Getting a rescue dog is many peoples first choice when looking for a new pet, according to Statista, 17% of dog owners in the UK adopted from rehoming centres or shelters. This journey can look very different for every dog and their new owners, and rescue dogs often bring their own set of highs and lows. While any dog can have health or behavioural issues, the stress and trauma that many rescue animals go through is a worry for lots of prospective owners. The Coast and Country Canines team have a range of rescue experiences and we wanted to share our stories and tips for bringing a rescue dog into your home and heart.
For the first blog in our three part series, Ranger Alice will be sharing her experience rescuing her loveable boys Conrad and Fergus. Be sure to check in next month for our next blog in this series, and we would love to hear your experiences too so please share your rescue dogs stories with us on social media
How did Conrad and Fergus join your family?
Having wanted a dog for over a decade, the moment we were in a position to offer a rescue a good home we started looking. We had been searching for a few months when we contacted a rescue centre in Brighton, and they suggested that we come and meet Conrad (bottom). Despite a difficult start in life, his loving nature and cheeky character shone through straight away. We brought him home shortly after meeting him, and he’s been making us laugh with his antics ever since.
After six months or so with Conrad, we decided to adopt a second dog to be a companion for him. Again, we had been searching for a while when a local rescue centre had an influx of seven lurchers – they had been let loose by the road, and all were thin and frightened. One of these dogs was Fergus (top). He was the saddest dog I’d ever seen, but when we introduced him to Conrad, he bounced around like a carefree puppy – we got a glimpse of the dog he could be with a bit of TLC, and when he honoured me with the slightest little lean, we knew we had to take him home.
How did they settle in?
As soon as Conrad set foot through the door, he made himself at home. After a sprint around the garden and a good sniff around the house, he curled up on my lap (he thinks he’s chihuahua-size) and seemed to relax straight away. Having had some scary experiences with men in the past, he took a little longer to warm up to Pete, my husband, but after lots of play and treats Conrad learned he was safe and they quickly bonded.
Fergus took longer to settle, and when we brought him home it was immediately obvious that he had never been in a house before. Doorways were scary, carpet was strange, and stairs were the stuff of nightmares. He wasn’t house trained, he didn’t know his name, and while he was comfortable with Conrad, he had no trust in people. In many ways, we were starting from scratch!
Since adopting him in April, we have worked hard to build Fergus’ confidence and trust, and although it has been challenging at times, it is hugely rewarding to see him become the playful, affectionate dog we knew he could be. His personality is really coming through now, and it turns out that he is incredibly bright, has a silly disposition (he’s always throwing himself around, chasing his tail and making funny noises) and loves a cuddle!
Now, I wake up most mornings with his head tucked under my chin, and he often bats me with his paws to ask for a fuss. He is still shy of new people and needs support in certain situations, but overall the transformation is incredible.
What are your top tips?
Give it time. While some dogs may settle in very quickly, others may take much longer to feel safe and secure. Have patience and know that with time and positivity, they will feel at home with you. When they start to come out of their shell and explore their new environment, try to learn their likes and dislikes – knowing these things will really help you find ways to bond with your dog and help them feel at home.
Join us next month to read the next blog in this series, where Dog Initiatives Officer Shona will be talking about her dog Finlay and his long journey from the streets of Newark to his favourite sofa.