Tag Archives: adoptions go bad

Match Game – Adopting the Right Dog Part 2 — Adjustments and Accommodations

Sometimes, there is that moment when your eyes lock onto an adoptable dog’s eyes and there is an instant bond just like in the movies but that is a rare occurrence.  For a majority of the animals in a shelter you are going to see a sometimes shut down, scared or anxious dog.  It’s loud, often smelly and, did I mention, loud in shelters.Woman Rubbing Noses with Puppy

Then there is the cuteness syndrome…there are reasons we ooh and ahh when we see a cute animal or human baby.  When we see those cute little faces, our brains are washed in a wave of dopamine which is the same chemical reaction we have when we fall in love, have sex or use drugs.  So, the cuter the dog, the more our brain tells us we need that animal. Big eyes, round, bulbous foreheads, wrinkles of skin…all these trigger this thing in our brains that makes us feel good and want to protect these “babies.” Some of the cutest dogs I’ve known have been extremely fear aggressive and are not a good match for anyone but the most experienced dog handlers and guardians.

So, as hard as it might be, we need to fight off the dopamine and cuteness factor when choosing the right right dog for the family.  When you find the right dog for you, I guarantee he will be the cutest looking after a while.  All human babies, to me, look like Winston Churchill with their big bald heads and rolls of fat but human instinct of the moms always say their baby is the cutest.

One of my friends, Laurie, went out to shelters one weekend looking for a Yorkie or Silkie Terrier or something that was scruffy and fluffy.  She came home with a large, red, short-haired dog that looked like a Vizsla or Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. and has since adopted three more largish, red dogs!  The point is that looks are really only a small part of that bond you will establish with the dog in your family.

This is the advice I give people who are visiting a shelter to choose their next family members:

  1. Look at less subjective things about your new family member rather then how cute he is.
    1. Energy level – I always use the example of a border collie who is adopted by a family of couch potatoes.  Neither dog nor humans will be happy in the situation.  The dog wants to work and herd whatever it can.  The people want to lie on the couch and watch sports or movies…not participate in them!
    2. Sociability – if you are looking for a furry companion that loves all people and dogs and can join your family on outings and vacations then you probably don’t want the dog cowering at the back of the kennel who is terrified of all around. But, please, keep in mind, that shelters often are scary and a dog is not himself there.
    3. History with Children – if you have kids or grandkids then you want a dog who can be around them and interact with children.  Some dogs are so frightened by children that they shut down so you want to make sure your new dog is comfortable and unphased by the lively antics of a kid!
  2. Ask if the rescue or shelter has a “Foster to Adopt” program.  This allows you to see how the dog lives in your environment and allows the dog to show you their true selves.  But there is generally about a two-week “honeymoon” period when bringing home a new dog.  This first two weeks is where everyone is on their best behavior and not quite accustomed to their new situation.  Humans aren’t habituated to their new family member and the dog is getting adjusted to this new life.  As an adoption counselor I want to make sure my adoptions stick so if there are any variables in the situation like other pets, disabled individuals in the home, etc. then I suggest we try a Foster to Adopt first.  One couple came to adoptions and fell in love with a lovely pitbull mix we had available for adoption.  They let me know that the husband had done several stints in Iraq with the Army and is now suffering from PTSD.  We knew that the bond was already starting to form with him and this young girl pup but we all wanted to make sure that the daily stress of keeping a dog wasn’t going to make the husband’s PTSD worse.  I’m happy to say it was a match made in heaven and they are all living happily ever after.
  3. If you can take a few days off when you get your new dog everyone will be happier! There are a few days needed for adjustment period for both you and your new dog. You can ease that adjustment by taking a few days off to acclimate your new best friend to your house and your rules.  We see a lot of new puppies in the spring/summer time and that’s a great time for adoptions during vacations!

Bringing a new family member into your home is not something that should be a spur of the moment event.  You want the best family member you can get and your dog wants the best family he can get!  Do your homework and you’ll soon have a great new member of your family.

Need advice on training, dog selection, behavior or dog sports?  Hit me up and maybe your question will be my next blog!  –the Kritter Keeper

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Rescue Trauma…Rescue Drama

I love my work with my rescue, Mostly Mutts Animal Rescue and Adoption, and all the foster dogs that come through the Litt Palace of Puppy Love.  Sometimes, though, we get a repeat visitor because a Foster To Adopt (FTA) doesn’t work out but I want to tell you a story about a magical little rat terrier mix named Flop.

I'm all ears, says Flop when you talk to him

I’m all ears, says Flop when you talk to him

There is a great group of volunteers called the Friends of Cobb County Animal Shelter (FCCAS). Where I live in the Northwest suburbs of Atlanta, all of the county owned and run shelters are kill-shelters.  Mostly Mutts primary reason for existence is to pull animals from these shelters, fix them up (we get a lot of older or sick dogs) and get them ready for adoption and organizations like FCCAS help to get the word out about the residents of the shelter and help around the shelter with dog walking and socialization.  They had posted a picture of this funny little dog with big ears and a patch of toffee-colored fur on his side in the shape of a heart.  As soon as I saw his picture, I knew Mostly Mutts had to pull this dog out of the shelter and before I could even make the suggestion, a note went out to the volunteers looking for fosters for some of our newly pulled pups.  Flop was among them.

Oscar, our long-term foster, was suffering a heartbreak.  He had fallen in love with a Chipperke (Chihuahua/Schipperke mix) named Jazz (I’ll write another story of their love affair later).  Jazzypants, as I was fond of calling her, found a new wonderful home and left the Litt Palace of Puppy Love.  Oscar was so sad so I was looking for a new playmate for him so Flop came home with us one day after an adoption event.

Very soon after coming to the Litt Palace of Puppy Love, I noticed a rather obsessive/compulsive trait about Mr. Flop.  He became like a creepy, stalker boyfriend and would never leave my side.  If we sat in the big chair, he would lay across the back with his snout entrenched in my hair and snurffle my scalp. He was obsessed with my hair and scalp and would take every opportunity to smell my hair!  It was a little creepy so he became the foster known as Creepy Stalker Boyfriend (CSBF).

The first night CSBF stayed at the LPPL I awoke with the odd sensation that I was being watched and when I peeked one eye open, there was his little face staring at me as he rested his head on the same pillow on which I was resting my head! The title of CSBF really matched this dude!

Flop was adopted a few weeks after coming to the LPPL by a single lady and her two children. She immediately sent pictures, changed his name to Jimbo (to me exudes CSBF qualities to me!) and we thought it was a good adoption.  A few days into the adoption, she sends an email saying she’s having some behavior issues with him and since I was his foster and I am a trainer, Mostly Mutts forwarded the email to me.  I responded back and made some suggestions to her.  A couple of weeks later, she sent me a very strange email that she had to return Flop. My response was to give her the phone number to the Executive Director and ask her to cal.  We never heard back from her so we assumed she had worked out her issues.

Then the other night I could not sleep and I was looking at Facebook.  I saw a post from the Friends of Cobb County again and amazingly they had a little a picture of a little rat terrier mix boy with a heart on his side. Flop_ccacCould Flop have a brother?  Surely it couldn’t be him…he was just adopted out!  This dog was an owner turn in and his name was Buster not Jimbo.  Well, just to be sure we checked Buster’s microchip.  It WAS my CSBF!

So Flop is back at the LPPL for a little bit…he met a family today that might be a good fit for him with a little boy to call his own.  Once a Mostly Mutt…always a Mostly Mutt.  We take care of our own.