Making the decision to welcome a dog into the family is never an easy one… You think it through, chat with family and friends and consider what impact a new addition will make on your life. Can you provide exercise, routine, stability and of course give the correct care to the dog? If the answer is yes to all these then it’s probably time to start doing your research. After all the recent public awareness surrounding puppy farms you are cautious of getting a puppy and so feel that maybe a rescue dog would be the next option. Rescue a dog that maybe hasn’t had the best start in life and so can have that 2nd chance thanks to someone like you.
Rescue dogs come in all shapes and sizes, pedigree breeds, mixed breeds and dogs from overseas. We are surrounded by many well established dog rehoming centres like Battersea/Blue Cross/Dogs Trust as well as many lesser known organisations. I could probably predict that nearly every town in the country will probably have some kind soul doing their best to rescue and re-home dogs. If you were considering a particular breed then the kennel club have a breed rescue list so you can look up the organisations that work with the specific breeds. So what now ?…
First and foremost you need to decide what type and size of dog you would want. I always ask my clients ‘what do you like to do at the weekend?’ If you are a stay at home type trying to catch up on your housework and box sets then a working type dog would not be for you. However, if you like to go out and stomp for miles over the countryside, then a more active type would suit you. Also the type of property you live in would influence your decision. It would be no good considering a giant mountain breed type dog if you live on the top floor of a 5 storey apartment complex.
So once you have decided what type would suit then you can start to search…..these days most people start their search on-line. Many rescue centres will let you go and have a look around to see who they have there. Others may only let you go by appointment once you have completed a comprehensive questionnaire to ensure that you would be suitable. The rescue centres work tirelessly to try and match the right dogs to the right people to give the dog the best chance of finding there forever home. They don’t want to see the dogs returning time after time as things haven’t worked. So as much as the forms and application process can seem intense it is for good reason.
When buying a puppy we may go with a checklist of questions to ask about the start they have had and we would want to meet the parents to gain an idea about temperament. However when we get a rescue dog we often don’t know its history. This may feel like we would be taking quite a gamble. How do we know that they will be ok with our children, our cats, other dogs? Sadly the answer may sometimes be ‘well we don’t know…we will just have to wait and see’. This is often why people are put off by getting a rescue dog. Understandably they want to know that they can trust the dog and it will fit in to their family unit.
Anyone who is involved with dog rescue would have tried to gain as much information they can about their history. They would fully assess them and ascertain any behaviour/temperament issues that may need to be flagged up. They may test them with children and other animals to gain a better idea of their overall temperament. On top of this they would have had a full health check to ensure there are no underlying health conditions.
I would always advise that you meet the dog on a number of occasions and ensure that they meet all members of the family. I would go for a walk and try and see how the dog reacts away from the place they are staying. Some dogs may not show favourable behaviours whilst in a kennel situation and so can often be overlooked. Equally a dog who may appear quiet and unsociable may be the opposite once it was put in a more favourable environment. Many rescue centres actually foster their dogs out now so that they are in a home, this should provide a better temperament test.
Before you obtain your rescue dog I would already have training/behaviour help set in place. It’s never too late to learn for these dogs and there are people out there who can help you bond with your new dog. Training is great for this, one of my rescue dogs excelled in his classes and became a TV star…. Who would have thought that when he was pacing up and down in his run in the rescue centre!