It’s hugely rewarding giving a new home to a rescue dog. So don’t believe the stories that all these dogs have behavioural issues – many are looking for love and company too.
Dogs are brought to animal shelters for a lot of reasons. Sometimes owners are unable to cope, they haven’t thought about the responsibility involved, someone in the family has an allergy to the dog or there’s been a marriage break-up or bereavement. These dogs deserve another chance, why not give them one.
Why choose a rescue dog?
Puppies are cute, but they also demand a lot of time and commitment, and that’s not for everyone. So rescuing an older dog, even one that’s a couple of years old, may be much more appealing to someone who’s not quite so fit to be out walking all day, doesn’t want their home chewed or is hesitant to commit to looking after a pet for the next 10 or so years. And many of these rescue dogs will already be housetrained and know some basic commands.
Where to find your rescue dog
Dogs of all shapes, sizes, age and temperaments are found at animal shelters around the UK, so there may be somewhere close to home that can be your first port of call. Or look for ads in shop windows, a local newspaper or ask a vet – someone in your neighbourhood may be looking for a new good home for their dog.
Perhaps you want to rehome a retired greyhound (www.retiredgreyhounds.co.uk) or a guide dog who hasn’t quite made the grade (www.guidedogs.org.uk). For older dogs, see www.oldies.org.uk. Just remember rescue dogs don’t always come free – it costs £100 to rehome a Dogs Trust dog.
Choosing the right rescue dog for you
Before heading to an animal shelter, think carefully about what type of dog you want and can look after properly. If you’ve only got a small garden, try not to fall for a sob story and come home with a Great Dane. Get advice on suitable breeds too.
Some get on better than others with children, some breeds are known for being hyperactive, some are more susceptible to ailments. Consider all this before you fall in love. Download Battersea’s ‘What to think about before getting a dog’ at www.battersea.org.uk. Rescue centres also have a responsibility to match the right owner with every dog, so you’ll have to go through a selection process and perhaps have a home visit.
Find out the dog’s history
Try to find out as much information about the dog’s past as possible. Even if it came to the rescue centre as a stray, it will have spent time with kennel staff or at a foster home so ask about its nature and personality. See if it understands commands, learn about its diet, and whether it gets on well with children, other dogs and cats. And while the saying goes ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, they can actually end up amazing you.
Take time to develop a bond
Remember how it feels moving into a new home? So give your dog time to adjust and become familiar with its new surroundings – it may also be suffering from loneliness, anxiety or even grief. However, also get it used to your routine from day one, and the house rules. If the dog has a warm comfortable bed and is being fed, loved and well looked after, it will soon settle in.
Be aware though that some everyday items, such as a rolled-up newspaper, may provoke a reaction from a mistreated dog. Keep alert, recognise any potential triggers and you’ll see a wagging tail in no time.