Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Many years ago, I went with a friend of mine to adopt a dog from the local shelter. They already had two dogs and wanted to add another. She picked out a sad looking black lab mix and put him in the car. On the way home, I happened to read the information card on the new addition. Only then were we aware that the dog had been turned into the shelter because he did not get along with other dogs and was aggressive. My friend, his new owner just shrugged and said, we'll work it out.

Well guess what, Buck never showed even the smallest aggression toward any dog or person in the house. He got along wonderfully with everyone and lived a very long, happy and healthy life. If we had read the card before selecting Buck, would he have gone home with us? How many others had passed him by who had read the card. What was the environment at his first home that caused him to be turned into a shelter because he didn't get along with other dogs?
New arrivals should be introduced on leashes with a different handler on each lead and in neutral territory if at all possible. After the first introduction, the animals should be separated with supervised time together at intervals until there is an invitation to play from the resident dog or until it is obvious from their interaction that no harm is intended.
Often times, when BTRNC first posts a rescue bio, we will indicate issues about getting along with other dogs or cats. We want to let potential adopters know as much as possible about our rescues. It is just as true that we often update the bio at a later time to remove that item because the rescue has learned to feel secure or has learned the fine art of play and no longer as fearful or aggressive of other dogs.
Stitch is a rescue who has some issues to overcome with other dogs. She has made some significant improvements with some of her issues. When joining rescue, Stitch was a dog darter who would bolt out the door from fear, not sure if the greater threats were inside or outside her foster home. She was also very nervous around all other dogs, again she was afraid.
Her foster Mom plays soothing CDs to help her switch focus from barking dogs. Stitch has had lots of opportunities to meet dogs of all temperaments and can show tolerance to mellow and calm dogs. She is still unpredictable and does not always back down at the retreat or submissive posture of another dog. There is still more work to be done.
In the meantime, Stitch is an example of the thin line between aggression and pack order. She is a beautiful and sweet dog. We know she would do well as an only dog. Would she do well in a different environment with other dogs? This is something that would need to be explored with Foster Mom and prospective adopter.
We will never truly know what dogs know and why they act one way in one home, and another in a different environment. Just one of the many personality traits that makes us humans so fascinated by them!
If you would like to learn more about Stitch, please follow the contact link on our home page so a rescue volunteer can work with you.


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