Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pooches: Did you Ever Doubt?

How were you sure that the pup you ended up with was meant to be yours?
And did you ever have any doubts?
A friend of ours just adopted a new pup and while the little guy is really great, and he doesn't have any issues, she's not feeling that he was really meant to be "her dog". She had always wanted a larger dog, but the rescue thought this little guy would be a better match for her.
Though it has only been a short time, she says she doesn't feel a connection with him, and she's not sure if it's better to wait it out and see if her feelings change over time. Though at the same time she feels really guilty. She's not sure if she really is the best human for him, if waiting it out will just make him more attached, and he really does have a better family that would adopt him.
We weren't really sure how to answer, so we were curious to hear some other thoughts.
Though most people don't talk about it, I think at some point many of us have been overwhelmed and wondered if their pup is the right fit.
At one point,  I even wondered that with Miss M.
Young Miss M was a crazy pooch with a lot of energy. She didn't know how to sit still, and every minute I needed to find activities to entertain her. Several times during a single walk, she would look back at me, grab her leash and start playing tug-of-war.
She would usually win.
Looking back, I really think it was this challenge, and the time we spent working together, that strengthened our bond. I knew she was my one and we were meant to always be together.
At the same time, before we adopted Mr. B there was another pup that we almost adopted.
At the time, we knew it wasn't a good fit, but it was hard for us to say so because so many people were counting on us.
He was a nice pup and we took him into our home on a foster-to-adopt status. The rescue was excited and they kept saying how we were the perfect family for him. Miss M loved playing with him and she thought he was the perfect dog for her. But...we weren't sure he was the perfect dog for us.
He was a young dog and each morning we would be awoken to dogs rumbling, wrestling, and leaping over furniture. He needed longer walks than Miss M, and since she couldn't keep up we needed to do separate walks. We weren't sure we could live like that for the rest of our lives. We felt really pressured into taking him because everyone was so excited, and it was really hard for us to tell them it wasn't going to work out. We felt like we let everyone down and that they would all hate us.
Though in the end, that pup ended up with an even better situation (a single girl who loved going on long runs with him!) and we ended up with Mr. B who is the perfect antithesis to Miss M.
We would love to hear everyone else's experiences. How did you know that your pup was the one? Did you have any doubts? Do you think it is better to wait it out? Or to not allow him to get too attached and work on finding his best family?

How my One helped me find my other One.
Miss M's One
Admitting when it's not working out

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Liz @ The Shrinking Owl said...

This is such a fascinating thing to think about. I remember seeing my girl for the first time in the shelter; she was the last one at the end of a long line of kennels, the only quiet one among a rousing chorus of barking homeless dogs. I thought her brindle coat was beautiful (hence naming her "Bella") and asked for her to be brought out to meet the other dog I had at the time. They ignored each other. So I took a leap of faith and said I would take her. They said, "Great! She just came in today, so she hasn't even gotten processed or spayed yet. You can come get her on Wednesday."

So I did, and this strange brindle creature named Jasmine at the time was hanging out in the office with the ladies there, recovering from her spay surgery, and I drove her home. I stopped for gas on the way, and recall looking in the backseat where she just sat, looking at me curiously. She was never one to bark or bounce around excitedly in the car. She sat calmly and quietly, just enjoying the ride.

We've been together for almost 9 years now. I didn't really get to know her until about 5 1/2 years ago when I got divorced and she became an "only dog". My, how she blossomed at that time. The other dog was the dominant one, always pushing her out of the way to eat the last of her food or take her toy or get affection. Not Bella. It was like she knew that her day would come, and my, how it did. She's my best girl, my partner in crime, my riding buddy, my plate cleaner, my fuzzy bed warmer, and my best friend.

I stayed in my former marriage far longer than I should have because I was afraid she would be sad without her "brother". Indeed, the opposite was the case. She blossomed. And that's how I knew she was My Dog.

Callie's Mom said...

Absolutely!!! Sometimes I still worry that Gus could be somewhere where he is happier, but we do love him dearly and we are working through his issues. When you have a dog with "no issues" it can be tougher to connect. That bond you get through the extra training, extra time spent together is priceless. But this just means she needs to work harder to find an activity that interests them both....something to work on, play on that helps the two of them connect. My last dog had "no issues" and through his twelve years became one of the best dogs I ever had. I still miss him terribly and it's been almost three years. Don't discount how long it can take to truly bond. Relax and give yourself a chance. Enjoy your dog and give the dog a chance to enjoy you.

Pam @ herbieontherun.com said...

Our stories are strikingly similar. We adopted 12-week-old Bella (an American Bulldog Mix) 3 weeks after the passing of our Lucy. We hadn't planned to adopt that quickly, but our house without a dog just seemed so WRONG. So we started looking. We tagged several on Petfinder that we wanted to meet, and Bella just happened to be the first one we met. And also the last. We knew right away that she was our dog. After she came into our home, she turned out to be much like your Young Miss M! VEEERRRRY attention demanding and a true test of our patience. :) We decided she needed a playmate. So again we went to Petfinder. Like you, we brought in another dog on a foster-to-adopt basis, another ABD but this one a little older. Within the first two days, we knew this was NOT our dog. He didn't have any patience for Bella's antics, and since this was meant to be a playmate and sibling for HER, we had to pass him up. A couple of weeks later, we met Harley through the same bully rescue that we adopted Bella from. He was a 7-month-old APBT. The first day he stepped foot in our home, as soon as I unclipped the leash, he ran right into the bedroom, hopped up on the bed, and said, "I'm home!" There was no doubt. He was our dog too.

So, all of that to say... yes, I do believe you should rely on your gut when it comes to adopting a family member. There is a perfect dog out there for your friend, and a perfect family out there for her dog, and everyone will be much happier when they all find each other. <3

Pam @ herbieontherun.com said...

Our stories are strikingly similar. We adopted 12-week-old Bella (an American Bulldog Mix) 3 weeks after the passing of our Lucy. We hadn't planned to adopt that quickly, but our house without a dog just seemed so WRONG. So we started looking. We tagged several on Petfinder that we wanted to meet, and Bella just happened to be the first one we met. And also the last. We knew right away that she was our dog. After she came into our home, she turned out to be much like your Young Miss M! VEEERRRRY attention demanding and a true test of our patience. :) We decided she needed a playmate. So again we went to Petfinder. Like you, we brought in another dog on a foster-to-adopt basis, another ABD but this one a little older. Within the first two days, we knew this was NOT our dog. He didn't have any patience for Bella's antics, and since this was meant to be a playmate and sibling for HER, we had to pass him up. A couple of weeks later, we met Harley through the same bully rescue that we adopted Bella from. He was a 7-month-old APBT. The first day he stepped foot in our home, as soon as I unclipped the leash, he ran right into the bedroom, hopped up on the bed, and said, "I'm home!" There was no doubt. He was our dog too.

So, all of that to say... yes, I do believe you should rely on your gut when it comes to adopting a family member. There is a perfect dog out there for your friend, and a perfect family out there for her dog, and everyone will be much happier when they all find each other. <3

bigalrlz said...

Have you ever seen the documentary "MINE"? I highly recommend it if not, it sorta about what you are talking about here.

Unknown said...

When I adopted Dexter from a rescue, I just knew he was for me and I didn't want anyone else to even look at him. We brought him home and he was perfect. He never destroyed anything, was house trained, loved on anyone who came near him and just melted into our family. When a friend found a dog and said it was either take him in or he was going to the shelter, it was a different story. Cooper was a extremely thin Boxer/Mastiff mix, who was absolutely adorable. Once I took him in and started working with him, I realized he had a lot of issues and I wasn't sure what to do. He was nervous, chewed, peed in the house (and always on carpet...never hardwood floor...even on a couch once), he was very scattered and his behavior was rubbing off on Dexter, creating two very difficult dogs. I cried a lot and thought that I needed to find another home for Cooper because I just didn't think it was going to work. At the same time, I felt that I had taken him in and it was my responsibility to determine how to create a more successful atmosphere for Cooper. 2 1/2 years later I can't imagine my life without either of my dogs. Don't get me wrong, there are still some stressful days, but I love them with all of my heart. They are my children. As with human children, you don't get to pick them...sometimes they just pick you.

Mayzie said...

Did you know that my Dad didn't bond with me right away? But now we're the very best of buds! Sometimes it just takes time. But sometimes it really just won't work out.

My mom wrote an article abouts this very subject. Maybe it will help: http://woof.doggyloot.com/what-to-do-if-you-dont-bond-with-your-dog/

Good luck to your furend and her doggie!

Wiggles & Wags,

Newsboy said...

That's such a good question and something I think about often. I started wanting a dog when we were on a walk one day and came across a couple that was walking a Shar Pei they were fostering to adopt. We had a series of conversations and meetings with them. I was really taken with the dog and seriously wanted to adopt him. But the family had no interest and we didn't adopt him. It's funny how heartbroken I was for awhile after that over that.

A year later they came to me and said I should look for a dog again because they felt they were ready and we wound up with Summer and she is wonderful.

The happy ending to the story is that the couple that was fostering the Shar Pei adopted him, lives nearby and now also has two children and we see them all the time out walking and playing in the nearby park. So he has a nice home and looks very happy and they really are wonderful people.

The not so happy ending, but something that makes me think about this is that Summer does not like that happy little Shar Pei and forgets all the leash aggression training we've done whenever we catch sight of them.

Which makes me wonder. Does she know that he could have been in her place if the family had liked him?

Unknown said...

While I certainly agree that people can just intuitively know that a dog is not a good fit, I also believe in giving the situation some time. When my husband and I decided to get our first dog together, my husband had his eyes already set on an 8-week Bernese mountain dog mix at the shelter. We took home Riggs and while he was very handsome, he immediately did not seem like a good fit for us. We never discussed the "what if...." factor because we just assumed he was home for good, no matter what.

Long story short, Riggs has matured and with a lot of love and patience, it's hard to imagine life without Riggs.

I hope your friend gives it some time. I never thought Riggs was right for us until they day he suddenly was irreplacable.

Sarah Loves to Bake said...

When I adopted my little mutt Bijou I was very unsure if she was the right dog for me. The rescue was really great and matched us according to my living situation and lifestyle. I too had always wanted a large dog and I was disappointed at how small she was. But I took her home anyway and the first few days were quiet and uneventful. She seemed extremely sad and I had no idea how to make her happy. She slowly came out of her shell and even now, almost four years later we are still seeing more and more of her personality come out. It takes time to build a relationship with people, and I believe the same is true with our pets as well.

Unknown said...

I fully admit to people that when I fostered my dog I couldn't wait for someone to take him away and adopt him. He was much younger than I was used to, slightly destructive, really high energy, and had bad manners. I knew I would have to change my lifestyle to give him what he needed but I didn't want to. Then a few months later on a total whim, being presented with the possibility that he would belong to someone else a week later I said I'd keep him. It was the best decision I could have made and I have no regrets. It felt good right away and I've never had that feeling about another foster since. That was almost five years ago!

OG said...

This is a great post and question! I had the same experience as Liz when I first saw Petey at Animal Control. But as soon as they brought him out of the cage he EXPLODED with joy. He was a VERY tough adjustment for me b/c I was not used to a high energy destructive puppy! He did the same leash grabbing as Miss M. I later learned that was "manipulative Pit Bull behavior". However puppy school, time and soup bones eased things. Guilt is a very powerful emotions and may be clouding what your friend feels. And...as someone said maybe they can find an activity that bonds them

(Laura) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
(Laura) said...

I was just talking to a friend about this the other day! Like the friend you mention who is having some misgivings about her adopted pup, I too wanted a “big dog.” I had rescue greyhounds, so I was used to the larger guys. A coworker’s wife found our dog, and before we met her he has sent us a couple pictures taken when they found her. Because there wasn’t really anything in the picture to provide scale, I assumed she was around 60 lbs or so. Then he and his wife brought her to our house to meet her, and I distinctly remember my first thought when she walked through the door was, “Waitaminute – she’s so… SMALL.” She’s about 40 lbs and a “short stack” to boot. I also had set some “musts” before we started looking, my two biggest ones being “must be good with other dogs” and “good with kids.” She seemed good with (most of) the other dogs we met one on one, but then she flunked out of doggie daycare her first day. Just totally overwhelmed and did not enjoy it. And she was tolerant of, but clearly not entirely comfortable with my young nephew. But I called a trainer right away and we brought her in for an evaluation. We started doing clicker training with her and she was a born natural. Watching her transformation from a sweet but insecure street pup to a confidant, happy family member has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Though she’s still dog selective she’s shown us that she DOES really like canine company, she’s just highly selective of who she allows in her social circle. Which is fair! We are now in the process of adopting her a brother. She has absolutely turned out to be the perfect dog for us, and I am nuts about her. Even her shortness. ;)

The Whitfields said...

I think everyone wants the perfect dog even if they don't admit it. I adopted my first golden retriever, Dixie, years ago and she's now in Heaven but I fostered her first. She was overweight, slow for 6 years, and just had an awful past when I picked her up from the vet who had rescued her from animal control. She wasn't my "ideal" dog but she gave me more love and friendship than any animal I've ever had. I think sometimes our animals find us and especially in Dixie's case, she had been so neglected that she needed a good stable home. There were times when I would get frustrated with her because she couldn't walk that far or moved slower but then I realized my own selfishness. I never once could imagine giving her back and she lived a wonderful happy life with me. When she died in my vet's office, she gave me kisses and her paw. Every animal deserves a home and though it may not be what we desire, we should be open to a needy animal.

K-Koira said...

I felt that way about Pallo. He ended up being my rockstar flyball dog, even if he will never be my heart dog.

Anonymous said...

Tell your friend, she is obviously not alone. I fell in love with Melvin when I met him and one hour after he came to live with us, I thought, what have I done? My heart dog Max was dying, Melvin was forty handfuls and had a lot of medical issues. We did not bond very quickly. Two months after I got Melvin, I put Max down and that day I thought, I might not be right for Melvin. I am so broken over losing Max that I may have nothing to give him, and he needs so much. That night, Melvin barreled into me when I went to pick him up and I was overcome with love, a love so strong it broke through the terrible grief.

As for Jake, there was something about him but I was not a 'small dog' person. The first few weeks with him were like an out of body experience and I recall wondering when I was going to bond with him, especially since Melvin and I did not have the normal first few months together, I had nothing to go on. To be honest, I'm not sure when it happened, I just realized one day that I loved Jake as much as Melvin.

It takes time to find a grove and then without warning, love sets in. I think that how rescue goes a lot of the time, we want to rescue, we love rescue and when the dog arrives we figure out what it needs, and it figures out what we need and it takes time for bonds to form.

Maggie said...

When I went into a shelter to adopt, I had no preconceptions as to size or breed. I went looking for temperament. My Maggie was barking like crazy in her kennel, but I saw a softness in her eyes and I knew. Or, I got lucky.

When I took her out in the walk area, once she had walked off her energy, she calmed and when I stopped she stood right by my side. She also has a natural smile, so I have to admit, that slack-jawed mouth-breathing goofy smile was very endearing.

I also had a dog training friend come by for an objective opinion and she confirmed that she thought Maggie was very calm and a people-dog.

Maggie immediately made herself at home. She promptly jumped on my couch and slept. Most of all, I'd say training right away helped us build our bond.
We started that within the week and have never stopped.

I also realized early on that I had the dog I had. She doesn't fetch, she isn't cuddly, doesn't sleep on my bed. But, I love that she has lots of great canine behaviors that can't be taught (like stalking, prowling) that really crack me up. She's not perfect, but she is the right dog for me.

I chose Maggie, the shelter vetted me, and then Maggie chose me.

Unknown said...

My boyfriend and I adopted a Puggle and ended up giving it back the shelter to find a new family. I felt like an awful person. But I had a bad feeling right off the bat. I looked at my boyfriend one day after about five days of dealing with everything and said "This isn't our dog." We both knew he wasn't our dog. I still think of him and hope he found the right family. It was a tough choice but in the long run we knew it was the right thing to do.

Anonymous said...

I knew without a doubt that Boomer was my dog when I held him as a puppy for the first time, he just relaxed and melted into my arms.

Dottie was a little different, she was a scared little puppy with the rest of her litter at the humane society and I felt she needed out of there the most.

2 Punk Dogs said...

Maggie and I bonded right away, but she was scared of everything else, including the Mr. It has taken YEARS for her to relax around him, and there have been times that I thought it wasn't fair to either of them to keep her. Luckily the Mr. said that she was our dog, no matter what. He definitely gets to pick the next dog and make sure it likes him, since I tend to pick the "project dogs"!

If your friend has a lot of doubt she shouldn't feel guilty in trying to find a dog that is a better match.

Patty said...

oh man, I have gone through that with both of mine. Sophie was a puppy when I adopted her. My previous family dog had been super mellow and laidback even as a puppy. Sophie was the exact opposite. I remember sitting on my floor crying as she bit my toes and ran around like a loon. But then we found things to do and got into flyball and obedience. She was so smart and eager to please. The little piranha hooked me and I just knew she was my heart dog.

Swyatt is the first dog I have adopted that was not a puppy. I was worried about bonding with him from the get go which I am sure didn't help the matter. I had talked to a few rescues and turned down some great dogs because they wouldn't thrive in a flyball/agility environment. Swyatt sounded perfect, energetic, friendly and smart. Well he is all that but the rescue left out a few details. Energetic with no off switch (though with lots of work after 5 months he has learned to settle), friendly but cautious, smart but stubborn. He had no doggy skills and Sophie was not pleased. There were days those first few months where I kept asking what have I done, is this fair to either dog?

Classes and daycare has been our salvation. Making his mind work and his body has allowed me to see the real Swyatt who is under all the crazyness. He is such a lovable goof but it did take me some months to admit that he was really home.

For me the answer was time and doings things together. I know I would have regretted returning Swyatt but in those first few weeks the thought crossed my mind multiple times. But now, I can't imagine life without him.

Two French Bulldogs said...

When mom first got me she wasn't sure I wanted her. Bottom line, I was scared. I didnt want her to desert me. We all learned a lot from one another. She never had a doubt we all belonged together
Benny & Lily

Lindsay said...

I had a golden retriever before Ace, so when I looked for my next dog I had this picture of another light-colored, longer-haired dog in my mind. And it would be a girl.

Thankfully, I was able to choose a dog based on his energy level and personality, and Ace the black, short-haired dog ended up being perfect for me. He's lazy, sweet and is up for whatever - hikes, long naps, the dog park, sleeping in, whatever.

So, after I adopted him I'd say it took about three months or so before I really felt that close bond. Sure, he was great but it did take some time for me to become overly attached. Now, he's the best dog in the world as far as I'm concerned.

Your friend probably knows what's best. Maybe she needs more time. Or maybe this dog just isn't for her. She probably knows the answer.

diane said...

I think this is a very normal and common feeling in the beginning. With my pitbull, Mr. P, I was still having doubts a couple months after I adopted him. Then the unthinkable happened - he attacked the neighbor's kitty. At that point I REALLY had doubts. I spoke with people about my concerns - my vet, the shelter where I'd adopted him, etc.- and decided the best chance of ensuring nothing like that happened again would be if I kept him and made sure it didn't. Three and a half years have passed since then and I'm perfectly in love with my little man and can't imagine life without him. I hear it can take up to six months for a dog, especially a shelter dog, to settle in and show his true personality. I'd say give it a few months before making the final call.

Anonymous said...

I had serious moments of "what the heck have I gotten myself into?" We brought Marvin home with a terrible upper respiratory infection (think green snot everywhere) and a soon-to-be-discovered allergy to antibiotics (think eyes bulging out of his head) and extreme prey drive (as in couldn't be outside without going into a frenzy). I remember going for my evening walk with Marvin and having such a tough time that I broke down crying in the middle of the sidewalk and had to call my husband to help us get home. It felt very dramatic at the time. Most of the time I thought the dog was going to die on me so I didn't really have time to think about fit, but when we finally got to that point it was too late. I'd made making him healthy and happy my mission. Maybe that's crazy? Truth is, he was a lot of work in the beginning, but it made the payoff oh-so-sweet. He's such a good little guy and looking at him now I couldn't imagine our home with another dog, but I understand a tough start.

I also think it's normal to feel emotionally distant at the start. This little guy has totally turned life upside-down for you. I'm not sure it'll be different with another dog - the challenges may alter, but the emotional roller coaster will probably still be there. Good luck to your friend!

Rachel @ My Two Pitties said...

I really second guess myself with Kaya for a while. Like Miss M, she was SO energetic and feisty, I didn't think I could handle her in the long run. Looking back on it now, I realize working past that stuff made our bond stronger.

Loretta said...

We went through this with our second foster Shelton. We had fostered Jake first and knew right away he was the match for us. It truly was a no brainer. We continued to foster and Shelton came along. Shelton was very neglected, had the demodex mange, major infections in his ears, no hair, etc. We weren't looking to adopt another dog at that time, just to foster Shelton, get him healed, and then get him placed. Well, long story short, he and Jake became inseparable, and Shelton wiggled his way into our hearts. I think you are always hesitant when you first adopt a dog, but it is important to not compare them to your previous dog....I think a lot of people want a dog that is just like their previous one, and that doesn't happen. I agree with Diane, it takes a least 6 months to settle into a new life. But then they go and do something and you realize they came to you for a reason.

Unknown said...

I have 3 rescue Rottweilers and did NOT want another dog. My 3 got along perfectly and it was just a perfect fit.

Then I went to Petsmart with 2 of my dogs and saw a staffy girl there at one of their rescues. Someone had poured lighter fluid on her and lite her on fire. Needless to say, she is pretty hairless. She also had her canine teeth severely filed downed.

The rescue had her for over 13 months with not so much as an application. I felt and for her but in my heart I didn't think she would fit with the rest of my crew.

I was really torn because I could give her a loving, nurturing home but was concerned she would be a lot of work.

Well, I was SO wrong! She fits in PERFECTLY with my bunch and we have had ZERO issues.

Sometimes you just have to give it time and understand that rescues are sometimes broken or damaged and both human and dog may need time to acclimate.

I frequently am reminded of what a good decision it was to adopt Tallulah!!!

jet said...

Barbie was always the one for me despite some stuff we had to work through (toilet training! UGH)

Alden said...

I think that this is something that every dog owner goes through, particularly when adopting an adult or young dog, rather than a puppy. After the "honeymoon period" ended after adopting our 1 year old dog, Meyer. She is such a sweetheart, but we were dealing with a lot of issues. She would constantly bite the leash during walks (and not in a playful way), she would run around in circles in the living room frantically, chew almost anything she could get her paws on, and perhaps the most challenging was her frustration intolerance. We did not realize any of these issues, except for the leash biting, until they surfaced a few weeks after adopting her.

Thankfully, there are two of us, my boyfriend and I, which definitely makes managing Meyer easier. It was insanely stressful at times and very frustrating. We learned that she had already been adopted twice before and given up. Her second owner was nice enough to surrender Meyer to a no-kill shelter, because if she would have been returned to the shelter she was adopted from, she most likely would have been euthanized. We agreed that most people probably do not have the time or the patience to handle Meyer's problematic behaviors and that we wholeheartedly made a commitment to take care of her when we adopted her. She is ours for better or worse.

It's been six months now since we adopted Meyer, and we've developed an amazing bond with her. We've both had to make sacrifices (and be more patient than I ever imagined possible!) to work on her behavior, but it is completely worth it. Working through behavioral issues that your dog may have is difficult, but in the long run, you will end up having an amazing relationship with your dog.

Bonding does take time, but that's completely natural. For us, one of the most useful practices in developing a bond early on was by hand feeding Meyer once a day.

orange sugar said...

Just like with people I think you connect differently with different dogs. I have known Shadow since he was a puppy but I had far less time with Saber who we adopted from animal control and had a much stronger connection with him. I still miss him. Now we have Shadow, another rescue husky and Chloe a mini dachshund. I don't really feel connected to any of them the way I was with Saber.

rebecae said...

It took me six weeks for my last dog and I to bond. I have to admit that he always felt more like a little brother whom I loved, but he never moved out and continued to eat my food. With our current pup I feel more of a motherly bond towards her. Maybe it's bec we've had her since nine weeks, and my last I adopted when he was seven, but it's just a completely different relationship.

sweetemaline said...

I wasn't sure about the Turkeyman at first... but I'm glad I stuck with it because he is certainly my heartdog. :) Sometimes it just takes a little longer for that connection to happen...

Emily @ Our Waldo Bungie

liliana876 said...

Never had I doubted that Sasha and Argus were and are perfect for us. From the day we chose then they have been perfect for us. Argus is Carlos' boy and Sasha's my girl. Love those two to pieces.

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