have an established pack in your home, introduce your new dog to the others slowly and in a controlled manner. It can be overwhelming to be tossed into a new group – keep a close watch on the interactions. Discourage negative behaviors and reward positive ones.
These are just a few of the tips I often give to new adopters. The aforementioned article delves deeper into these tips and more. I encourage everyone to read the full copy at Adjustment Article for Adopters.
My favorite quote from the article: “Everyone that brings a dog home needs to understand that, like your kids, you never know what you’re gonna get. Be prepared to help them work through their struggles. It’s worth it in the end.”
We have a rule at my house – if you eat it, you wear it (and are forced to pose for photographic evidence). This of course goes for all things not intended to be edible. Shoes, scarves, hats, bags, ribbons, bows, etc all fall under this rule. I came up with this rule for my own amusement over 5 years ago when my first beagle, Skoda, was just a puppy destroying everything. Now with the popularity of Dogshaming I am kicking myself for not marketing this idea from the start. Who knew?!
Nonetheless, I present to you some of my fave photos of my furry kiddos falling victim to the You Eat It, You Wear It Rule:
Back by popular demand! This very first Skoda and Santa photo was taken at a local PetSmart 5 years ago. The store was bustling that day with many shoppers and onlookers… the perfect venue for Skoda to set out to embarrass me. When it was her turn to meet Santa, she promptly peed on the carpet at his feet. I lifted her up to sit in his lap, and Skoda went to work chomping on Santa’s fuzzy beard – which she then choked on and immediately hacked back up on his pants. I have never seen a Santa turn so un-jolly so quickly, or a store so happy to see its customers leave. But look how proud of herself she is. That’s my girl!
A couple of months ago I learned of an essay contest hosted by local TV show, For the Love of Dogs. The concept of the America’s Best Tails Contest was simple: submissions were to be about an animal who had a profound impact on an individual, or vice versa. The winning submissions would win a check up to $1000 for the animal rescue organization of their choice. I immediately thought of Norman’s story, and of course, DFW Rescue Me. I submitted a condensed version of my previous blog post, Saving Norman. Several weeks passed and I had honestly forgotten about my submission; then I received an email from the show producers — Norm and I were finalists in the contest!
The following week Norman and I, along with a good friend and fellow volunteer, arrive at the TV studio to tell our story. We will be taping along with 2 other finalists and the winner will be announced at the end of the show. As we listen and talk with our fellow contestants, I am reminded that Norman’s story of pain and neglect is unfortunately all too common. We have some tough competition in this contest and any of the represented rescues would be worthy of the winnings.
Rather than retell each story, I invite you to watch our episode below.
Norman and I came in 2nd, winning $500 for our rescue group, and we couldn’t be happier. I am just thrilled that we had this chance to tell Norman’s story and win an awesome donation for DFW Rescue Me. I hope that Norm’s story will teach others about the seriousness of Heartworm Disease and serve as a reminder for the importance of Heartworm prevention.
It’s been pretty busy around here, so I have gotten a little behind with the blogging…
Just last week, my rescue group (DFW Rescue Me) wrapped up a 24 consecutive day stretch at the State Fair of Texas. The mega adoption event, Bark at Fair Park, was a resounding success! We started out a little slow due to cool, rainy weather, but things picked up nicely as the fair ran its course. Picked up so nicely in fact that we found forever homes for over 120 dogs! That’s right, 120 dogs were adopted in just 24 days. I’d say that’s pretty darn impressive!
A special ‘thank you’ to all our sponsors for this event – especially DR Horton Homes. We appreciate all of our sponsors and of course our awesome volunteers. We couldn’t have done it without you! It was great to spend time with “old” rescue friends and meet lots of eager new volunteers, too!
We look forward to seeing everyone at the State Fair of Texas again next year, and plan to make Bark at Fair Park even bigger and better!
Shifting gears, we now look ahead to the upcoming trial of Darius Ewing, the man accused of the violent burning of 4 month old puppy, Justice. Ewing has been charged with animal cruelty, a 3rd degree felony due to the use of a deadly weapon. The trial is set to begin on November 12, and we are hoping the responsible parties receive the maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Stay tuned for more updates as we seek justice for Justice.
Yep, it’s official! Norman the Beagle is a bona-fide foster failure. We adopted Norm just last week, but it took almost losing him to realize he was always a very special part of our family that we couldn’t be without.
I admit I went about this all wrong. I should have stopped it sooner. But, I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up…
It all started with an email inquiry and a request to meet Norman at an adoption event. I have always wanted the best for Norm so I saw no harm in at least exploring this opportunity. The potential adopters came out to meet Norman, and they were just what I had always wanted for him. An older couple, semi-retired with an empty nest. Norman would be the only dog in the household. He would finally get to be top dog and get run of the house, not like here where he has to share with my other beagle – and believe me, does she put him in his place! They understood his health concerns and limitations, and still they wanted to move forward in the adoption process. I felt good meeting them and we agreed to the next step, the home visit. The plan was that I would bring Norman to their home at the end of the week. At that time they would complete and sign the adoption contract, pay the adoption fee, and the adoption would be finalized. Norman would be their dog.
Their dog. Those words started to sink in and already that very night I was feeling anxious. By the next day the tears started to fall. Giving Norman the life he deserved also meant I had to give him up. Every day I thought the next would be better, but the tears and emotions only got worse. I had already made a commitment to the potential adopters; I couldn’t turn back now. I told myself I was doing the right thing- giving Norm a better life, giving him all the things I couldn’t directly give him myself. I looked for a sign from Norman, something that would reinforce this was right, but all I saw was how happy he was here in our home. How would I go through with this? How would I tell Norm I love him but won’t see him again? How would I tell him I am not abandoning him but still leave him behind?
The day of the home visit arrived and I was a total mess. The tears were relentless. Not just tears, but full-on deep, heaving sobs. Every moment was another “last” – the last time Norm would greet me at the door when I got home, the last time he would roll in our grass, the last time he would nap in his favorite sunny spot in our living room, the last time we would cuddle on our couch. I told myself again and again that I was doing what was the best for Norman. I know the bittersweet feeling of letting a foster go on to a new forever home – there is sadness, but joy, pride, and hope outweigh that. I should have realized sooner that this was different. This was agonizing pain and sheer panic. This was true heartbreak. I reminded myself that I made a promise, a commitment, to the potential adopters. I certainly didn’t want to hurt or disappoint them, but how would I go through with this? They met Norman only once and loved him; I had loved him for close to a year. I felt trapped, and I knew I created this mess myself.
I am embarrassed to say it came down to the 11th hour. I repeatedly attempted to compose myself, each time without success. I eventually resigned myself to fact that I was going to be sobbing mess. I pushed on, gathering Norman’s special things and getting him ready for the 45 minute drive to his new home. I watched as my husband sat on our living room floor trying to say goodbye to Norm. He was cuddling a smiling, tail-wagging, happy Norm, petting him and telling him he was a good boy… that’s when I saw the tears in my husband’s eyes. I have only seen my husband cry once, when his father died, and even then he did so in private when he thought no one would see. I broke down (again) and so did my husband. At that moment we both knew we couldn’t go through with this. Norman was our dog and he belonged here with us. This was always his forever home. Norm knew it all along, it just took us a bit longer to catch on.
Of course it wasn’t just that simple. We still had to break it to the potential adopters. They would be expecting us at their house soon. We knew we had to call and tell them the truth – we love Norman too much to let him go. Not surprisingly, the call was ill-received by the potential adopters. Actually, they hung up on us before we had any chance to attempt an explanation. I certainly don’t blame them. I shouldn’t have let it go so far. I should have stopped this the first day the tears started. I never wanted to hurt them and I wanted to be able to go through with it for them. I am sure they will never know how hard this was for us or how very sorry we are. I know they will give some other lucky dog a fabulous home. Maybe in loving that dog they will understand how we couldn’t let Norman go, and with that, they will find it possible to forgive us.
Regardless of how this all unfolded, I am so very happy that Norm is officially and permanently our boy! I know that adopting Norman ourselves was the best thing for him… and for us.
It’s every rescuer’s fear. The one that slipped through your fingers. The one you didn’t save. I thought I had her, but I was wrong. I just stood by, helpless, as I learned she would be whisked away to the shelter. I am not even certain where she is now, if she is alive or dead, but I know I failed her.
This has hit me very hard. I am left questioning why I got into rescue in the first place and if I can keep going with it. Sure, you try to focus on the ones you do save, but how do I put those others out of my mind? Who am I to decide which ones live and rejoice that another took the place?
Have I gotten so involved in this that I have lost the grasp of reality? Is it “just a dog”? No, it can’t be. When I look into all those dogs’ eyes I see the fear, the pain, the longing for hope. A kind hand makes those same eyes reflect joy, trust, and love. There is much more than “just a dog” there. If it were “just a dog”, this wouldn’t hurt so much.
Hunter is a neutered male basenji mix, about 2 years old. This handsome guy is full of affection. He loves to play, but cuddles are his favorite! Hunter is smart too – he knows many basic commands and is a quick learner.
While Hunter is not at liberty to divulge much about his background, I can tell you that he was born to a family of international spies and raised as such himself. He steadily rose through the ranks of a secret intelligence agency and was known worldwide (well, in the secret spy world anyway) for his super spy skills – especially his deadly cuteness and charm. He has also been extensively trained in the arts of super-sonic tail wagging and serial kisses.
Hunter’s celebrated charms and good looks brought him much praise, but were also the very things that caused his demise in espionage. Hunter was banished from the spy unit after breaking one of the cardinal rules of spy-dom: he fell in love with a beautiful operative of an enemy organization. The forbidden affair was discovered, and before the lovers could run away together leaving the spy life behind forever, Hunter’s fair maiden was killed in the line of duty (some even say she was terminated by her own side as a result of the treasonous relationship). Hunter was heartbroken, his fearless edge gone, and his organization shamed by the affair. He was unceremoniously stripped of his spy status, booted from the secret agency, and eventually wound up at Dallas Animal Services where he was rescued by DFW Rescue Me. While he has had quite the exciting past, Hunter is relieved to leave the spy life behind and is ready to begin his new life of leisure in a real fur-ever home!
Well, maybe that’s not exactly Hunter’s background story… but it could be, right?
If you would like to meet Hunter, leave a comment or visit http://www.dfwrescueme.org.
It happened again today. An email inquiry about adopting my foster beagle Norman. As always, my heart drops for a moment as I read the subject line, and a mini anxiety attack sets in. I’ve dodged this bullet before – either the home just wasn’t a good fit or the “interested” party flaked out.
I hold my breath and click to open the email. Her name is Connie… and she is perfect! She has years of active rescue involvement, a love and understanding of beagles, and personal experience with special needs dogs. Then I see it: she lives in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania! Not only would Norman be living with someone else, he would be living in another state over a thousand miles away. I would most likely never see him again.
Can I really do this? Should it really matter if he lives across town or across the country? While I was busy doting on Norman and getting him healthy, I completely forgot to prepare myself to eventually let him go to a new forever home. I know every dog deserves a great home and every foster family thinks their foster dog is special, but Norm really IS special. He had a rough former life – abandoned by his owners as his body was slowly and painfully deteriorating from advanced Heartworm Disease. When I first met Norm, I promised him I would get him well, keep him safe, and never abandon him. If I let him go to live in another home, will he understand? Will he think I went back on my promise? Maybe Norman never knew what I said, never understood. But I did.
On the other hand, if Norman goes to live in a new forever home then I will be in a better position to foster again. I can help another dog just like Norm. There are thousands of dog out there literally dying to be rescued and rehabilitated.Thousands of dogs that just need to buy a little time in a foster home; dogs that just need a chance.
But I would have to let Norm go.
From the moment I chose to bring Norman into my home, I said there was no time limit as to how long he could stay with me. He was welcome to stay as long as it took to find a better home, not just any home. But is there a better home? Is my home the one that was always meant to be?