Does Your Rescue Dog Have Issues? Tips to Help With the Transition
Adopting a pet is a rewarding experience that not only saves the life of the pet, but enriches the life of the Pet Parent. Remember, no pet whether he is from a shelter, a breeder or elsewhere is perfect. Challenges including potty training, obedience issues and medical expenses can crop up after the adoption. Here's the good news: these challenges can be resolved. Here are some tips to help you through some common post-adoption transition issues:
1) Before you adopt, be sure the time in your life is right for adding a new furry family member. Then be committed to making it work. Allow yourself time to work out whatever issues arise.
2) Be sure to weigh all the options in order to select the pet that fits best with your schedule, lifestyle and abilities. You may feel sorry for that cute West Highland Terrier with diabetes at the local shelter, but are you prepared to follow the strict diet and injection regimen? Or would the Golden Retriever with no known ailments be a better choice? Speak with an adoption counselor and ask them to help you find the right pet for you.
3) Remember you are not alone. Shelters and rescue groups are full of people who love animals and want to help you succeed with your new pet. Most have experienced adoption counselors and behaviorists that can help. They are one phone call away and a great place to start when issues surface. If you do not get the support you need from the shelter where you adopted your pet, try calling another rescue group in your area. They have a networking system in your community that can help, and these animal lovers do not care where you got your pet.
4) Try not to blame the shelter if an unexpected health issue crops up. Many shelters have vets on staff that do cursory exams on their adoptable pets, but most shelters don't have the budget to pay for more exploratory, diagnostic examinations. They depend on the patience and kindness of "rescue-minded" Pet Parents who are willing to be responsible for their adopted pet’s care. Most adopted pets are healthy and happy, but diseases such as kennel cough have a 5-7 day incubation period and may not surface until you have taken your new pet home. Some kennels will offer to provide the medicine to treat this common ailment, so be sure to ask for help. Other health issues may not be discovered until the pet is in a home and can be monitored regularly. For instance, bladder infections that can occur in female dogs who "hold it" too long because do not want to urinate in their kennels can be hard for shelter staff to spot in a kennel situation.
5) Realize that behavioral issues are also hard to spot, especially if the pet came into the shelter as a stray. Owners who turn in their pets may not tell the whole truth when they surrender their pet. Also behaviors change in the home as the pet overcomes fear and becomes more confident and playful. The scared, sweet pup in the kennel may be a ball of fire and energy at home! In short, shelters can only provide so much information even with the best intentions, so try to be patient. What can be helpful is to call the shelter and explore what experts or trainers they available to help you.
Trish Spencer is founder and executive director of Boxer Luv Rescue in Phoenix, Ariz.