This is a new feature to appear on our blog; in this series we are going to be talking about rescue dogs. A lot of owners looking for a new family member toy between whether or not it is best to get a puppy from a breeder or to rescue a dog looking for a loving home.
We may be slightly bias as to which one we personally feel people should choose as all of our dogs have been rescues, but we want to explore further about why rehoming a dog can be a great option and hear about past experiences from rescue dog owners.
Our first interview was with the lovely Jan who has been rescuing dogs from various outlets for over 30 years. Jan has a large amount of experience in the field and has fostered dogs, home checked for the RSPCA and has also taken on dogs with behavioural problems and health issues to help rehabilitate and bring them back to normality. Jan mentioned just how rewarding it is seeing lovely dogs (often strays) transforming into such happy, healthy, fulfilled pets.
Tell us a bit about your rescue dogs Jan…
“Sofie the Smooth Coat Lurcher came from Wood Green in 2010. She actually chose us as we were visiting with our dogs and she jumped into the van having met my lot. After checks, she was allowed to come home! She had a terrible coat (not WG’s fault) but she allowed me to groom her gently. She fitted in from day one and is a real sweetheart. I had no issues with her at all. She is loyal, loving, friendly to all and has a cheeky side but has no issues. One of the easiest dogs I’ve ever had! Kizzy the Roughcoated Lurcher has been naughty from day one but not really in a bad way. Again she is loving, loyal playful, very cheeky and yet she had, by the sounds of it, a terrible start. Tied up outside and found by a lady who rescued her but couldn’t keep her. Lastly, Eddie the Saluki. He had issues from the beginning. Being a Saluki he’s highly sensitive and whatever had happened he wasn’t going to forget in a hurry. He adores us, again I can do anything with him: hugs, squeezes and he is so faithful. However despite our best efforts he doesn’t like others touching him; he moves away fearful.”
Kizzy on holiday
Why did you decide to rescue a dog rather than buying from a breeder?
“Our first ever rescue dog came from a hunt kennel back in 1970. We were looking to have a dog but someone from my husbands work asked if he knew anyone that could take this Beagle as it wasnt integrating into the pack. Of course it wouldn’t, it had been a pet. We took Jasper on, sadly not for long, he had a fit whilst having an op to mend his ripped ear done by the other hounds. In answer therefore I’ve never chosen a rescue as such, they have chosen me. Always been somewhere helping where there have been rescued dogs or donating bits. I have had dogs from breeders and they have medical or behavioural issues. So many people seem to think a rescued dog will have issues and problems, but a dog that has come from a breeder can equally develop issues and turn out the same.”
We agree that a lot of people seem to think rescue dogs will come with a range of issues; whether that be physical or psychological. With dogs you have rescued that have had problems, how did you go about rehabilitating and working on them?
“Over the years I’ve learned a lot by going to different training, reading articles, talking to others – especially those at the top of their game. I’ve been going to Crufts and Discover Dogs for years. This was something I did on a regular basis. Companion shows and fun shows to socialise. Never put a dog through something they are not happy with though. Nervous dogs: One Greyhound hid in bushes when I took her on so I left her, turned my back and said nothing. She eventually decided after an hour I was OK. Sat on the floor with a treat and she gingerly came towards me. Never ever had to force a dog let alone use any other harsh methods. Always looking and seeking new methods. Dominant dogs: Well again, the old things like go before them in a doorway, offer a tidbit if they won’t get off the furniture. I’ve never been bitten. Even when I judge (and I have done a fair few) I approach the dog from the side, never lean over a dog. There are so many things to try. Boisterous dogs: Need to work off their
Sophie watching the birds
It is always good to have some background knowledge and information about different types of dogs and their behaviours before going ahead with owning one. Having a basic understanding about training, diet, exercise levels and costs is crucial. How about bringing a rescue dog home with another dog already present?
“With a new dog coming into house make sure you introduce to existing dog in neutral surroundings first. Walk together to see reaction. When taking them home, mine travel in cages so straight away they are getting to know each other. Then the resident dog goes in with you first. Always work with babygates and crates, it’s so much easier. I always have the new dog with me when I’m not keeping an eye on them together. Feed seperately to begin with. With new dogs, most have never been groomed. Take it steady. Use the back of brush first, some calm stroking. First lesson, allow the dog to get used to it’s new surroundings and don’t overfuss. For bad travellers we went down the natural route of giving Ipecac (a homeothpathy pill). With a Whippet that was sick as soon as we got in the van it worked a treat. Of course anything would be seen by our wonderful vet if needed.’
Is there any particular behavioural problem you feel is associated with rescue dogs?
“Separation anxiety is one I guess most people will worry about. I’ve never had a problem. Leave dog in another room, preferably the one where you are going to leave them. Leave for seconds. Gradually build up. Don’t always allow them to follow you everywhere. Leave an item of clothing (not your best gear haha) that smells of you. Socks but never slippers unless you want your best shoes chewed. Plenty of good quality toys like kongs, tuffy toys – nothing that can be destroyed. Have the radio on and exercise if possible before going out. Make a den – I have old canvas cages open and my dogs love them. On your return ignore for a few mins and greet when you’re ready.”
Great advice Jan, thank you. Separation Anxiety is a common problem but easily prevented/solved with the most simple tips. What about exercise and stimulation, how have you provided that for your rescue dogs?
“If you don’t want a stir crazy dog then definitely exercise and play with them. I’ve always played with my dogs, however many I had at once. Different toys so they don’t get too attached to one; this alleviates possession and guarding. It keeps them motivated and interested! Different types of games: fetch, find it, pully. A stimulated dog working off it’s energy is a happy pooch! Like being taught tricks.”
In conclusion Jan, why should people give a rescue dog a forever home?
“To sum up, out of the many dogs over the years that I have had the pleasure to own, give these dogs time and you will be rewarded with an animal that seems to know you’ve tried your best for them. I have had many, many fabulous dogs, loved them all, cried buckets when it was time for them to leave this planet. I’ve shown some of them at companion shows and have many trophies and rosettes a bonus, but so much pride in how they were in the beginning and how they have turned out. All rescue dogs deserve a second chance.”
Sleepy boy Ed (Saluki)
Thank you so much for your time Jan. We absolutely loved talking to you and learning more about you and your very lucky rescue dogs. We truly hope this helps people’s opinions on rescuing and inspires more people to experience this rewarding procedure. You do an absolutely fantastic job and are a real inspiration. Keep up the amazing work!
If you have any questions regarding all things dog related or would like to tell us your rescue story and have it featured on our blog, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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