I wanted to write a blog about getting a rescue dog, this will be our story and when reading this you need to remember that every dog/puppy is different so try not to compare or judge. I will try to explain things I did, things I made mistakes on, and just in general how Slicks made her transition to our home, learning to trust and becoming the dog we knew she could be, we are still on our journey and working with her daily.
Here we go... I hope you all stick around till the end.
Ok, so a few days after Christmas 2021, I was scrolling through Facebook and I happened across an ad/picture of "Shadow". (I will talk about her name change on a later blog, giving you information as to why and how to change the names of rescue dogs) now realize last year I lost both my heart dogs Bear and Moto I have had 2 or more dogs in my home for the better part of 10 years- so I had been watching the rescue pages for a second dog. Hear my out because this might seem a little whoo whoo but I often use a pendulum, I would hold the pendulum over the pictures I found interesting and would ask it "is this my dog?" the answer was a consistent "NO" this particular day, on SHadow's picture it spun "YES". I ignored the picture for 2 days and then went back and asked the pendulum again... again it spun "YES", so I applied for her. I believe it was the same day the rescue replied they wanted me to meet her...
I was to meet her on the evening of Dec 29th... but that morning I fell in the back yard of my house and injured my right wrist and both my elbows to say I was definitely couch-bound is a bit of an understatement, I contacted the foster parent and told them I was the ER and I would have postpone the meeting - I was unsure at the time I actually had a broken wrist (that in itself is a whole other story... was told it was not broken and wasn't diagnosed until 7 weeks later that it was in fact broken). Honestly, at that point, I was sure this was not going to happen, but they had agreed to wait until the weekend. I got a ride over there for a meet and greet because I couldn't drive at this point. Sprocket my goofy lab who also was at the time 10 months old came with me to meet her and well it went fairly well. SProcket being the young gentleman that he is (hee hee sarcasm) walked into the back yard and she did a little growl, she does a thing where she growls, and then her bottom jaw bounces her teeth knock together but she doesn't act on that, it looks kind of nasty but it's just her being unsure - she still does this at times today. Sprocket was probably wondering what the heck everybody loves me always!!! so he choose to ignore her and started playing with a ball. Shortly after that, she must've thought well he's not too bad and they started to play. I did see nearing the end of our visit the first signs of food aggression, I dropped a treat on the ground and she resourced guarded the area for quite sometime after the food was long gone, I could see that at that point I would need to be very careful and do a ton of training on this area and that was my first priority.
I brought her home the next week after I was able to drive and hold on to the leash. Obviously, I wasn’t really able to do too much as far as walking her with all my injuries which was probably a good thing as she seems to be so exhausted. For the most part, all she did was go in her crate and sleep, go outside to potty and play with Sprocket and go back to sleep. That was life for pretty much those first 3 weeks. I let her decompress, rest and adjust to her new life here. I’m sure she thought she was just at another temporary home. The first few days we had some "accidents" on the floor - I needed to learn her routine and she needed to learn ours but we figured it out pretty quickly.
To give you some history of what I do know about SLicks, I was her 6th home in her short little 10-month-old life. She was from a northern Manitoba reservation, she had been shipped out here, and adopted out at 5 months to a woman who was herself extremely anxious - the woman had an older dog (Lab) and was fearful of Slick’s food aggression and leash reactivity. At some point, Slicks was put on a drug called Trazodone (anti-anxiety meds IMO are a terrible idea, especially for a fearful dog but I will also address this in a later blog) THe woman returned Slicks back to the rescue the second week of December and at the Foster mom took her off the drugs to find out exactly what they were dealing with.
Slicks has endured some kind of trauma, I know this because she is missing the bottom part of her right ear, and I think she has had a head injury of some kind. She was malnourished when she came to rescue, she has food aggression, leash reactivity and Slicks will run in circles when she’s stressed or excited, the running is always to the left… she will run/spin to the left around anything like a coffee table or my big cedar stump outside. She also couldn’t, and still can’t right herself very well if she falls and gets on her back, she is clumsy and runs into things, it’s like when she gets excited or anxious her vision is gone. In a later blog, I will talk about the Trust Technique which talks about the thinking brain verse the non-thinking brain which definitely Slicks suffers from.
My thoughts on adopting a rescue dog… life is going to be stressful, you don’t know this new dog, and you need to be careful as things you may not expect can/will pop up (I thankfully was told about her issues, so knew to be careful) but like everyone I made mistakes, don’t beat yourself up about it. You need to learn from the mistakes and plan/manage for the next time similar situations arise.
My suggestion when adopting a rescue dog is to hire a trainer- do this fairly soon after getting your new dog, gaining skills will build Confidence. Issues aren't going to magically disappear with age or time - if anything they will get worse if you're not making the correct changes. I wish whoever had adopted slicks at 5 months would have done training with her - but then I guess she probably wouldn't be my dog. . Contact a holistic vet or a homeopathic doctor to work with you and your dog's issues - in a later blog I will explain what we did holistically with Slicks and how it worked.
There’s a 3-3-3 rule in adopting a dog- The amount of time each individual dog needs will vary, but applying the 3-3-3 rule when adopting a dog gives you a great approximation of what to expect. Remember, issues like trauma and anxiety will definitely extend these periods and may require additional treatment. i.e. with Slicks, we are far longer schedule. Also, remember you can't train emotions! but we can gain trust and Confidence so baby steps and learn who your dog is...
The 3-3-3 rule represents the phases of a rescue dog or common milestones your new dog or puppy will go through.
The 3-3-3 rule is the first 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months after bringing your dog home from the shelter.
So think about it, if you’ve ever started a new job or moved to a new school, you know the feeling; that sense of being in an unfamiliar place, new surroundings, new people, new rules. The first 3 days we had some peeing and pooing on the floor, I had to learn her schedule- which definitely was pooing straight after eating my previous dogs Moto and Bear and even Sprocket poop before eating. At any rate the first few days there were some accidents, don’t be alarmed this can happen but be patient. We are currently about to start our 10th month and we are just starting to see some more trust so again don't just assume things are going to become easy quickly.
First 3 days
Maybe scared and unsure of what is going on
Not comfortable enough to be themselves
May not want to eat or drink
Shut down and want to curl up in a crate or hide under/behind furniture
First 3 weeks
Starting to settle in
Feeling more comfortable
Realizing this could be their permanent home
Figured out environment and routines
Letting guard down and may start showing true colours
Behavioural issues may start to surface
First 3 months
Finally completely comfortable in the home
Building trust and a true bond
Gained a complete sense of security with their new family
Set in a routine
More to come in the following weeks - contact us today if you have recently adopted a rescue dog. maybe we can help!