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Posts Tagged ‘rescues’

Dog Adopters: Stop focusing on that picture and focus on the match

March 1, 2014 28 comments

Sad Looking Chocolate LabIn a Suzanne Clothier seminar I attended last year, she shared a video of the first meeting between a man and a dog he wanted to adopt. She asked us to watch the dog’s body language as the man interacted with him.

It was pretty clear throughout the video that the dog was uncomfortable with the man’s interactions with him. The dog wanted more space, the man wanted less. The dog was happy to sit at his feet, the man wanted him to sit right next to him. The dog wasn’t into hugs, the man wanted to snuggle and hug away.

It was evident that the needs of dog and man did not match. They were incompatible. But, as Suzanne shared later, the man was still set on getting the dog. He couldn’t see that they weren’t a match because he had already fallen in love with the dog’s picture. He had already envisioned his life with this dog. It never occurred to him that the dog in the picture might not be a match for him or his lifestyle.

Fortunately, Suzanne and staff were eventually able to convince him not to adopt the dog, but from what she said, not without some serious convincing.

I experienced something similar recently.

Like the situation I mentioned above, the potential adopter (a great candidate!) had fallen in love with the dog she had seen in a picture. In her mind, she had saw them going on walks and visiting friends. She wanted a dog that would cuddle and be silly and play with her.

What she wanted a normal, well-socialized dog.

Man and Dog Lying on FloorUnfortunately, she had fallen in love with a picture of a former puppy mill dog. This was a dog who had never been on a walk on a leash before, who still had to be caught or herded inside the house, a dog that was a huge flight risk and not likely to socialize with strangers very easily. Definitely a mis-match.

It took some convincing, but eventually the adopter was able to see that the life she had envisioned with this dog would not be the life she would get. Changing the image of what she had in her head with a more realistic one allowed her to see that it was not a match. Reluctantly, she made the decision not to adopt that particular dog. A good decision in my opinion. Shortly after this she did find the “right” dog, a dog who was a much better match and I hear that both are very happy together.

I share these stories because I think there is a lesson here for all of us. The lesson is not to stop taking adorable pictures of adoptable dogs. (I am all for taking better pictures of dogs to help get them adopted – the cuter, the better in my book.) It is a reminder that a picture is only the first step. It is a way to get you interested in a dog. It is not, however, a good indication of how the dog will fit into your family or your lifestyle. Understanding the dog’s personality and preferences are just as important as understanding your own.

Yes. Fall in love with that picture, but then spend the time getting to know the dog and find out whether the dog’s personality and preferences really match your own. Is the dog too active for your lifestyle? Or are they not active enough? Does the dog prefer to cuddle with you or not? And, is that okay with you? Does a dog like other dogs or does he prefer to be an only? If adopters and rescuers spent more time asking themselves and their adopters these questions, I think the chances of a good match would increase. After all, isn’t the goal here to save a dog and help a human?

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The ASPCA opens a new center to help fearful dogs

March 14, 2013 17 comments

Various 2008 018Yesterday, I saw a story announcing the opening of a new center dedicated to helping fearful dogs. The center, located in New Jersey, is a project being led by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Now dogs who have lived their whole lives in puppy mills or have come from a hoarding situation or were victims of animal cruelty will have the chance to get help meant just for them.

If you have ever had a fearful dog, one who has had little exposure to the world or has been abused, then you know that rehabilitation takes time. Unfortunately, time is not always an option for them. Many are euthanized because the amount of time and dedication (and money) it takes to work with a fearful or traumatized dog is more than most shelters can give.

This center is a source of hope for these dogs and the people who rescue them. The Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, N.J. will take dogs from shelters across the country as well as those that come  those animal seizures involving the ASPCA. Their first guests, Malamutes, are coming in from Montana in the next few days. These were the dogs who were seized from a breeder charged with animal cruelty (I wrote about them a couple of months ago).

Dogs who come to the center will stay on average about 6-8 weeks, but they are not putting a strict time limit on their stay. As anyone who has worked with a puppy mill dog knows, sometimes it can takes a year or more before a fearful dog can really function in their new environment. Knowing there is a center, and people, focused on helping these dogs is really encouraging. I hope that what they learn can be used to help more dogs in the future. I suspect Debbie Jacobs from FearfulDogs.com could tell them a lot, but I am hoping that more will be learned from their work that can be used by rescuers across the country to help dogs like these, like Daisy and Cupcake.

I’ll be watching to see what they learn. How about you?

Crazy Cat Lady? No…Crazy? Maybe!

September 9, 2009 Leave a comment
Nick-My Cat

Nick-My Cat

When one is an animal lover and a rescuer of animals, you tend to invite chaos into your life. At least, that’s always been the case for me. My life is full of madcap adventures involving animals. Whether raising a baby robin from hatchling to adulthood or rescuing a stray dog on the street. I’m always finding myself in the “thick of things” when it comes to animals.

Like the time I tried to save two dogs from being run over on a busy street near my mom’s house. Not only did they follow me (in my car) to my mother’s house, but they also jumped into my trunk (with tails wagging and smiles on their faces) as I was removing some dog food. By the time someone had come to collect them, they had already made themselves at home in my mother’s house! That was after sneaking past me as I was going inside. As a side note, I also had a cousin stop by in the midst of this chaos and as he was leaving I locked myself out of the house!

Or, the time I offered to foster an unsocialized Dalmatian that had been brought into the shelter with his 2 brothers and sister. I decided he would be less overwhelmed if I confined him in a spare room while I went on a quick client appointment. Big mistake. By the time I came home Pixel had not only shredded my blinds, but had torn them down completely. He also shredded a blanket I had left for him. It turns out that Pixel did not like being left all alone, and after going through several blankets and bins of shredded newspaper, I discovered that Pixel was completely fine if he was allowed to be with my dog Daisy. Who knew?

Then there was the time I decided to take two cats into my home. Who could have known that I was highly allergic to cats? Not me! I couldn’t just give them up after offering them a new home could I? Allergy meds really do work wonders when you need them.

I think perhaps my craziest adventure happened just within the last two weeks. And, all of it happened within the first three hours of one day. In that time period: my client’s dog raided every treat bag in my car that within his reach (did I mention he was taking a drug that made him very, very hungry?), I almost ran out of gas because I ran into unexpected road construction which required me to drive out of my way and waste a lot of gas, I was pulled over for speeding trying to get to a gas station before I ran out of gas, and I saved a dog’s life after he was nearly hit by two cars (right in front of me) on a busy single lane highway.

As you can probably guess, my family enjoys hearing about these little adventures at our holiday gatherings. Yep. They think I’m crazy. But they also know that I am VERY passionate about animals (of all kinds). I may not be the crazy cat lady, but I just may be crazy!

So what about you? Do you have any crazy animal or animal rescue stories of your own?
Come on! I can’t be the ONLY one here. Right? No really. Please share your stories. (Pretty please?)

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