It is wonderful to give such animals, from dogs and cats, to guinea pigs, ferrets, rabbits, birds and even reptiles a second chance at a quality life.
However, recue animals all come with some sort of history. No animal can tell us about its past life. While some have been well cared for prior to their abandonment, others have undoubtedly experienced abuse in various degrees. Many have had little or no training, except for the very basics at the shelter. Much loved pets rarely find their ways to an animal shelter where they may end up on death row!
For instance, my own darling Moggy Boy was dumped at the school where I worked. He was always a friendly and out-going individual and gave me endless love and devotion.
However, Moggy Boy was six months old by the time he came into my life. He had not been trained as a kitten that kitchen benches were off limits and correcting this took some effort.
A number of my friends have adopted rescue dogs.
One believed she was adopting a young dog, but when later vet checked her young dog turned out to be old and with a chronic illness that would prove a costly exercise needing monthly vet visits and expensive medication. The shelter she had adopted her boy from had claimed her dog had been vet checked, but she was given no certification of that check. By the time she had discovered her dog was old and had a chronic illness, she and the dog had bonded and fallen in love with each other. She was up for hefty bills for the rest of her dog's life and knew that life was not to be as long as she had initially believed, in good faith when she chose him at the shelter.
Reputable shelters will offer certified vet checks and also have a cooling off period, if anything goes wrong , for a couple of weeks after you have adopted the animal. Use only well known and reputable shelters who have vets on staff as part of their service, to avoid the circumstances my friend found herself in. The shelter concerned, did refund her purchase money when she communicated the inaccuracy of their so called vet check. The shelter in question claims never to put an animal down, but ensures rehoming to all. Reputable shelters rarely make such claims, for good reason. Some animals temperaments could endanger humans. Some animals have chronic health problems that will be an ongoing burden for a new owner, if a new home can be provided for such an animal, the new owner should be informed, from the beginning, of what such levels of care will involve and the associated costs. This is likely to put many potential new owners off. Animals in those categories, may well end up facing euthanasia. It is a sad reality. Shelter animals compete for limited numbers of homes. But there are many happy stories of successful adoptions of recue animals.
Another friend fell in love with a rescue dog that was lacking in confidence, often fearful and had never been trained to walk on a lead in city streets. She found it necessary to employ a dog trainer to help her little one gain confidence and learn how to relax and go for a walk. Her dog was by then about six and has since led a very happy life. Slowly she relaxed and gained confidence around humans and other animals.
Another friend has had many rescue dogs over the years. She chooses youngish dogs and until recently all her dogs proved excellent companions that soon settled into thier new home and way of life and rewarded her with excellent obedience and much love. That is until her most recent rescue dog placement. For the first two weeks, Helen and her new rescue boy were getting to know each other. Her little fella was in unfamiliar territory and not very confident, so on his best behaviour. However, once settled in and relaxed, Helen describes her new boy as turning into "the Monster". The "Monster" climbs up onto the kitchen bench and steals food. His favourite spot is on top of her table. He is digging trenches in her backyard. He steals food from the hands of ayone he can, and off plates left on coffee tables. Helen is in the process of teaching her "Monster" acceptable behaviour, but she has found the whole situation very stressful. She had expected her new boy to be as well behaved and mild mannered as her previous dogs. She just wanted a quiet, obedient companion and has instead got herself a very big challenge on her hands.
Chickens rescued or rehomed from factroy farms have to be taught how to forage and socialise with other chickens, they have learned not to associate humans with good experiences and can be a challenge to get them to adjust to a more natural, if freer environment.
So, if you are planning on adopting a rescue pet, remember it may come with many challenges. It may present you with unexpected and inappropriate behaviours. However, from my experience, once you discover its unique personality traits and correct any behavioural problems, you will be rewarded with a pet that does value and recognise that you have provided it with a secure and loving home. That was certainly the case with my beloved Moggy Boy.
Remember too, that even pure bred animals that come into our lives as quite young animals, from reputable breeders, can present challenges you have not anticipated, when you bring them into your life!
Rescued or otherwise, every pet is unique. Never be afraid to seek help from an experienced and reputable trainer if you are having trouble training your dog!
Your Pet's vet and sites like the RSPCA, offer wonderful advice on animal care and behaviour. You can also phone in and have questions answered on the ABCs 774, every Saturday morning at around 9.00 AM. Phone 1300 774 774, to speak with vets, including RSPCA's Dr Hugh Wirth, or Dr Sasha Herbert of Melbourne University.