Archive for June 2017

When It Doesn’t Work Out

June 28, 2017

Last month I wrote about the need to give a rescue pet a fair chance at learning to live in your home. This time I want to talk about the other side of the coin, what happens when, for whatever reason, you find you are not able to keep your rescue. As much as we think it’s unfair to the pet to have to give up on him, sometimes it really is the best choice.

Some years ago (well, more than just some) I trial-adopted a six month old puppy that had a number of issues working against her. To begin with, she was born to a stray that had been living on her own for a long time, and whose puppies had experienced no human contact until the little family was rescued from the woods. This puppy had one eye that was deformed, and she was also deaf. While she had no aggressive tendencies, she was very frightened (understandably so) and spooked at every little movement. For the short time we had her, she rarely came out from behind the furniture, and then only after much coaxing, to eat or for us to take her outside. In that time, she didn’t learn to trust us at all.

When I agreed to take the puppy, I truly thought we could overcome her problems. To be perfectly honest, we could not. Perhaps had I consulted a dog trainer we might have been able to work with her, but at the time I didn’t feel I had the skills or the ability to deal with the puppy’s issues. After much consideration, I finally returned her to the person who had rescued her in the first place. I’d never done that before, and I cried all the way home. I blamed myself for giving up and worried about what would happen to her, although the rescuer assured me she would keep the puppy herself. Still, I felt guilty but also relieved, because the concern over how to deal with all the problems had caused a lot of stress in the family. Then I felt guilty for feeling relieved!

The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes this happens. Sometimes we find the pet we have brought home with such hope for giving it a new life just does not fit, does not adjust, and there is stress in the house that is certainly not conducive to a happy home for anybody. Sometimes we have to admit we made a mistake. My advice in such a situation is to recognize the problem and find a solution before letting it go on too long. It is better to admit defeat than to accept the stress and allow the pet to remain unhappy, too.

If you adopted from a shelter or rescue group, you probably signed a contract/agreement to return the pet if you weren’t able to keep it. Honor that agreement. If you bought from a breeder, you should contact them and ask their policy. Some breeders will take back a pet bought from them. For tips on how to handle the situation, you might check out this link: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/pets/dog-care/rehoming-what-to-do-if-you-cant-keep-your-dog . I confess this many years later that I still feel some regret and guilt for giving up on the puppy, but it truly was the best answer for her and me and the family.

On a lighter note, congratulations to the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan on breaking ground for their new shelter. While construction will soon be underway, the capital campaign continues. For all details, please visit their website: www.humanesocietyswm.org

 

Rescue Me

June 28, 2017

 

We’ve all heard that rescue pets are the best. That when given a second (or third or fourth) chance at having a forever home, an animal will be so grateful they will shower you with their conditional love. While that may very well be true, what you don’t often hear about are the many challenges that can go along with adopting a pet second (or third or fourth) hand.

After we adopted Ace the tenacious terrier, we realized this was only the second time we had brought a dog home that we had not gotten as a small puppy. Even though we’d adopted rescues before, they were very young and had not already been imprinted with another person’s living habits. While at a little over a year old Ace was still a puppy at heart, he had lived somewhere else, in another home, with another family. He was eager to please and just wanted to be loved, but he didn’t have a clue what was expected of him. Nor did we know what he had experienced in his former home. Unlike a younger puppy, he wasn’t a blank slate that we could write only our expectations on. He was house-trained and only had a few initial accidents inside, which was a big plus, and he was used to staying in his crate (maybe too much); but we quickly learned there were things he feared and things he’d not been exposed to (like the outside world). Walking on a leash was new, as was staying outside his crate when we were not home. The past few months have been a process, but he is a smart little guy and he’s learning. He’s also found a place in the hearts of his new family.

So if you are thinking of adopting a rescue pet, please be aware there may be a learning curve, and don’t let your expectations rush the adjustment that may take a little or a lot of time. Realize your new friend has had a previous life that was probably very different from the one you are offering, and don’t be in a hurry to give up.

Remember this is “kitten season,” when many litters come into shelters or are taken in by rescue groups. Donations of kitten food and litter are always most appreciated. But of course the best way to help the situation is to spay and neuter our own cats. They are capable of reproducing at a very young age, so if you have recently adopted a kitten, contact your veterinarian about the best time to have this done. It is truly a gift to your pet.