Below is a photo of us, taken in 2009, by Lillie Goodrich of Glen Highland Farm, a border collie rescue, originally located in Morris, New York, now since moved to Gloucester, Virginia. I am holding what was to be our newest addition, Piper, a deaf border collie, who turns 12 this year. The other three dogs my husband is holding at bay, include (left to right) Bethy (who hated every moment of it), Moe, and Burton (a deaf ES mix). All three were adopted from Another Chances for English Setters (ACES) Rescue, which has since closed. We had traveled to Glen Highland to do a meet and greet during our adoption process.
However, the process is not necessarily speedy, so you have to have patience. There are lots of nuances and ins-and-outs to rescuing. I say this from not only a horse rescue perspective, when I became heavily involved in rescuing horses beginning in 2000, but from transporting, volunteering for, and working with dog and cat rescues throughout the years.
To illustrate a case-in-point, there's Danny. He was originally fostered-to-adopt by another family, but came to stay with us in a foster situation, once it was decided the original family were perplexed about how to help him through his fear issues in a larger city environment. Danny spent the first week with us living under this desk in the kitchen, only slinking out at night to drink water. He had to be leashed to exit the building for potty breaks.
We had taken in another older dog from this rescue, prior to Danny's arrival. Named Winston, he was in dire straits in a Kentucky shelter, already 9 or 10 years old at the time, He lived three more years under our care, and was a primary catalyst for Danny's recuperation process. Fate? Maybe.
Besides having patience, you also need to do some research. The best way to approach rescue is to NOT see a photo of a dog and say "oh, let's adopt that dog!" but to see information about a rescue, fill out an application form to become eligible to adopt with that organization, then, once you are notified you have been approved, ask this question: "Who is available to adopt?"
Most people get their knickers all puckered up when they see a dog, and assume they can adopt that exact dog. The problem with that is, you don't know what has been going on behind the scenes. Maybe someone has already spoken for the dog, and they are just going through the end process toward adoption. Maybe the dog just came into foster and needs further evaluation. The good thing about having a conversation AFTER you have been approved, is you might also get insight into dogs that have come into the system, but are not yet featured anywhere, and that you are now eligible to be considered for adopting.
Danny's story, we are so very happy to say, is ending well. For me, he has become an advocate for fearful dogs. We created a Facebook page just for him (My Foster Dog Danny), which chronicles his entire rehabilitation process from Day 1. We hoped it might help others realized that the frightened dog in the shelter, or the dog with the tail between its legs at the rescue, could become a loving and great companion in a home environment.
Dogs moved from environment to environment, with little to no stability for long periods of time, might revert back to the only things they know, some of which, might not be welcome activities. Once again, patience is key. Not expecting too much is key. Reward-based training is key.
I never thought I would say this, but I am the culprit of now giving Danny bad habits. He is a thoroughly good dog, that I have corrupted. But before he became our good, corrupted dog, he was a very fearful pup. Danny will be somewhere around 12 years old this year. He has some health problems, which we are monitoring, and he seems to be doing okay with right now. We are thankful he has been a member of our family, because even though he is not normal, remember, neither are we.
I am a member of HeARTs Speak, a non-profit devoted to helping shelter and rescue animals put their best paw forward, by the donation of professional photography services, helping to achieve a good first impression. We are ARTISTS HELPING ANIMALS.
To see what other photographers in the circle have chosen for this week, start with Jessica Wasik with Bark & Gold Photography, celebrating the joy and love between Pittsburgh pets and their people. Then follow the links at the end of each blog to the next photographer in the circle, until you find yourself right back here. Enjoy!