You’ve made the decision to welcome a new member into your family. You’re excited, and rightly so! You are about to have a whole lot of new fun and beautiful new love in your life, and that is a wonderful thing. But before you jump in with both feet, take some time to think about what would make a dog a good fit for your family and lifestyle. Try these tips to help with your important decision, and congratulations!
1.Consider your family’s needs. It’s so easy to get caught up in that baby’s deep, soulful eyes and beautiful, sleek coat, and forget that though she only weighs a few pounds now, she is going to grow! And in rescue, we often don’t know much about the puppies’ parentage, so we don’t really know how big they’ll get. You need to consider your family members, your activity levels, and previous experience with animals before you make the important decision to bring someone new into the mix. Do you live in a small apartment or a spacious house? Do you have elderly relatives who live with you who might be knocked over by a rambunctious teenage dog? Do you like to spend a lot of time outdoors, playing sports? Or are you more of a chill on the couch with a book type? Do you have small children, or do you plan to? How much outdoor exercise space will your dog have access to? Does the foster of the puppy you like consider him a good first dog, or a better fit for a more experience owner? All of these are important considerations and should be discussed with family members and, if applicable, the foster parent.
2.Consider your current pets. It’s absolutely possible to have multiple pets, even of multiple species, cohabitating peacefully. All it takes is a little planning. If you have cats and you want a puppy, you need to make sure that the puppy you want has been cat-socialized. If you have dogs in your home, it usually works best to bring in a young puppy who will naturally come in at a submissive position, aware that he has to abide by existing rules, rather than an adult who might have her own ideas about how things should work, which can lead to dog fights. Best practice is to let the foster of your prospective adoptee know about your full home situation and ask if she has any recommendations. (btw, Lee Shore’s adoption application has a space for you to talk about current pets, so we’ve got you covered!)
3.Don’t fall prey to breed bias. People often think that they know for a fact that a golden retriever is just right for them. Or a Maltese. Or a beagle. That breed has the right personality. It will grow to the right size. It will have the right energy level. You’ve done research. Your friend has one. It’s the right choice.
The fact is, dogs are individuals. Just because you adopt a dog that is the same breed as your old one, does not mean that the puppy you get will be anything like the dog you think you want. Two puppies in the same litter might even have completely different personalities.
What to do instead: Read the puppies’ descriptions, and then talk to the foster parent. They are the ones who know the puppies best. They’re the ones who will be able to say, “This one is very playful and high energy, and this one is more quiet and cuddly,” or, “If you have someone in your home who has a risk of falls, maybe you should consider an older dog instead of a baby.” Fosters and animal rescue experts know the dogs they work with, and they can make the best recommendations.
4.Make sure everybody is on board. Before you bring a puppy into your house, you need to discuss it with everyone in your house and make sure that the are okay with it. Talk about it and come to an agreement, not only with spouses and family members, but also with roommates if applicable. Everyone should be aware of the associated work and costs and their roles in covering those responsibilities
5. Be sure to have a training plan. One of the worst things you can do is adopt a puppy with no plan for training him. Puppies are babies. They know nothing, and they need guidance, both from other dogs and from humans. Lee Shore works hard to make sure their dogs receive proper human and dog socialization as long as they are with us, but once they leave, the rest is on you.
Your puppy, if she’s under five months old, will probably need to be housebroken. He might need to practice walking politely on a leash. She will need to learn basic commands like sit, come, and leave it, not just for convenience’s sake, but because if your puppy runs into traffic, or tries to pick up something sharp or otherwise dangerous, these commands could save her life. He also needs to learn basic manners to make him manageable so that you don’t have to bring him back in a year when he’s out of control.
It’s okay if you don’t know how to teach these important skills, but if that is the case then you should hire a reputable trainer who will teach both you and your dog so that the two of you can have a long, happy, healthy relationship.
Adopting a puppy is a wonderful thing. You are not only saving a life, but you are also helping the rescue to save more dogs in the future, and setting yourself for a lifetime of love and joy. Follow these tips, and your experience should be a great one.
Leeanne, a 7-year-old family pet, was in desperate straits. Her family contacted us with a plea for assistance. Living paycheck to paycheck, their pet situation had spiraled out of control. Leeanne came first. Three years later, a pedigreed German shepherd dog was added to the family. Some cats came and went. Last June, after 7 years with no pregnancies, Leeanne had 11 puppies, and working hard the family placed 9 of them in homes. Then at Christmas a tea-cup poodle joined the crowd. Now they had 5 dogs, some cats and Leeanne was pregnant again! Finally, Leeanne wandered too close to the animal-aggressive shepherd, and was severely mauled. Now they had passed the point where anyone knew what to do.
We are working to help stabilize this family’s situation. They have agreed to give up the 2 six-month-old puppies. They have agreed to give up LeeAnne’s new litter, which will be born any day now. They have put LeeAnne in foster care with us, so that the puppies can be born in a safe environment and we can tend to LeeAnne’s medical needs. LeeAnne will be spayed as will all her pups. We will be discussing spaying the other family pets.
Remember, friends of animals, that adorable baby will need to be spayed or neutered, have immunizations, heart worm treatments, and flea and tick meds. This family has seen the error of its ways and is working to amend its situation. Help us spread the word to spay and neuter and to love our animals through preventative care.
*Post has been updated to include photographs of Leeanne with her new babies.*
Wednesday 1/4/2018 Our new girl, Ginger, was left to starve in an abandoned house filled with horrible aggressive rats, and she had a litter of puppies to defend. It was awful. God bless our rescue friend, Mary Leigh, for going into that torture chamber to get Ginger and her surviving babies out. It takes great courage to agree to go into a home unescorted to find a starving dog. First-responder rescue folks take a lot of risks and see things that weigh on the heart.
Thursday 1/5/2018 Ginger is doing well on day 2. She is still shaky and confused, but we are getting to know her and helping her to feel better. The first 24-48 hours of rescue are about decompression. Ideally by the end of two days, our new dog is relaxing, feeling rather full of food and maybe even a little bored. We frequently know little or nothing about the critters who come to us, except that life has been pretty hard for them. We want them to feel that there are no bad surprises in this new place. Food is generous and comes pretty often. There’s fresh water whenever wanted. Nobody is loud and in-your-face. Life is slow, predictable and pleasant. If things are going well, we might do a gentle dog and cat assessment, just to sense how that is going to go. But mostly, it is about recuperation.
Ginger has been on a walk every 2-3 hours. She has food and water. We are regularly throwing her a chunk of cheddar cheese just to be friendly. She is housed right next to her babies, so she can have a break from them, but also see that they are well.
She is acting like a loving dog. She allows a collar, leash and coat to be put on and off. She walks well on the leash. She has been so easy, she has met our resident cat, Tallulah, who has not left for her adoptive home yet. She has been introduced to several calm on-site dogs as well. She has done great. She appears to have good dog, cat, and people social skills so far.
Her body is debilitated. She is very underweight and has little muscle. She’s pretty bald also. She will need to take time to recuperate, physically and mentally. Soon she will need to see a vet for a check up, but is 15 degrees here right now. She does not show signs of illness. She is eating and drinking, reasonably active for her condition. Barring medical symptoms, we will wait for next week, when it is supposed to be 40 degrees warmer. By then she will be a bit stronger too. So far, so good…
Sunshine’s family abandoned her and moved away. Afterwards she was injured, probably in an animal attack, and her injuries became infected. She had wounds on her face, legs, body and her tail bones were stripped of flesh and exposed. She had detached muscles in her haunches as well. Poor little girl was terrified and in severe pain. Her plight was posted to Facebook by people in her neighborhood and our rehabilitation coordinator watched her story as we hesitated due to the size of her probable veterinary bill. Our doors had only been open for a few months and the bank account was very slim. On Friday, August 4, 2017, when it became clear that none of the local rescues felt able to take her on, Sunshine went home with Paulina. Her first stop was to Foothills Animal Clinic in Forest City, NC. God bless our local veterinarians who provide buckets of reduced cost care to these helpless creatures (and at great stress to their own personal finances).
Sunshine rested at home with pain medicine and antibiotics for a weekend. She had a warm bath to rid her of fleas and clean her wounds. She was scheduled for amputation of her tail on Monday. Her surgery went well and she was on the road to rehabilitation. Her need for rehab was substantial. She needed a long time to heal and she needed a longer time to recover psychologically. At first, she only could relax in her kennel. Sunshine was not too happy being around other dogs and needed lots of time and exposure to safe situations. Her TAIL WAGGED for the first time on August 12th and we celebrated for her.
Paulina's dogs are trained to help traumatized animals to recovery. They will ignore an animal who sends out signals wishing to be left alone and are tolerant of animals who wish to play, but have poor dog social skills. Sunshine slowly learned to be around other dogs. She slowly felt comfortable out of her kennel, then out in a fenced yard. She had a few physical setbacks along the way. Her confidence had to be built little by little. Nowadays she is a happy, healthy little dog.
Sunshine came to us August 4, 2017 and is only now being listed for adoption. Lee Shore Rescue has stood by her for 5 months and we will be with her for as long as it takes. This kind of rehabilitation costs quite a bit. Any help is appreciated, even $5.00 helps. As you make your plans for the New Year, and Sunshine has hope for her new year, please donate!
Joy Shanahan is a student at Appalachian State University with a passion for community service. She can be found in the dance studios at ASU or researching helpful animal tips for Lee Shore.