What I Wish I Knew Before Rescuing A Dog
In August of 2017, I took the plunge and rescued Ziggy from the Pack Leaders Rescue In East Hartford, CT. I had been looking for dogs on PetFinder.com for a couple of months and fell in love with Ziggy (formerly named Tango) as soon as I saw his happy little face and ears that are just slightly too small for his body.
I didn't know much about Ziggy other than he was a 25 pound, 1 year old "jumping bean" who was transported from a shelter in Arkansas to Connecticut for a better chance at finding a home. I was so nervous to adopt a dog of my own for the first time but I have ZERO regrets. But there are some things I wish I had known before I rescued him:
You never what you're going to get. Although Ziggy was a happy, energetic, friendly ball of energy when I met him at the shelter, I quickly came to realize that his real personality is very different. Once he became comfortable with me, I started to see his anxiety come through - I found that he has fears around men and strange large objects that he doesn't recognize. I would never have guessed that he would be so skittish in new environments because the excitement of leaving the rescue masked his previous trauma.
Training can be a little more difficult. The first year of a puppy's life is so crucial because it is the key time in their life to get them accustomed to new people, dogs, environments, and routines. Since I missed that time in Ziggy's life, it has been very difficult to get him used to things like teeth brushing, nail clipping, and letting the vets handle him during exams. I've come to work around these things and find ways to make these experiences a little less stressful, but I don't think it will ever be as easy for him or me since he wasn't exposed to these things as a puppy. So listen up puppy parents - expose your pup to EVERYTHING! You'll be thankful later when your dog lets you clip their nails and brush their teeth without having to break a sweat.
His background. With the excitement of meeting him, I didn't take the time to ask the rescue about his previous life. Had I asked, I might have been able to adjust to his fears and anxiety better than finding out along the way. Write down all of your questions and bring them with you so that you don't forget.
You'll spend more money than you think you will. Before getting Ziggy, I made a monthly and yearly spending budget so that I could prepare for the financial commitment I was about to make. But I did not take into account the extra fun things that I love to spoil him with and the unexpected expenses, like the $2,500 dental exam and cleaning that he needed.
The extra time in your day goes to your pup. But hey, no complaints about that here! I love spending as much time with Ziggy as I can - if stay-at-home dog mom was a well paying profession, I would be all in. But sadly enough, it's not. Being in college when I adopted him, there were many times where I had to choose him over my friends because he needed a walk, a bath, training, or just simply some more attention after a busy day. Of course I learned how to balance my time so that I could go to class, hang out with Ziggy, and do things with my friends, but I learned quickly that he is my top priority and bringing him for walks and teaching him new commands helped to create the strong bond that we have now.
Training is endless. Before becoming a dog mom to Ziggy, I thought the only commands I had to teach him were sit, stay, down, paw, and come. Done right? Once he's got those down he's good for life? Nope. Not at all. Ziggy and I bonded the most during training sessions because it enforces trust and praise and since dogs are pack animals, it gave him a pack leader to follow. I've not only taught him fun things like spin and play dead, I have also worked on commands like "touch", where he touches an object with his nose. I have been using this command to show him it's okay to approach items that he's timid around. I have also been working on ways to teach him not to fear and bark at men. We're still working on this one.
Our first day together :)
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