By Scott Hunt
The Dog Grumbler
SO you want to be a dog owner? Perhaps you’ll adopt some poor creature from the pound and save it.
Perhaps you should avoid this column. Then you can say it wasn’t your fault when you have to give the dog away. After all, it would be a “rescue dog” so you were just trying to do the right thing.
You could explain that you did everything you could for the poor creature – put it in a big back yard, gave it lots of expensive dog food and toys to play with.
You were just giving the poor creature a chance, it simply wouldn’t respond to the great life you provided.
Except you didn’t. You most likely did exactly what its previous owner did. You would be avoiding the one thing the dog was missing — understanding.
If you want to be a hero and acquire a rescue dog, you will likely be getting a dog with problems.
These problems will most likely have resulted from the previous owner believing that all that was needed was kindness — measured in human terms.
I believe the greatest problem for modern dogs is people who studiously avoid learning from those who know.
I believe they do this as a cop-out — so they can say it wasn‘t their fault.
If on the other hand, you are preparing to adopt a “rescue dog” and are still reading, here are some things to consider.
The size of your back yard means nothing.
Your dog will happily spend time in any place where you are — especially if you are doing something you consider interesting or important.
The most important thing your rescue dog needs is to be with you.
Chances are its problems stem from being left alone, probably with lots of toys and dog food.
More than anything your rescue dog needs to be your companion. It needs time and consistency.
Wolves became dogs by choice. They chose to be our companions and helpers in exchange for our leftovers.
We humans have found lots of ways for dogs to help – hunting, herding, security, retrieving, pulling sleds, finding things by smell, seeing for us, hearing for us.
It’s a long list, but it has never included being a toy, weapon, status symbol or fashion accessory.
You can make up your own stuff. Your dog will happily try to do anything that involves being with you.
This is not to say it can never be left alone, but time alone must be minimised, especially early in its life with you.
Remember too that there is no fast road to recovery for a confused, heart-broken dog.
You need to patiently involve your new friend in your routines, calmly correcting its behaviour consistently until it learns that not all humans are heartless and unpredictable.
You need to expose your dog to well adjusted, well behaved dogs repeatedly.
You need to be patient, just as you would if you were raising a pup as its first owner.
When you see a well-behaved dog, don’t ask, “What breed is that?”.
Ask, “How does your dog spend its day?” Ask if it always behaved so well. You may be surprised by the answer.
Or you could read any of the myriad books on the subject.
You could google “the Dog Grumbler” and find my articles online.
By all means save a dog but don’t compound the mistakes of its previous owner — it deserves better and will reward you richly given the chance.
They always do. They always have.