Rescue Dogs

A lot is made of the supposition that a dog is probably put into a rescue centre because it has behaviour problems.

Having been involved with identifying dogs that can be re-homed without spending more than a few days in a rescue centre for little more than a check-over by a vet, I can say that the majority of dogs go into ‘rescue’ for no other reason than their owners have little choice but to make that decision because of their own circumstances.

I’m determined not to belabour each situation but will limit myself to a short overview of some factors.

Small Clean House, Growing Dog

It’s too easy to think of a dog not taking up very much space even when you know that it will grow somewhat from its puppy cuddliness. I think it’s fair to say that an adult ‘medium’ sized dog will weigh between 40 and 50 lbs (roughly 18-22.5kg), which is the same size as an average child between the ages of 5 and 7.

Imagine a child of that size being able to move very quickly around your home on all fours and you can see how, if your home is small, there’s potentially going to be some irritation.

Unlike a coffee table, a dog will not stay in one place and, unlike a child, most breeds shed their coats. Dogs are also not good at using doormats in muddy weather.

New Baby

Quite a number of people think that pregnancy is a good trigger to acquire a puppy, because it’s a good idea for a baby to grow up with a dog. It’s a wonderfully romantic idea that misses a few key factors.

Babies and puppies both require a great deal of attention. How will the parent at home find the time to manage both?

Puppies can be quite ‘nippy’ with noisy animals. Babies are often noisy. Even without the application of teeth, puppy paws are clumsy and come fitted with claws.

Baby toys will often be dropped or thrown onto the floor away from the ‘baby zone’. Puppies like to chew baby toys as much as anything else. This can be expensive not only in terms of replacement toys but because baby toys are less resilient than dog toys and a lot of puppies see nothing wrong in swallowing random bits of things.

A dog in a car crate takes up a lot of space. A baby takes up a lot of car space not only in a carrier, but because of changing bags, buggies and all manner of other things. If a couple already has a toddler in a seat the car may suddenly be inadequate and choices have to be made. It’s an easier financial decision (if not an emotional one) to dispense with the dog and not be forced into a larger car.

Work Demands

Reduced hours, pay freezes and inflation have left many people barely able to feed their children properly and the decision to place a dog in rescue has been the kindest solution to ease the financial burden.

Company buy-outs by foreign firms have seen management forced to relocate to another country in order to save their own jobs. If their dog is old then re-homing, even through rescue, is possibly a better decision for the dog than international transport (which has been adversely featured in the news recently).

Changes in work patterns for one partner may mean that a dog is left unattended for many hours at a time. This can damage a dog psychologically and its health may decline as a result.

Changed Circumstances

There has been great financial uncertainty over the last few years and there are many people who have been forced to downsize their lives to release equity for pension funds. This is similar to ‘Small Clean House’, although it may be that there is more than one dog involved. I know several people, for example, who have four or more dogs. Were they to be forced to move to much smaller homes I doubt that all of them would manage easily.

Adjustment Period

Regardless of why a dog has found itself in rescue, there will always be a period of adjustment as he settles in to his new home. Even after only a few days in rescue he’s come into a home with a completely different dynamic to his old one. The smells, faces, voices and noises will be different and every new thing will, dependent on his temperament, be something to investigate or a source of worry or even fear.

It can take up to six months for him to properly settle in before the true nature of your new dog fully emerges. Give him your time.


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