When you take your dog out, whether it’s for a walk around the neighborhood, or a trip to the dog park, or to run errands in dog-friendly stores, do you have your dog’s back? Do you support him in any way you can? Do you expect him to behave perfectly at all times?
What about when you’ve newly adopted? How quickly do you expect the new dog to behave perfectly? To fit in to your home, your routine, your life? Especially if it’s an adult dog, do you adopt assuming they will be perfection? That they will automatically be everything you want and expect?
You have probably guessed where this is going, but if you haven’t I will explain…Pace has been returned. Now as a disclaimer, this is not meant to be a judgmental post. It is more about expectations that humans have of dog’s. Promise. So, here’s the story….
I took Pace to his adopters’ house on Tuesday. Everyone was very excited and happy. I went over the paperwork, which includes vet records, brochures we have from local trainers, & other doggie businesses, as well as informational things all dog owners should know. I said, stressed!, how important it was to allow Pace two weeks to settle in. I reminded them that Pace has most likely never been an inside family pet. Everything will be new to him. The first two weeks should be relaxed, all about creating a bond between him and his new owners. I even suggested getting signed up for a training class, as this is a great way to bond, and Pace could use the obedience training…he’s super smart, but again, most likely never had a committed owner that worked with him. I personally taught him how to sit, so what could a previous owner have done? Not much, obviously. Anyway…we went over the importance of using a halter because of Pace’s strength, keeping him on leash at all times, using a crate when not being supervised in the home. I finalized the adoption, said goodbye, and went home.
Two hours later I got a call from the husband. He sounded frustrated, said that Pace had “marked” in the house about 4 times, including across their dresser. He said that this wasn’t going to work out, they weren’t at the stage in their lives where they want to potty train a dog, etc. I explained that this is not a potty training issue, but that I would do some research and talk to the LHR president for some suggestions. It sounded like the decision was already made though, and that Pace would be coming back. Still, I talked to Angela, and did lots of research. I emailed the adopter a very long message about the importance of allowing a dog time to settle in, reasons why a dog marks in a new setting (insecurity, being unsure…), and ways to make it stop. Everything I found assures the reader that “marking” is a temporary issue. So I forwarded all of the info I had that night…
Wednesday came and went, with no contact. Maybe this was good news? Maybe they realized how important it is to allow the dog time?
Then Thursday morning came, and I got the phone call. He thanked me for the email, and said I was right. The “marking” stopped. He said they had a great day and night with Pace, took him out for walks, spent time with him. He said what a good dog Pace was, and so smart. However, the wife had taken Pace out for a walk that morning, and he got away from her. (How? I’m not sure.) He ran into a man and a rottweiler and “confronted” them. This scared the wife, and made them realize that Pace was just too much for them, too strong of a dog, basically. He seemed to sound remorseful, said again what a great dog Pace is, and arrangements were made for the return. Pace is now back at his foster’s, settling in, again.
I try my best not to judge. Or to be mad. I will always want a dog to be returned, rather than in a home where he is not wanted. But again, I ask…what do we expect from our four-legged friends? How quickly do we expect a dog to settle in? We should be taking into account what their past was, thinking what they have been through, what their life was like before coming into our homes. We should be thinking of ways that we can have our dog’s backs. How we can make them feel safe and secure; how we can strengthen a bond with them; how we can show them that we are the good guy and that they can trust us. Patience, routine, and training is SO important when getting a new dog, no matter the age. These three things are what will create a lifelong relationship between the dog and the owner. I can’t stress that enough. Dogs are not perfect. Neither are humans. Expecting them to be will only result in a failed attempt of a life together.
*Pace is a 2 yr old, Australian Cattle Dog mix. He is active and strong, sweet and loving. He is good with other dogs and kids. Pace is adoptable through Last Hope Rescue, in Tallahassee, FL. He is neutered, up to date on vaccines, and micro-chipped. Adoption fee is $125, and transport within FL can be arranged. Please share if you know anyone who might want to show Pace what love, commitment, and patience is all about!!