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What is it about a dog’s “rescue” story?

I wrote about how I volunteered to help walk and socialize two very shy puppies at my local humane society. This brother-and-sister pair was transferred from a shelter in Mississippi to my area along with 13 other dogs. Since they are only six months old, I assume they grew up in the shelter system. Regardless, they are extremely shy around new people. They are scared of every little noise, every new thing.

cute spaniel/basset hound mix

So naturally I feel sorry for the puppies and I want to help them. Out of all the dogs at the shelter, these two stand out to me because they are so fearful. The fact that they are not at all aggressive makes them even more “sweet.” When they are scared, they huddle up in their blankets or flatten to the ground.

What is it about a dog’s rescue story that makes her so attractive? Why does it make many of us feel better to adopt a dog with a sad story vs. a dog who’s had a great life? There are plenty of dogs at the shelter who do not have fear issues. There are plenty of dogs who are very friendly and who practically do back flips just to get attention.

Why would I want a little dog who hides in the back of her cage? Who is scared to go for walks? Who closes her eyes in fear when you reach to put on her leash?

I don’t know.

Probably because I have a deep desire to help animals in need (like many of us). Probably because it makes me feel important. Probably because it’s a way to help myself.

Do any of you react the same way to the more ‘needy’ dogs?

There is a solid black puppy and a black, brown and white puppy. The black one is the braver of the two. Check them out here.


Wednesday 18th of December 2013

It makes me feel good about myself when I do something to help others. And I love watching the transformation of an animal in need. I imagine most people probably don't have the time, knowledge, or energy to take on such a task, so the fact that there are quite a few people who do ensures all sorts of pets get adopted, not just the "easy" ones.

Some of my pets have been rescued while others have not. While I feel so blessed to have been able to rescue Pierson, I still love my Maya (who doesn't know the meaning of hardship). Do I care about one or the other more just because they may or may not have been rescued? No. When I want to cuddle, I love Maya the most. When I want to play, I love Pierson the most.


Tuesday 17th of December 2013

Yes, in a way. I feel that the easily adoptable dogs are better suited for your average dog owner. Those who don't want to invest all the blood, sweat, and tears needed for a "special" dog.


Tuesday 17th of December 2013

I focused on shelter pups because it seemed like the obvious choice: I wasn't too picky about breed, wanted to do some good, and didn't think finding a good/humane breeder was likely on my budget. When I read the saddest stories, I'd be lying if I said I didn't get that heartstring twinge of "maybe *I* can be the one to help... with LOVE and KINDNESS and CUDDLES!" (Fortunately, I knew it doesn't always work like that.)

As a side note, I've always felt uncomfortable saying that I "rescued" my dog. The volunteers at the rescue group did the finding, the saving, and the fostering, and by the time I decided to take her home, there were several other people on the waitlist, ready to adopt her in a heartbeat... She may be "a rescue," but she was rescued long before she met me!

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 17th of December 2013

I don't consider my dog a rescued dog either. He was adopted.


Tuesday 17th of December 2013

I'm the opposite in a "let's get'er done" kind of way. This is purely a personal preference. (I admit I'm not always the best patience person.)

I'd rather go up to another dog who is interested in having me take them out or work with them than have to coax out a scared dog huddled in the back of their kennel or bed, even if they are super sweet.

You have to be patient and take the time with the scared/shy dogs, and when you aren't taking care of just one, you have to fight against the part in the back of your head of how much you have to do. They deserve to be treated with care and patience as though they were the only 1 there, even though they aren't. Good dog care moves at the speed of the dog, not the handler's schedule or other responsibilities. It's a harder mindset to get into. I also believe that even if you are good at reading dog signals, it is easier to accidentally set that dog up to bite or for failure - esp in or around environments you don't control - so you really do need to be "on" in how careful you are in a very certain specific way.

That's not to say that you don't need to be careful or have a game plan for handling rambunctious over-excited dogs too. I just find it easier to go in and leash or harness up a dog (or be handed the dog from someone else) and get started to begin with when they are at least interested in me and what we're going to do. Even if it's a dog who will want to jump in my face or otherwise doesn't have manners and I won't reward the bad behavior, it still seems to be "quicker" and easier to take advantage of the moments when they do keep all paws on the floor or sit or otherwise respond to a standard training technique (like ignoring the wrong thing/removing attention). Even if that involves waiting, it feels like training. I know letting a dog warm-up or get used to something is also a form of training, but it just doesn't always feel like it.

As for who is more worth feeling sorry for, people seem to respond to the classic "abused by owner" story without realizing that it's also very sad when owners don't or can't give dogs enough attention, exercise or teach them manners and then dump them at the shelter to be someone else's problem when they are no longer cute little puppies as though it was the dog's fault it is wild or unruly!


Tuesday 17th of December 2013

I've noticed that any time there is a story in the media about a mistreated dog, hundreds of people want to adopt the dog. I'm curious about their motives.

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 17th of December 2013

I notice the same thing. They want a mistreated dog or no dog at all.