This is part two in a two-part series. Read yesterday's post before preceding!
Today's post is about my experience with rescue dogs, and how they impacted me as a dog owner and as a trainer. Those two dogs, Roxie and Rule, taught me a very valuable lesson and made me realize just how far I'm willing to go for my dogs...and where my limits are.
These were difficult ones to write for several reasons. The first and foremost being that I am stubborn and don't do well with perceived failure. The second being that this is a very hot topic in the dog community, with "the opposing side" being the much louder and more prevalent voice. I welcome discussion and experiences shared on this post, but please keep it civil. This is solely my opinion and experience.
Growing up, we always had purebred dogs (a Lab, a Dalmatian, and several Mastiffs), and we always had them from puppyhood on. When I got my own first dog, it made perfect sense for me to get a purebred puppy from a breeder. When I was ready for dog #2, I went the same route.
By this time I was up to my eyeballs in the dog community, and the rescuers were the vast majority. To be perfectly blunt, it's the cool thing to do. It's trendy to rescue, and while I'm certain most go to a shelter or rescue for additional reasons (wanting to save a life, wanting an adult dog, whatever the case may be), there's definitely a sort of hero-worship around those that rescue. I always have been and always will be pro-breeder, so I stayed quiet when it came to anything relating to where my dogs were from. I never saw myself wanting a rescue, or a mutt for that matter.
Enter Roxie (if you don't know who that is, click here). I fell completely and utterly in love with that dog, even though I didn't originally plan to keep her. You all know how that ended. It was without a doubt one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.
Feeling a gaping hole left by Roxie, I wondered down to our local shelter to "just look". Not-long story short, I found a dog that seemed like a good match for all involved, and brought home Rule. For the first two weeks, everything was fine and dandy aside from some mild separation anxiety and resource guarding, something I was confident I could manage. I worked with her extensively, and within those two weeks she made dramatic improvements. Then one day while out in the yard, my worst fears, so fresh after Roxie, came to a terrifying head. Suffice it to say that there were several moderately deep punctures, and Rule had to be pried off.
I refused to even consider working with that. I contacted the shelter, and agreed to foster her and work on her problems until a more suitable home could be found. I put her new found owners in contact with an out of town behaviorist, and they're still working with her. I'm in contact with them still, and she's flourishing with her new family.
I've had two experiences with rescuing, and neither one has been pleasant. One could have been a dangerous situation, and one could have resulted in a dead dog. I know that not all shelter dogs will have these problems, and it may not be the majority. Despite that, I can't help being gun-shy.
I would be open to reducing again, even though I haven't had the best time with it. Perhaps I'd be more willing to work with a dog that was in a foster home and they were upfront about any problems, rather than a county shelter without much info on their dogs.
I'm not saying that all rescues have issues, or that they can't be good dogs. They can be, as I'm sure you all know! I'd happily take in a puppy, or an older small dog. I'm not certain I'd get an adult dog larger than my small dogs, simply for safety's sake. I would be happy to foster, though!
First and foremost, my duty is to my own dogs. It is my job to keep them happy, healthy, and safe. Rescuing seriously worries me with them. The unknown of whether or not I'd be bringing in a dog with serious emotional baggage terrifies me. Not because I don't understand how to work with issues, or because I lack a heart. I'm able to deal with it, but I'm not willing. And that's okay. My life and my dogs don't mesh with a dog that needs constant management and extensive behavioral rehabilitation. I applaud those that are willing to do it. For me, I'd rather look for a dog that fits into my needs and lifestyle.
What are your thoughts? Have you had a dog experience that's made you leery of trying again?
- Dachshund Mommy