- 7 years ago
- Wedding: September 2010
Lately I’ve noticed that there are a lot of people on the bee that are looking to adopt a new pet. There have been lots of questions about what breed to get, whether to get a puppy or older dog, uncertainty and questions about adopting shelter / rescue pets, and training issues. So I thought it might be fun to share our rescue pet stories- how they ended up in a shelter, how you picked them, special training or attention you gave them, or anything else you can think of to help others decide if adopting a pet from a shelter or foster home is the right choice for them.
*Note: this thread is not meant put down someone’s choice to adopt a pet from a pet store, breeder, etc. I know this is a heated topic on these boards. I just happen to love heartwarming stories of pets that get a second chance! I also think that it will help to straighten out some misconceptions and fears about adopting a rescue pet. Hopefully sharing our stories will help people make the best choice for their families and help save the lives of pets that end up in shelters.
We have three pets that I’d consider to be ‘rescues’ of some sort.
Her story: She was never in a shelter, but she was rescued from life as a barn cat when she was a kitten. Fortunately the lady who took her in trained her to use a litter box, so I didn’t have to worry about that kind of training. She’s spunky and kind of a brat, but she’s a lot of fun and I can’t help but love her.
Breed: Husky/Lab/ Retriever Mix
His Story: My husband found him eating garbage on the street. He was clearly starving and had been on his own for awhile. He had a collar (with no tags however), and we’re not sure whether he was abandoned or ran away. He was very friendly, so my husband took him in, fed him, and took him to the vet to nurse him back to health. My husband put posters up everywhere, but nobody claimed him, so he decided to keep him. He was very well trained already, and took just a short time to get him completely housebroken. He truly is the sweetest dog. I don’t especially like larger dogs because of experiences a child, but he is great. He only really barks when there’s someone at the door, and he pulls a little when walking him (which we’re trying to work on), but other than that he’s such a good dog. I’m pretty sure that he was abused wherever he came from, however. He’s extremely wary of people who are holding objects and runs away scared. One night when I first moved in, I came home to find our bathroom garbage scattered everywhere (he doesn’t normally do this, but was likely acting out because of a new person in the house). I walked over to him, and asked “Opus, what did you do?” in a stern voice, and he proceeded to get very scared and wet himself. I’m guessing he had been beaten in the past for things like that. It hurts me to think that anyone could ever hurt such a wonderful dog.
Her adoption story: I’ve always really wanted a Chihuahua. Maybe it was watching too many taco bell commercials as a kid, but I just think they’re the cutest dogs. Our dog Opus was having some separation anxiety issues and we felt he was just lonely in general. Watching him play with other dogs at friends’ houses and the dog park, we felt like he needed a friend. I’ve always believed that rescue dogs are the way to go, plus we wanted a dog that was full grown and wasn’t too fragile to play with Opus right away. We looked at the local shelters, but there are not many smaller breeds to be found. So we looked online (adoptapet.com and petfinder.com) and found a bunch of Chihuahua/ Chihuahua mixes. Each dog had a profile with information about their personality, age, health, etc. We ran across Callie, who was said to be shy but very sweet. One thing we were worried about when looking at Chihuahuas was that some of them are nippy, not very good with kids and other pets, and bark a lot. So shy and sweet seemed like it would meet our needs.
We emailed the foster agency, and were sent back a 5 page application to fill out. At the time it seemed a little crazy- I felt like adopting a child might be easier. We had to detail everything out- from how many hours a day we worked, to how we anticipated training her, to if we were to die unexpectedly who would take care of her. Once we sent in back in, we scheduled an in home visit to meet Callie. Her foster mom brought her to our house, and put her in my arms. She immediately started licking my face, and I completely fell in love with her. This shocked her foster mom, because she had been on numerous home visits with other families, and was terrified of every new person she met. I then took her in the house, and set her down, where she ran around and sniffed our other dog. Her foster mom explained that she wouldn’t let her go to a home without a big dog because she noticed that Callie bonded with people through other dogs first. I was surprised to hear that she had been on other visits and that even though she desperately needed a home, the foster agency wouldn’t let her go until it was just the right fit. Thankfully, she felt that we were a good fit. Her foster mom took her back home so we could think about it, then we went to pick her up for a weekend ‘trial run’. She was very very shy when she came home to us. The only place she’d let us touch her was if she was on the chair in our living room. She camped there for several days. She wouldn’t eat or drink from her bowls, so I had to hand feed her on the chair. She didn’t want to be touched to go outside so she had some accidents in the house. I think my husband was about to give up on her, but we had a few moments that first week where she’d open up just for a little while and give me a lick and I just knew that things would get better. Fast forward 7 months now, and she’s a completely different dog! She’s still shy around new people, but around us she’s bold and constantly demanding attention. She sleeps under the covers in our bed right next to me. I like to call her my ‘Callie alarm’ because as soon as it gets to a certain time, she’s in my face licking and trying to get me up. She’s seriously one of the best things that has ever happened to me (along with my husband of course!).
Callie’s back story: We found out that Callie was a puppy mill brood dog. When we got her, she was only a little over a year and a half, and had already had two litters of puppies. Apparently she was producing puppies that were too big (people only pay high prices for tiny Chihuahuas. She’s about 11.5 pounds, which is quite large), so they took her to a shelter to get rid of her. Thankfully, the rescue organization found her and sent her to live with her foster mom until she got adopted by us! I don’t think she was ever abused, but she likely lived in a cage her whole life without much human interaction. She was never housebroken, so that is something we’ve had to work on. It breaks my heart that she spent her first year and a half of life without being shown love and care. She’s truly the sweetest dog ever and has so much love to give. I couldn’t imagine life without her.
Training Issues: Dealing with a shy dog can be pretty difficult. At first we tried to do things with her away from our other dog as we thought that would be less stressful. Wrong. For instance, when we tried to teach her how to walk on a leash, she didn’t get it at all until she saw Opus doing it. With him there to demonstrate, it took about 3 seconds for her to figure it out and she’s been a great leash walker ever since. She’s still not fully potty trained, but as long as we walk her at the same time everyday she doesn’t go in the house. We keep a puppy pad on the floor in case we don’t get home on time. She doesn’t really chew or get in the garbage or anything, but she does like to steal my underwear and parade them around the house now and then. But how can you be mad at a dog running around with underwear in her mouth? So funny.
Adoption process: Overall I was very pleased with adopting through a rescue agency. All of the questions and visits ensured that we found the right dog for us. It makes me feel great that we were able to give her a second chance and a better life. I feel like Callie has done more for us than we could ever do for her.