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"Rescue-itis": the more messed-up they are, the better we like'em

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by leashedForLife, May 1, 2011.


  1. leashedForLife

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    Dr. Milani talks about rescue-itis, the allure of severely-damaged animals to rescue-groups or individuals.
    They often think 'love' will conquer any past trauma, make up for lack of socialization, no habituation to human
    homes, etc - it cannot; the dog's puphood & past history, with or without good human experiences,
    is what it is; we have to see truthfully where the dog is now, & realistically assess the chances for a happy life -
    not only for the dog, but for the adopter.


    mental, physical, or behavioral neglect can leave profound scars, which can be lifelong; they may get 'better',
    but that damaged-dog is extremely unlikely to ever become close to normal.

    Dr. McMillan spoke at the 2011 IAABC conference, & he believes that mental abuse / neglect is worse then physical;
    physical injuries tend to heal, & even if they are massive [serious burns, amputation, etc] the dog recovers over time;
    in sharp contrast neglect or abuse in puphood or over time can cause catastrophic damage, which needs
    not only skilled intervention & B-Mod but may result in permanently warped behaviors.
    [Dr McMillan has worked with the Vick-tory dogs, the survivors of the BadNewz kennels dogfighting biz.]

    a pup, pubertal or teen-dog with no early, happy experience of humans or human-spaces is crippled in many ways.
    dogs who enter rescue or a shelter may be semi-feral; human-handling is terrifying to them, they struggle or may
    freeze in complete panic; that they do not bite does not mean they are not STRESSED.

    they are neophobes: anything novel scares the p*ss out of them; some may already have had a past eejit try to use
    harsh-handling or flooding to 'cure' them, which is just one more bad experience to add to their fat file. :(

    dogs who have just arrived need more than shelter, food, clean water & vet-care; they need genuine assessment,
    not rosy-glasses pity - cringing, freezing, hiding, jamming their faces into corners & pretending we aren't there?!...
    not good signs, and they should NOT be 'appealing' -- it is not unusual to have a novice owner apply to adopt
    a cute dog who happens to be a train-wreck, & shelter-staff or rescue-volunteers should warn them -
    instead of cooing over the dog & back-patting the ignorant owner for being so generous & adopting this dog, who is likely
    to boomerang back in a week or a month or a year, either unchanged or even worse for wear. :nonod:

    glamorizing the adoption of a k9-disaster is IMO cruel & misleading to both parties - the very least that the shelter
    or rescue SHOULD do, in my professional opinion, is warn people that this dog may not ever be 'normal', that taking
    a vacation with the dog may not be enjoyable, kenneling this dog may be impossible, & even a house-sitter may not
    be something s/he can cope with, well; hiding under the bed & refusing to emerge to be leashed to toilet is just one
    potential complication - fear-biting can result in rifts with neighbors, estrangement from relatives, & even
    bankruptcy, depending on how serious the bite is, & the litigation which results.

    i am not by any means saying scared-dogs should all be euthanized, that's extreme & unnecessary -
    but choosing a dog who is obviously traumatized & terrified as a rescue, pulling that dog from a shelter,
    & letting some well-meaning person take home this pathetic bundle of raw-nerves is IMO no kindness.

    shelters & rescues IMO should:
    * require a group-class be attended & completed with every dog -
    no matter how normal the dog, no matter how experienced the adopter.
    6-weeks of once weekly classes won't kill ya, & the dog is around other dog & people in a managed setting.

    * obviously these classes would be reward-based & not use aversive tools: prongs, choke, or shock-collars,
    nor confrontational or coercive handling & techniques: NO flooding, pin the dog, roll the dog, etc.


    * a partnership with one or more experienced B-Mod trainers, also using pos-R not flooding, chokes, etc,
    would also be advantageous to both the rescue/shelter & the adopter, for dogs who need more than manners -
    using calmatives, better management, how to keep a dog under threshold, what stress looks like at low-levels,
    & so on, can be crucial to whether the adoption succeeds or the adopter gives-up & the dog returns, or worse yet,
    is rehomed to another pet-home, which often results in a series of homes, each lasting weeks or months only.

    * many dogs who are adopted have never been housetrained; they may have lived in a yard or kennel,
    or on a chain, or simply survived as strays, scavenging as they could. To ensure their potty-training is kind & patient
    is another reason to foster such dogs, rather than place them with adopters immediately; trained fosters are
    a DoGsent-blessing for ignorant dogs with zero house-skills. :001_smile:


    * such dogs also often benefit from more-advanced management, especially till they feel more comfortable: using
    indoor tethers, introducing crates, wearing a drag, walking on a leash, what's a chew toy?..., feeding from a Kong
    or a BusterCube or other food-puzzles, a long-line to teach recall, hand feeding to avoid food-guarding, ...
    there is so much that can be done before the dog is ion a pet-home, being managed willy-nilly,
    scolded for predictable mistakes, and so on.

    * post-adoption support: somebody should be willing to follow up, check that all goes swimmingly or at least,
    relatively smoothly, no new problems arise, no major backsliding on known issues, etc.

    how many dog train-wrecks have U seen, placed in pet-homes without support or prior fostering?

    how many of those dog-disasters kept that home - and how many lost it?

    who knows a rescue [besides Dogs Trust] which actually offers post-adoption support via phone or e-mail?
     
  2. tripod

    tripod PetForums VIP

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    Terry we do all this :D We are www.adogslife.ie and on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/A-Dogs-Life/270131087473?sk=wall

    I work with the family for the remainder of the dog's life. We make lots and lots and lots of training info and resources available to them via FaceBook etc.

    We require that they book training with an approved trainer (apdt.ie) and waive part of the fee.
    We are also working with the chip company that we use to get them a months free pet insurance too.

    Because we work with lots of types covered by BSL we need to be very very supportive; if a cocker or lab did something that a pibble or staffie did it becomes a very different picture and we have to accomidate that.

    Our biggest problem is lack of fosterers and certainly enough fosterers to take on special needs dogs.
     
  3. goodvic2

    goodvic2 PetForums VIP

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    Our rescue does. The support is always ongoing. I only met with someone the other day who had recently rehomed one of our dogs. She had a few issues and the rescue has provided lots of follow up support.

    The post makes total sense To me.

    You talk about people perceiving love to be enough. But not only is it not, but giving too much can unbalance the dog.
     
  4. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    It also can unbalance the owners, when unrealistic expectations are not met!

    I feel that true dog lovers, understand and meet the needs of dogs, but let them be dogs rather than let their own needs for companionship, force the dog into substitute human roles that they are not comfortable in.
     
  5. tripod

    tripod PetForums VIP

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    I find the biggest issue is getting the right match. A behavioural issue might not be a problem to one person but is the deal breaker to another.

    Despite someone's level of experience adopters almost consistently have high expectations and think it will be easier than it actually is. That goes for people who have adopted before, people with experience in the bred etc. Dog behaviour is the most likely cause for dogs ending up being abandoned.
     
  6. lucysnewmum

    lucysnewmum PetForums Senior

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    sadly, one of our foster dogs has come back into rescue!
    remember George, my beautiful foster greyhound who was a bag of nerve, unhousetrained and not used to much human contact?

    Well, i have him back again as,,,heavens above,,,,he got upset at being moved to his new home, chewed a few bits and bobs when left alone and urinated on the kitchen floor!!!!!

    end of the world,,,NOT
    manageable.........DEFINITELY
    end result...........TRAINING STARTS AGAIN WITH ME!!!

    One week after arriving back in rescue he is asking to go out when ready, not chewing when i have to leave him as he is in his crate, and generally is the chilled out, loveable rogue that i thought had been rehomed for life.
     
  7. ClaireandDaisy

    ClaireandDaisy PetForums VIP

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    What an appallingly condescending post! And what total sh*te!
    Apologies - but I have `train-wreck` dogs and know of many others who have them. I also know a lot of Rescue people who are pragmatic and objective.
    Sweeping generalisations like the tosh you quote and also the comments you make may make for good copy but in the real world, people do what they can with the animals in front of them.
    May I humbly suggest you educate yourself a little. Get on to the website of Rescues who work with the casualties in countries such as Greece and Spain. Greek Animal Rescue is a good one to start with. They have a wonderful support network and a marvellous track record. Of course they don`t pay behaviourists... they have better uses for their money.
     
  8. tripod

    tripod PetForums VIP

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    Who is this directed towards?

    And just to clarify, I am a behaviour consultant for the rescue I discussed above and work entirely for free. All of us 'work' as volunteers and we don't get money for anything we do or give. We can't afford to use money to 'make money' and rely entirely on donations. Like all rescues we are experiencing some of the hardest times in years, with use experiencing a 60% increase in dogs so far this year.
     
  9. Rottiefan

    Rottiefan PetForums VIP

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    I'm not really sure you understood the post correctly :confused: :eek:

    Leashed is not advocating that anyone with a 'train wreck' dog is not suitable to own them- only that adopting a 'train wreck' case to inexperienced owners or owners that have no prior warning to what the dog's like is really irresponsible. Dogs come back into rescue centres all the time for these reasons and quite often they are put down when they come back as they have a reason to be called 'unrehomable'.
     
  10. leashedForLife

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    sadly, precisely what i meant - placing a dog must be done with an eye to a good match, & even dog-trainers are not
    necessarily keen on adopting a 'pet-project' dog to keep them busy in their off-hours; everyone likes a break,
    and going home after working with other folks' problem-behaviors, knowing that U are facing Ur own dog's quirks
    or outright dangers - like dog-aggro or human-aggro - makes for a very long, exhausting day.

    IMO it is unfair to let a novice choose the dog who shoves her/his head in the corner to avoid looking at U
    [a classic symptom of profoundly undersocialized or semi-feral dogs], the one that shakes, freezes, cowers,
    will not emerge from the cage or kennel-run or go out the door unless picked-up or dragged out, etc -
    i just LOVE this dog, i feel so sorry for her/him... is not a good-enough reason to place the dog.

    anybody who adopts a seriously damaged dog should have some minimal skills, past experience with normal dogs,
    AND ongoing support - not be thrown on their own resources in deep-water & told to save themselves & the dog.
    truth in advertising is also important: don't portray the globally fearful dog as 'a little shy...',
    don't claim the dog-aggro dog is 'just excited...' The adopter needs to know what they're getting - & getting into.

    it is unfair to give assurances that minimize the size of the problem.
     
  11. goodvic2

    goodvic2 PetForums VIP

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    I have 2 rescues from greek animal rescue :)
     
  12. leashedForLife

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    yes - folks who cannot stand a dog who barks more than once or twice,
    or they can't abide heavy seasonal-shedding, or they hate to have a dog who must be groomed [Poodle or cross,
    Schnauzer or other wire-coat, breeds or mixes that dreadlock, etc] - everybody has their pet peeves,
    & it's important for the prospective adopter to know & mention their real deal-breakers, too. ;)

    think about what really matters to U - both pro & con. What's the most important to have?
    the most important to avoid altogether? must the dog be cat-tolerant? and so on.
     
  13. Rottiefan

    Rottiefan PetForums VIP

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    I saw someone bring a dog back because it was too large once (an America Bulldog)...there's no help for those people. :eek:
     
  14. leashedForLife

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    did they expect the dog to shrink, once they got her/him home? :p sheesh.
    yep, no help for that; WYSIWYG rules. [what you see is what you get].
     
  15. tripod

    tripod PetForums VIP

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    We had a family surrender their pet dog to the pound we work out of because it shed hair that didn't match their new suite of furniture!
     
  16. leashedForLife

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    well by all means, GET A STUFFED DOG that matches the furniture! :thumbup: and U can always dye it.
    or re-cover it -- make a stuffie-slipcover of brown plush... or white faux-fur... or pinto! :D
     
  17. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    And contrary to what someone suggests this is not always done automatically.

    For instance I regularly see a Husky x Collie, initially underweight placed with an elderly couple (male in wheelchair), on very first sight I called over to see if I should keep my young dog out the way, as she was almost being pulled over and struggling. Since the lady has broken her ankle, but fortunately daugher & son in law, have helped out a lot, but it has cropped up in conversation how few questions were asked before placement.

    We can only conclude they had some "box" for the common Collie X's, whereas this dog even malnourished, was rather hard for me to handle on leash pulling like a .. like a Husky Sled Dog. Letting a good looking but very high energy vigorous dog go to inexperienced frail elderly owners is IMO dodgy.

    It's not easy to see slowly escalating dog aggression, subtle guarding behaviours and poor recall (in a Deer park) not being addressed. There's no way that dog was a train wreck case, but even so it's a bizarre placement and the dog's in actual danger of getting shot or injury from a red deer, or just losing effective exercise opportunity because of the dubious matching.
     
    #17 RobD-BCactive, May 2, 2011
    Last edited: May 2, 2011
  18. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    I think I can understand that though, once I got a Hi-Fi & Speakers which didn't look big in shop! :)

    Probably that's thinking more realistically once they'd taken the dog home, people have their emotions tugged when they see dogs & puppies and have trouble resisting impulsiveness. It does sound silly though!
     
  19. leashedForLife

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    here is a sad example of one overwhelmed 'rescue' - they accept dogs who have serious problem behaviors,
    for a fee - & simply keep them, till there are too many - then take the excess to the local animal-control,
    who rarely find adopters for any but the few pups; most are adults, & are euthanized - BUT other rescuers
    will come & 'save' these dogs, who are often considered unadoptable. And of course, having been badly kept,
    they are also filthy, have parasites, forgot their housetraining, may have never been leash-trained, etc.

    for obvious reasons, this was an OPEN letter but i have hidden identifiers.
    the only person whose name is here is the one who urged everyone to share it.
    would U want one of these dogs?
     
  20. Emmastace

    Emmastace PetForums VIP

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    I am actually quite upset by this post
     
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