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Dog Adoption Tips

Updated on August 28, 2018
ethel smith profile image

Eileen loves to travel as much as possible, both at home in the U.K. and abroad, with local places of interest high on her to-visit list.

Just Three of Our Rescues

Leo, Jessie and Tinka
Leo, Jessie and Tinka

A Lasting Love Affair

Over almost 46 years of married life we have shared our various homes with six dogs, though not all at the same time!

When we first married I had no intention of owning a dog but somehow within our first year of marriage we had our first four legged resident and he started my long lasting love affair with dogs.

We had a five-year dog free period when our first dog passed and currently have just one small dog but we have had the pleasure of two dogs living with us on more than one occasion.

Re-homing a rescue dog can be many things including fun, tiring, hard work, rewarding, costly, time consuming, risky and more.

It is not for everyone but if you think you could offer a rescue dog a forever home you will always be needed.

Here in Yorkshire in the U.K. we have taken in rescues from three different animal charities but wherever you are in the world the basic rules regarding re-homing should be similar.

This is some advice from our experiences.

Don’t Buy But Re-Home

There are so many dogs given up for adoption or even foster that I would say never buy from a breeder, puppy farm or a store but rather choose a rescue centre.

The headline though is misleading as reputable rescue charities still charge you.

With some animal charities it is a fee which covers neutering and or any medical treatment but with others a set fee such as £200 may be charged.

You may think that fee is high but it almost guarantees the new owner will be committed to the welfare of the animal.

It prevents time wasters or those who want a dog on a flight of fancy then quickly change their mind.

Please note:-

In the U.K. animal charities ensure all dogs rescued are spayed or castrated to prevent further unwanted animals.

Safe and Warm, Free from Harm

Tinka post a minor operation enjoying some T.L.C.
Tinka post a minor operation enjoying some T.L.C.

To Foster or Adopt?

There are some dogs who for various reasons are up for fostering rather than adoption.

It could be a short or long term foster.

In some cases some or even all of the animal’s costs are covered by the charity.

It is possible to be on the charities books as a potential long term foster home. This could mean dogs coming to you while a forever home is found.

You may be the animal’s lifeline to a normal world.

If you have time and patience to work with a troubled dog until it is ready for a permanent home this can be very rewarding.

However here is a word of caution

Jessie came to us aged around nine months as a boisterous foster dog. When she passed she had lived with us 14 years and we loved her to bits.

She enjoyed her happy forever home with us as my husband could just never let her go.

Only consider fostering if you will be able to pass the animal on when the time is right.

Puppy or Older Dog?

Most people looking for a dog want a puppy but a puppy can be hard work until it is trained. Those puppy years pass quickly and the animal is soon an adult dog so why not consider re-homing an older dog?

There are pros and cons to owning a puppy and or owning an older dog.

A Puppy

  • May be destructive
  • Needs to be trained
  • May mess in your home

But on the plus a side a puppy should have a clean slate and a happy healthy life ahead if it.

An Older Dog

  • May have been mistreated over a period of time
  • May be nervous or anxious
  • May have ongoing health issues leading to costly vet bills
  • May have bad habits

But on the plus side could be already trained in lots of ways including toilet trained.

What you really need to remember is all dogs are individuals. How they respond if they have been mistreated varies too. Some will get nervous but others defensive and possibly snappy.

However never discount an older dog.

An older dog may be harder for the charity to re-home.

The General Adoption Process

Most if not all reputable animal charities will want to do a home check ahead of any adoption.

They will check you:-

  • Have enough space to home a dog
  • Have suitable and safe fences or walls and gates around your gardens or yards
  • You are able and can afford to home a pet
  • Have enough free time
  • Are fully aware what your responsibilities will be
  • Who lives in your property

Some rescue dogs need to be in child-free homes while others may not accept another family pet.

You may be suitable to adopt or foster a dog but only certain dogs.

Working will not exclude you from owning a rescue dog but it will depend on how many hours you work a week. There is no point taking in a dog if you work long shifts which will leave the animal home alone.

Some animal charities have online application a available so check before you consider your options.

If you visit an R.S.P.C.A. centre for example you can look at the dogs available and read a little of their history. You will however have to bear in mind the history may not be entirely accurate.

If you select a dog it will be taken from its cage for you to walk it around the enclosed grass area.

Some dogs and would be owners just gel so easily.

Two of our dogs, from different periods of time, came to visit before we signed on the dotted line.

Sometimes a home visit by the animal is recommended if you have other pets or children. It allows everyone involved to get an idea of what it would be like living together. An afternoon visit may be followed by a full weekend stay though in some cases a dog is re-homed more quickly.

There can be many reasons for a more cautious approach and it is best to follow the animal charities advice.

Rescues Tinka and Jessie

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Relaxing in the sunshineEven larger dog Jessie like to relax in the sunshineTinka looking sweet and innocentFresh from a bathIn need of a trim
Relaxing in the sunshine
Relaxing in the sunshine
Even larger dog Jessie like to relax in the sunshine
Even larger dog Jessie like to relax in the sunshine
Tinka looking sweet and innocent
Tinka looking sweet and innocent
Fresh from a bath
Fresh from a bath
In need of a trim
In need of a trim

A Dog That Bites

Little Tinka is our current dog.

He came to us almost six years ago.

His owner had died, he had been adopted, returned having snapped at someone and then was attacked by larger dogs in the rescue one evening.

He was a complicated little dog who was nervous, snappy when unwell or stressed and inclined to bite.

With sharp little teeth and fast movements Tinka could give a nasty bite and yes I was one of his victims.

However when we agreed to re-home him we knew we were his last chance. If it did not work out he was to be euthanised.

This added pressure to us but we took the long approach and worked with Tinka every step of the way.

We are currently enjoying a two-week vacation staying at a dog-friendly apartment.

We travelled here via train and bus, myself, my husband and Tinka that is.

Tinka has come a long way emotionally since he was rescued.

He still has odd moments but they are rare.

He is a sweet natured affectionate dog more often than not but I would not recommend adopting a known biter unless you are an experienced dog owner.

To be fair all our other rescue dogs have been so sweet and eager to please Tinka has been the smallest and most complex of them all.

Perhaps that has more to do with him being a small dog though?

Head Over Heart

Probably the most important piece of advice is do not let your heart rule your head.

If you adopt a rescue dog that is not practical for you it may all end in tears and the biggest loser will be the animal.

You may also lose out financially and emotionally.

So before you adopt think it through carefully.

A dog may live up to 19 or even 20 years though most do not.

  • Can you commit to a pet for the next five or 10 or 15 years?
  • Can you afford to feed a pet and pay any medical bills?
  • Will you walk the animal as much as it needs?
  • Is owning a dog a flash in the pan idea for you or will it be a way of life?

Rescue dogs need good and loving forever homes but the important word is “forever” unless you could offer a good temporary foster home.

And Dogs Like To Have Fun

© 2018 Ethel Smith


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