Adopting A Rescue Pet

| 2/1/2013 5:10:35 PM

our family 002

Adopting a pet is a big decision, bigger than most want to acknowledge. All of our pets (family members) are adopted from a rescue which is in no way meant to demean breeders who work diligently to keep breed lines intact.  Breeders are a unique and wonderful brand of people who strive to preserve blood lines of certain dog breeds. I have great respect for legitimate breeders but this topic is about abandoned, unwanted or abused dogs.  

Whether it is from a breed specific rescue or a shelter or possibly a stray on the streets that you take in it is likely going to require some patience, love and training to turn that adopted pet into the family member you want. Many people think when they plunk down their money and adopt a pet that the pet will fit right into their family plus meet all their expectations. The last part is worth repeating - ‘meet all their expectations.' Sometimes that works out but most times that is not the case and that is where the training, love and patience comes in.  

Our three current rescue dogs are all prime examples. Bozwell came to us having been picked up as a stray in the Midwest and he had some medical issues from being loose and on the streets - too numerous to list here. He was young and had been neglected, which is probably how he ended up on the streets. He opened the chain link gate and sought his freedom from apparent lack of human attention. His prior owners did not even initiate a search for him for over six weeks. When we adopted him he lacked training and was wild and exuberant. With basic obedience training and loving patience over the months he has fit into our family and become a very settled and independent boy who is now a good example for our other two German Shepherds. As a family member I would grade him perfect. He is a leader by example and not by dominance or appointment.

Then Sarah came next. She came from a farm environment and from carefully observing her behavior we  observed she had likely been previously abused and probably kicked and beaten. We were told she and her sister were rescued just prior to being shot by her previous owner. When we would call her she would shy away with her ears down and tail tucked to run and hide.  She was fearful of every noise, movement, sound and gesture. She was a very challenging girl to deal with due to multiple issues. It has been over 4 years of patience, love and nurturing that has finally allowed her to again be confident of herself. When we would have guests she would run and hide, not showing herself until they left. Now she is again confident and friendly and loves to greet people. Note that it took 4 years of patience and love to draw her out of her protective shell. To rehab a rescue takes months and sometimes years as in Sarah’s case. She is now the most loving girl I have ever known and her personality is simply marvelous. Her sense of humor is revealed more each day. It has been worth every bit of time invested and it is wonderful to witness and behold.

Next came Echo our most recent adoption.  He came with major trust issues.  He was super cautious of everything and everyone and very guarded. He would let you pet his head but that was about it. He is also a talker which some could wrongfully interpret as a low warning growl when in fact he simply likes to talk. It has taken nearly two years working with him to restore his trust in humans and other dogs. What has slowly evolved is a boy who now wants to be with us every minute, and a far more loving and obedient boy can’t be found. Again the process was slow and patient but he didn‘t like being aloof either. His trust has improved dramatically and steadily. It has taken patience, love and more patience to resolve those trust issues. He is now a perfect fit for our family and enjoys his new life with his brother and sister. All three have different personalities that mesh with us to make a completed picture.   

Patience, patience and more patience and tons of love and understanding of their needs and not our needs will provide a family member that is to be proud of. Don’t expect instant results for behavioral issues like are sometimes seen on television.  We are not all behavioral dog specialists and instant results are not always possible. Seeing our family members slow measured progress is exciting to witness. There can also be the accompanying health issues that sometimes occur with the adopted pet and they can be expensive to cure and treat. I could run down a litany of illnesses that we have dealt with in our current family members. If your expectations are right and you want your adopted pets to be healthy and well rounded you need to be prepared for the cost and time required to achieve that.  

In summary you need to be prepared to train, and patiently and lovingly help your new best friend deal with any behavioral and medical issues that may have been inflicted upon them before they were adopted. They can’t  always tell you so you will need to observe them carefully to detect issues and resolve issues so they may live a more complete life.  Food are water are required but tending to all the needs of your pet require the above listed items from my personal experience.  

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their family  members go to:    

Bruce McElmurray
2/5/2013 10:43:46 PM

Thank you for your kind words. I visited your blog site and you are to be complemented too for your rescue efforts. We just lost our Border Collie mix after 15.5 years last September. Our prior GSD went blind just before he died and we were his guide person. Our bond was so tight that he trusted us completely to guide him around without any hesitation. Helping our four legged best friends who are blind takes extreme patience and tremendous diligence. My hat is off to you..

Carol McElmurray
2/5/2013 10:01:30 PM

and so Bruce says to me, SIT ON THE SOFA AND TAKE A PICTURE. He handed me his camera and then tried to get all three dogs to sit...and face me. It was like that old saying about "herding cats"!!! As you can see, two of them wound up on the sofa with me!

2/5/2013 7:07:03 PM

As the proud human to a pack of seven rescued dogs, (one deaf, two blind and one blind and partly deaf as well as others with "issues") I was thrilled to read about the wonderful things you have done with your rescued dogs. You have made some excellent points and how true it is that it isn't easy but with lots and lots of patience and love, you can see the transformation. No, it's not for everyone but for those of us that do it, it is SO rewarding!

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