Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Trials and Tribulations to Dog Rescue


As many of you know we have a new puppy in our home. We have taken in rescue puppies many times and Pal was no exception. We are guessing that Pal is about 5 or 6 months old. He had a real hard start to his little life. We do not know all the details but can pretty well guess that who ever had him threw him in a crate most of the time and never really tended to his needs but for food and water. Two young ladies drove up one evening to a KOA campground and placed him in the attendants arms, turned jumped back in their car and drove off. The attendant thought he might belong to someone in the campground so he proceeded to see if he could find his family. With no success he took Pal back to his mom’s house. They tried for nearly a month to locate his owners with no luck. The condition in which Pal came to them was not the best condition for any young pup. His hair was a matted mess and his toe nails were way too long which led to very sore and tender pads. They took him into their groomer and had him all groomed up, which met cutting off all his long Maltese hair.

We took over from there. I knew the minute we went to pick him up, that someone had tried to spend some time with him, he saw the collar and leash and just went nuts wanting it put on him. When I took him out to the car to put him in his carrier, he slipped right in just like he was at home. Some of the things we noticed when we first got him, was that he did not know how to communicate his needs, such as when he was hungry, nor when he wanted to go out side. All he wanted to do was curl up in our laps and shake, then sleep. He didn’t even know what it meant to play. He didn’t chew on any type of chew toy or bone, nor did he attempt to play any sort of game or rough house like most puppies do.

This was a difficult time for Selena because she expected a puppy who would chase her through the house, play “tag-of-war” (as she calls it), fetch, or something. We told her she was just going to have to be patient which believe me was easier to say then for her to do. Over the course of the few weeks we have had him, I began to work with him daily, first and foremost on trusting all of us here in the house. Learning to communicate his needs, by carefully watching him, and praising him when he went to his dish for food, or the door. Now he does these things with no praise, just taking comfort in knowing that we will listen and meet his needs.

Once we got the trust issue taken care of, I started working with simple commands, sit, lay down, come and stay. The first 4 came fairly easy and he added a few tricks along the way that he could do like roll over, dance and walk on his hind legs. He finally figured out stay, so now we will proceed with working on not running out the door just because it is opened. He has now discovered the world of play and is learning to play fetch, “tag-of-war” and running around with Selena. He also has discovered his world of chew toys and how to tease and torment Selena.

If you ever decide to do a rescue dog do your homework on the breed, especially if your going to have it around children. Make sure it’s disposition and size is going to fit into the home with a child. You want to make sure that this breed is one that gets along with children, and even then every dog is different. Try to find out as much information as you can about the dog’s condition, behavior, the circumstances for which it needs to be rescued, weigh the facts, and consider what type of behaviors you might see from the dog’s abusive past or neglect of care. I always say that doing animal rescue is a lot like foster care of children, they all come with luggage and with work, love, and time they may never forget what they have gone through, but will learn to overcome all the pain.

For us it has worked out, now with constant discipline of Pal to correct any bad habits he is trying to form, and break him from right out tormenting Selena all the time, the road is smoothing out. It can be very rewarding but a lot of hard work taking in a rescue dog at any age. I do believe that this time around taking on this venture has been even more frustrating at times with having a child in the home, but it has totally been worth it when we have seen the two of them grow and understand each other.

Pal goes in for his first Vet appointment today, hopefully we will get more of an idea of his age, and some other helpful tips as to what areas the Vet still feels he needs some work on. It is my hope that Selena has learned a lot during this time, and continues to learn to love, enjoy and respect all animals.

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  1. What a great post on how to bring a puppy into your house.

    And "tag of war," that is AWESOME. Mac still doesn't play that game all that well.

  2. A poor puppy would never survive in our house. But, the older children enjoy taking our elderly neighbor's dog out for walks. It's been a learning experience in itself.

  3. This describes the challenges and rewards of taking a rescue animal very well. My friend has adopted a rescue animal, and it hasn't been easy. Sonny is so attached that he just can't bear to have his owner away, and he still has to travel for work quite a bit.

  4. Sounds like all of yoru hard work is really paying off, well done :-)

  5. Rescue dogs are very challenging, but so rewarding. Great post.