Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pooches: On Not Giving Up

 As I've become more involved in rescue, I've been learning more about the reasons people 'give up', or decide not to adopt the dog.
I've heard of people giving up because the dog won't pay enough attention to them.
Or sometimes the dog pays too much attention.
Some people want a dog that's less active.
Then some people give up because the dog isn't active enough.
At the some time, I'm continuously amazed at the lengths people go to sticking by their pooch. Back in the day when we were single girls together, I had every reason to give up on Miss M. Though she charmed me into taking her on, once I got her into my home I quickly realized how Hyde-like she really was. It was always her favorite game, mid-walk, to grab her end of the leash and play tug. Even when we were crossing the street. More than half of our walks ended with me tackling her in the grass to help her calm down. Which was kind of embarrassing to see my neighbors as I was laying on my dog in the middle of the median.
Not to mention that she had to be entertained every minute; I would actually have to plan out events because she would become so anxious and bored in the house.
But eventually, I realized why we stuck together.
But there are so many more amazing stories than Miss M's. Pooches who are fearful or anxious or reactive. Families who dutifully explore training classes, rework areas of their home, and spend time to make it work for their pooch.
Now I'm wondering, is there just a type of person who isn't willing to give up? Or is it just that they found their "One" and will do anything for them?

27 comments:

waldobungie said...

I remember thinking for a split second after I brought Turk home from the shelter, "I don't know if I can do this." He was peeing all over the house (undiagnosed UTI), chewed up everything in sight, and had this generally crazy look in his eye that wasn't there when we were at the shelter. Through lots of work, rules, and training, he turned out to be a wonderful dog. It took a lot of effort on my part, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I learned so much about the lengths we should go to for the people/animals we love.

PS - I am glad you stuck with Ms. M too....she is such a good ambassadog!

mayziegal said...

I think you might know that I thought about giving up on Mayzie - for about 3 seconds. It was after a particularly challenging and frustrating day about 2 weeks after we adopted her. In tears, I told my husband that maybe we were in over our heads and should give her back to rescue. My husband said simply, "She's ours now. We're not giving up on her."

After that, I think it was just the determined mindset of "We are NOT going to give up on her" that got us through. And wow, am I ever glad that my husband didn't succumb to my moment of weakness. Mayzie IS "the one" for me and I shudder to think about all the amazing things I would've missed out on without her around.

I DO think, however, that there are some people and dogs who just don't fit, no matter how hard they try. And in those cases, it's probably better to re-home those pets to a place where they will be loved and appreciated for who they are.

MayzieMom

Life_With_Alfred said...

We probably would have given up on Alfred if we knew he had some other safe place to go, but I couldn't bear to think that if he didn't live in our home, he wouldn't live at all. If a few years of less-than-ideal living for M and I could make the difference of life or death for Alfie, it was totally worth it.

However, I think a mass number of people today have learned to give up on most things that are unpleasant or worn out rather than put the time and effort in to try and fix them. If not pets it could be clothes, homes, family, marriages...I wouldn't doubt you see a correlation between families who give up their pets and end up with divorces. :-\

The Heartbeats said...

Oh boy, I was tempted so many times to give up on Calhoun. He was a total stubborn ass when he was a pup, a teenager and still sometimes now that he's almost 6. My neighbors witnessed me walking a dog as he did the "alligator death roll". We have often sat in the road, on the side of the road while I sobbed and he did whatever the heck he wanted to do! But alas, he's my boy! So glad he's still with me and I didn't pull out ALL my hair! Makes the relationship so strong. NOTHING comes between me & my Bubba!

Mamma Heartbeat

Luv My Rosie said...

I think it takes a strong person to take on a pit. When I got Rosie, she was all over the place. Peeing, chewing on things. Training helped a great deal as well as a daily dog walker to help break up her day. But the day I came home to see she dug a hole in the drywall down to the studs, I thought this is it. She is destroying my house. Learning to deal with her firework and thunderstorm anxiety has helped a great deal. Now, when the 4th comes around she stays with her Aunt who watches her 24/7. You just have to be patient and always expect the unexpected. Give up on Ms. Rosie?? NEVER. I can't imagine life without her. I even got a new car so she could be better accomodated on car rides. When was the last time someone did that for me?

mrajcox said...

I totally got chocked up when I read this post. Our rescue, Lily, was challenging beyond compare. She hated her crate with a passion (once she literally moved it from behind our sofa, got ahold of the area rug under our ottoman and pulled the whole thing into her crate through the tiny slots. Yeah. The whole thing...in pieces). She did pounded at our windows when we gave up on the crate. She tore through the wall at our backdoor. She lunges at all other dogs while on leash. And she has eaten more books/shoes/dish towels than I care to count. BUT...you both know she is the whole reason I work in rescue too.

When we adopted, we knew we had to be in it for the long haul. It was a commitment for her life time and all that stuff was just...stuff. Underneath that was a fierce and loyal companion who loves everyone she meets. She is my running buddy and my body guard. She loves children and looks like she is grinning all the time. And I remember that other adopters may have given up on all her crazy...and missed all her awesome.

So, I think it is about the person. About what they are willing to strive for to reach the ultimate achievement. There are people who run a mile and then there are marathoners. My whole life is different because I choose to be a marathoner. And for you and Miss M, I am SO glad you choose to be one too. Look at what a difference you make everyday, thanks to those body tackles. ;)

mrajcox said...

I totally got chocked up when I read this post. Our rescue, Lily, was challenging beyond compare. She hated her crate with a passion (once she literally moved it from behind our sofa, got ahold of the area rug under our ottoman and pulled the whole thing into her crate through the tiny slots. Yeah. The whole thing...in pieces). She did pounded at our windows when we gave up on the crate. She tore through the wall at our backdoor. She lunges at all other dogs while on leash. And she has eaten more books/shoes/dish towels than I care to count. BUT...you both know she is the whole reason I work in rescue too.

When we adopted, we knew we had to be in it for the long haul. It was a commitment for her life time and all that stuff was just...stuff. Underneath that was a fierce and loyal companion who loves everyone she meets. She is my running buddy and my body guard. She loves children and looks like she is grinning all the time. And I remember that other adopters may have given up on all her crazy...and missed all her awesome.

So, I think it is about the person. About what they are willing to strive for to reach the ultimate achievement. There are people who run a mile and then there are marathoners. My whole life is different because I choose to be a marathoner. And for you and Miss M, I am SO glad you choose to be one too. Look at what a difference you make everyday, thanks to those body tackles. ;)

Jen said...

I've been blessed with a (more or less) "easy" dog. Now, an easy Doberman puppy is still a little bit like having a baby monkey: getting into things, chewing things, and as you say, needing planned projects.

I think there were times my fiance thought about giving up, but I think I only ever did once or twice. I'm glad we stuck with her, though, because at almost 3, Elka is more of a delight than a pain, and I can't really imagine life without her.

Kirsten (peacefuldog) said...

I don't know how anyone could give up on a dog, although I guess I can understand it in cases where the dog is easily re-homable and is just not in the best situation for the particular dog. In my case, my dogs would be reactive, anxious, high-maintenance, needy, and loud (Fozzie) and reactive, grumpy, foul-tempered, and loud (Lamar) in any situation, so there's not really a question of giving up on them. It's not like I would wish them on any friend of mine :)

Of course I'm fundamentally opposed to "euthanasia" of any dog who is not suffering--a misnomer for killing of animals that we find inconvenient--and can't bear the thought that an animal would sacrifice its life just because I found its behaviors hard to live with.

Fozzie and Lamar are such pain-in-the-butt men but I adore them in their complexity and their ridiculousness. Sure it would be nice to have an easy dog but would an easy dog be so sensitive? I'm not exactly an easy person, and they put up with me.

So great to read your post and the comments of others in a similar boat. What a nice community of people you've got here.

SherBear said...

Unfortunately some people don't seem to grasp the concept that a pet is a huge commitment and not just something that can be given away when it gets inconvenient. I don't know how the people who work in recieving at ACS do it - some people just really don't care. However, we also have a lot of people who are completely devestated that they have to give up their pet and they should not be judged for doing so but instead applauded for taking the right steps in doing what is best for the animal.

h(eather) said...

I think as a community we've become extremely critical of people who "give up" on dogs, but the reality is not every dog and every home is a good fit.

We've fostered a lot of dogs, and I found that I cannot deal with separation anxiety or over overstimulated dogs. It's just not something I have the mental energy for and there is nothing wrong with that.

But, for whatever reason I have patience for leash reactivity, human aggression, resource guarding, and all of Rudie's escapades... something that other homes don't have the patience for.

I truly do think it's about finding the "one" and the "fit" that works on both ends. I'm lucky enough to have found three "ones"!

loveandaleash.com said...

I used to think this issue was so black and white. I was quick to judge people who give up a dog. I still hate to see it and think it should be a last resort, but thoughtfully rehoming a dog that doesn't fit can be a great outcome -- for the dog, the family, and the dog's new family.

At the training center where I work, we see dogs all the time that the average dog owner would give up on. Dogs that are super fearful or reactive toward dogs and people, dogs that are anxious to the point of dysfunction, and dogs that act unpredictably.

I wonder if it's the combination of the nurturing spirit, a can-do attitude, and a good network of resources -- good trainers, friends who will listen, etc -- that helps people keep on going even when most others would give up.

And there's the promise of progress, too. Those who are able to work slowly and patiently with a dog, and see little steps in the right direction, find success, energy, and reward in those small improvements.

Rebelwerewolf said...

Before we adopted Mushroom, we had concerns that she and Badger wouldn't get along. We made the conscious decision that even if we had to crate and rotate for the rest of their lives, we would keep both dogs. I think that if more people took an honest look at worst-case scenarios and their own limits, they could make better decisions that wouldn't lead to giving up a pet.

My Two Pitties said...

With my pup I ended up with a bit of a nightmare puppy syndrome on my hands...like many people do when you pick out something cute and cuddly and then they grow up with a lot of ideas of what is "fun".

But I stuck with her of course and because I had to up the ante on her training I feel I have a much better dog for it! She's almost a year now and all of those high stress situations are a thing of the past:)

Kate said...

I know when I adopted my first dog I had a really tough time for the first week. I didn't consider giving her up, but I definitely second guessed my sanity when I adopted her (I second guess my sanity a lot actually, haha). Once I learned what I was doing things got easier, but it definitely took some time.

ohmelvin.com said...

I think a lot of it has to do with expectations and how unrealistic we/people make them, especially on the first dog. When people are first looking they use descriptors like 'adorable!' and 'so cute!'. No one gets giddy with excitement over the thought of 'housebreaking!' or 'chewing furniture!'. I agree that many aren't a good fit and also I think often times if the gratification is not immediate enough, it makes the commitment fade or seem much less attainable. If only we could bottle the love that occurs once dog and owner hit their grove and share it with the world. Dogs are a lot of work and there are days when you will wonder why or how to get through it...but you will and you do and it's so worth it!

colleen said...

The dog I had when I was growing up had issues: mammoth separation anxiety, for one, that was eventually, sadly, what killed him, and he bit two kids, one of them my sister. A colleague of my mom's who also works in rescue said that most people would have given up on that dog, but it never once occurred to us. He was ours. You work with what you've got. (He had many endearing qualities, too!) In my family, a dog is like a child in the sense that you belong together for life. There's no sending problem children to shelters and so it goes with dogs. We know a lot more about dogs and dog training now, so we've been able to nip a number of behaviors in the bud with my current dog and work through others, things that, had we known, we could have used to help my childhood dog, but I don't for a moment regret having that dog, imperfect as he may have been, as a childhood companion!

onedoglife.com said...

I, too, used to be very "judgy" -- anyone who ever gave their dog up must be an awful, awful person. I've since come to have a little more compassion. I don't think not giving up a dog is entirely innate, although that might be a part of it. I think it is how that person has been conditioned to consider pets -- partly in childhood and partially by what they see in the community around them. If a dog is 'just a dog', then why keep it if it jumps through your window when you leave or pees on your rug all the time?

But in a community where dogs are considered companions, and that person has access to someone who says "Hey, you have a high energy dog! Hire a dog runner and feed meals in a puzzle toy", maybe that person wouldn't surrender the dog. Again, all behavior issues are on a spectrum and some fixes are easier than others.

I've told people many times "I'm not brave enough to adopt a puppy". That often gets met with funny looks, but it's how I feel. It's hard to tell (although there are signs) how a dog's behavior might change when s/he reaches adolescence. After adoption I would feel I needed to stick around no matter what. With an adult dog, you know what their basic personality is, and what things are likely to be the biggest issues. Then you can assess if those are things you can handle or not. No mystery puppies for me!

livierules said...

I love this! I almost gave Petey back but I knew if I would it would be a death sentence. He had never lived inside before and was a very destructive puppy. But I got lucky with a dog walker and 1/2 off for Basic Puppy training. That and soup bones and time :)

Soma Pradhan said...

When I got my Gracie, I'd wanted a Pomeranian, I even had one all picked out. Oddly enough I found myself carrying a squiggly warm puppy out of a random house on the wrong side of the tracks....

And then it was love love and love, right? Nope! For MONTHS I would look at her, the chewed up sofa cushions, the 17 pairs of not-so-inexpensive stilettos, my horrendously stained rug, my roommates cat that now lived outside, and think, "what did I do?!?!?!?"

But on a fateful night {I worked as a Child Protective Services Social Worker at the time} I needed someone to cuddle with and the only little soul that was there was little monster Gucchie...

She loves me so much, it's unreal... I really don't deserve someone liking me as much as she does. Without a doubt the best thing I've ever done, had, enjoyed, loved.

PS ~ She's still a monster on the leash and finds her way into every garbage can ever created. But I wouldn't have her any other way.

Two French Bulldogs said...

we hear those reasons all the time since mom volunteers for the French Bulldog Rescue Network. NUTTY reasons
Snuggles
Benny & Lily

Mary said...

I admit that I have two very easy dogs, so maybe it's easy for me to say that I can't imagine ever giving up on either one of them. But I take the stance that once you adopt an animal, they are a member of the family for life. They have given me so much happiness and love that whatever they require in return is easy. Especially now that I have a baby and people use that as an excuse to rehome their dog, I just don't get it. Even as I was getting ready to defend my dissertation, I made time to walk them every day. You just have to commit. I wish more people would see dog guardianship in the same way as you and I.

Also, going the rescue route allows you to find a dog that fits your lifestyle. We wanted easy-going dogs that wouldn't eat our birds. Are they perfect? No, but they are dogs and you can't expect them to be perfect.

I love that you are honest about the journey you have had with Miss M because it goes to show how with effort and love, even a "difficult" dog can be an ambassador.

Faith Shen said...

I'm so blessed to have my dogs right now, because they are so sweet and playful even though they are a little bit stubborn but I love them so much, they are good companion for me :)

Dog Shock Collar | Puppy & Human Bond

Two Kitties One Pittie said...

This is a great post. While everyone told me not to get Zoe (including K), I refused to give up. And she was the right dog for us, though we 've significantly changed our schedules and priorities to make sure that we provide a good home for her. But even more than with Zoe, Stella is an example of the kind of animal most people would want to abandon. As you know, she had 2 other microchips inside her so she had owners before me. She isn't an ideal pet. She's aggressive, crabby, and sometimes vindictive. She has health problems. But I felt that I had made a commitment to her, and I wasn't going to give up, no matter how many times she pooped on my bed/bit/scratched me. I learned to love her for her own charms and quirks.

2 Punk Dogs said...

The minute I saw Maggie I knew she was the one, there was just something about her worried little face. She was so afraid of everything that we didn't realize that she was especially afraid of men, including my husband. There were a few times when it seemed like it would be better for her to go to a new home where she didn't have to deal with a big scary man every day. My husband said that "she's our dog for life", even though it’s been tough for him to have a dog that was afraid of him through no fault of his own. It has taken almost 3 years for Maggie to feel comfortable enough to play with Duke in front of him. They're still both works in progress, but we wouldn't trade them for anything.

Emily said...

It must be the person. I hear so many reasons that disgust me. A recent reason I heard was a woman who had a dog for 3 days and she wouldn't sit... really??? People insist they don't expect perfection, that they'd never return a dog and then it happens. I know legitimate things happen, but I also know people view dogs as somehow disposable. We have gone through some things with our dogs that I wish we hadn't had to learn, experience or figure out but it has strengthened our bond and I am so happy we never considered "giving up."

AJ said...

When my husband and I met the dog that would become our Roadie Rock Puppy, we were lucky enough to get to provide a place for him to crash during a long weekend. We had found him on Petfinder but we were not ready to adopt just yet. His foster had to travel for Fourth of July and was looking for a temp foster so we jumped at the opportunity to take him. What a great way to try before you buy. He had relatively good house manners (he had a habit of counter surfing), enjoyed hanging out with the family and wasn't bothered by the fireworks. Sounds great right? Take him outside of the house and we had an excited, reactive, socially uncomfortable dog at the end of the lead. He would reactive to literally everything. We survived the weekend, turned him back over to his foster and continued the search for "our" dog. Four months went by and we kept thinking back to that weekend and wondering if the dog we took in during that time had been adopted. The timing was right for us to adopt and he was supposed to be our dog.

Even with knowing the issues we would have to be tackling, we went for it with the mindset of "If he comes to our home he's staying". Turns out he had gone thru a few failed trial adoptions in those four months.

I do think there people and pups that just aren't a good fit no matter how much time and work they put into it. But like any relationship you have to work at it. I'm a huge fan of foster to adopt arrangements. It's a great way for rescues and adopters to make a good start to a solid pairing.

PS- I wouldn't trade Roadie and am so glad to have him as a part of our family.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...