The New Rescue

Posted by kjd
Aug 6, 2010
In the past, owner give-ups have tended to be younger dogs, usually under a year old, who became too much for their owners. They had little or no training, may not even have been house-broken. A puppy for the kids that's no longer a puppy; the summer dog, not needed now school has started. The cute jumper that's grown enough to knock us over. It didn't take long for these young dogs to move into and and adjust to their new homes. With proper training, they became fantastic dogs.

Now, we see older dogs coming in. They are well-trained. Their owners love them and are happy with them. But the job is gone; the house is gone; the money is gone. Maybe the new place doesn't take animals. Often, there just isn't money to buy food for everyone. Sadly, with tears, the owner realizes the only real hope for their beloved pet is a new home. These dogs come into the system confused and upset. When will my family return for me?

Once re-homed, they seem to fear losing it again. (My Thor, after 6 changes in under three months, was depressed for a year.) My Sunna is working through what causes changes: 1st it was being near other people too long; then going into a new house; now, it's the handing over of the leash. After more than ten months, she is still not positive this is a forever home! I think trevort's dog is another example of this new rescue.

Much of their weird behavior is coping behavior. Thor would steal food, mostly bread, and hide it. He rarely ate what he stole and we never punished him for it. When the depression stopped, the food-stealing stopped. If these were children, we might think these were magical practices: Hide bread, stay here beside the bed -- do these things and I won't be sent away again.

Obedience class is excellent for these dogs. They shine. Their new owners shower them with praise. The class helps build their confidence in their new situation. Good instructors will notice if the owner is pushing the dog beyond its comfort limits or, equally bad, letting the dog get away with everything.

I think it takes these dogs longer to become comfortable members of the household. OTOH, their issues appear to be more psychological than related to obedience, which can be easier on the new owners. (The puppy tears up your couch, the "new rescue" hides food in it.)

That's my take, based on my tremendous experience of 2 of them!

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Aug 6, 2010
Hi kjd,

You are right about older dogs being end up at shelters these days.

I recently places 3 owner-surrendered over 6 year old dogs to very nice families. One of them, Rosie, was surrendered at least twice as a result of 2 divorces! I fostered her twice during the last 2 years. Her present owners (a couple who are going to get married next month!) are very very happy with Rosie and they just love her dearly. They are also giving trainings that Rosie never got before. Rosie has become a mature and settled dog now. She also lost 10 lbs that she put on due to the last owner's negligence.

Another owner surrendered dog was living in a car for 7 mos because the owner could not afford an apartment. He was also overweight. However, his new owner lives on a 12 acre lot in Newberg Oregon.

The other old dog was a very shy dog, that was always hiding behind her sister dog that the previous owner got for her. They lost jobs and had to give up both dogs. I took them and placed them with two different families. Claire, the timid one, is now building her confidence because there is no Lacey, her little sister, to hide behind. She has to stand on her own feet.

As kjd says, obedience trainings are really helpful, not only for the dogs to learn commands, but even more for building the dog's confidence and the bond between the dog and the new owner much quicker. I am all for dog trainings too