I think one of the biggest misconceptions about adopting is that rescue dogs have behavioural problems. It is true that some dogs are surrendered because issues develop from a lack of exercise, fear-induced or no training, poor/imbalanced diet, poor health, and sometimes abuse. Even the dogs labeled as such can be “turned around” with time, patience, and working with a trainer or behavioural specialist.
Each year lots of dogs are surrendered or simply abandoned. These dogs can be any size, any breed, and any age, from puppies to senior dogs. The reason ranges from the arrival of a new baby and allergies to economic difficulties and simply, “no time”.
Many dogs are like Cornish. 2-3 year old mixed breeds who missed their chance as cute little puppies who can’t be denied. Cornish was one of my favourite dogs at the kennels and I’m so happy he found a home with a little fluffy companion. When I used to show people around the kennels, he would follow me. Sit so nicely when I was speaking, as if to say, “hey now, here’s a perfect dog.”
Many dogs available for rehoming have been beloved pets for many years, well-taken care of. Economic downturn has forced many expat families to return home with little notice and other families to “downgrade” to apartments without a yard. Some owners surrender their dogs because they can’t afford or don’t want to pay for vet expenses from an illness or special needs. Some sad cases are those whose owners have passed on and simply have no one to take care of them, often elderly dogs themselves.
Many are impulse buys and the owners realize they didn’t do their research and the dog’s needs are beyond what they can meet or the dog grows “too big”. For the lucky ones, these owners realize fairly quickly, within days of a purchase to more often around 6-8 months.
Lots of teenage dogs (1-1/2years) get surrendered because owners don’t know how to cope. This is the time when the dogs are bigger and energetic and testing the packing structure. New owners may not realize this is a normal phase and may not know who to ask. I hear locals use the term “naughty” very loosely. This can range from an under-exercised dog to a truly aggressive one. This just reflects a lack of understanding.
I also find lots of dogs given up around 5 to 6 years of age. I’m not sure why. This is usually when the dogs are calmer and more relaxed and their exercise needs may start to decrease. Big dogs don’t usually mellow into adulthood until past 2 or 3. For Blackspot, it was around 3-4. Recently at Mount Pleasant I saw notices of adoption for several huskies and goldies around this mid-ish age. I think this is the time when a lot dogs used for breeding are also given up, when their tired bodies are just not healthy enough.
There are so many reasons dogs need a new home, some outrageous, some understandable, some sad. Even though it’s NEVER the dog’s fault, they pay the price. Some dogs do need a more experienced and patient owner, ready to work through their issues with training, diet, and maybe alternative therapy such as flower essences. But there are lots of dogs who are easy, happy, and good with dogs/cats/kids/people and ready for a new home.
Dogs are adaptable and resilient. So next time when you or someone you know is thinking of getting a dog, please consider visiting your local SPCA and other dog rescues and shelters.