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7 Things to Try Before Surrendering Your Dog

The dreaded “It’s not working out” phone call. It happens in rescue more than most people would believe. A good rescue, as well as a good breeder, will always take their dog back – but the ability to return a misbehaving dog, may just be the impetus of the problem.

Faced with the option of a high-kill rate shelter or “the rescue will just find her another home” many adopters opt for option 2 and dump the dog they’ve committed to for 15 plus years back on the rescue as someone else’s problem. The reality is, many of the behavior problems encountered are the fault of the owner and not the dog itself.

Take Sara, a very high-strung, busy, young German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) being returned a third time to our rescue. A pure-bred GSP is typically bred for as a versatile hunter and all-purpose gun dog per the American Kennel Club. This type of dog, based solely on the intent of her breeding, will innately require a different living environment than perhaps a Great Dane who are known couch potatoes. As a sporting dog, Sara’s owners needed to realize that most require regular, invigorating exercise – without that regular exercise, a dog must find other outlets for their energy.

In Sara’s case, without the regular exercise, her outlet became digging up the backyard. For her owners, who were renting their home, they felt this was an unresolvable behavior that required her to be returned.

But what can you do when your dog is being destructive, or aggressive, or exhibiting other inappropriate behaviors that make you consider surrendering her to shelter? We’ve identified 7 solutions to help you identify and resolve those behavior problems before your consider the shelter option.

  1. Research your dog’s breed(s): Starting with a history of your dog’s breed purpose may just help you identify why your dog is misbehaving and how you can solve the problem. Sara is hunting dog and requires activity similar to her hunting background. Herding dogs’ pure instinct prompts many of these dogs to gently herd their owners, especially children. Dogs in the working group are bred for guarding property, pulling sleds and performing water rescues and while you may not need to stage a rescue effort – these dogs enjoying working. This information is invaluable in helping you understand why your dog is behaving the way it is and may help you identify means of channeling their behavior into a activity that is more instinctual and satisfying to your dog than the misbehavior they are currently exhibiting.

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Recycled Dog Launches the Million Dog Memorial

We wanted to kick off this week of being most thankful with a bang by announcing the OFFICIAL launch of the Million Dog Memorial!  The Million Dog Memorial was created to honor our lost companions while raising awareness for shelter and rescue animals. A percentage of the profits from this memorial will be donated to animal welfare groups to assist in the care and placement of the animals in their programs while the rest will be used to support our education and advocacy programs.

The memorial is limited to the first one million dogs placed on the grid – after that the grid will be locked and unchangeable as a fixed tribute to these beloved pets.

We will support local animal welfare programs through donations made possible by this program based on the distribution of memorials by area. The more memorials from a given area means more donations to your local organizations!

The Million Dog Memorial will be closed when have memorialized one million cherished best friends.  Please create a dog memorial now and be a part of something uncommon that not only celebrates your best friends but also helps to find homes for the thousands of animals currently without the love of a family and place to call home.

Be sure to share the news with your friends and families so your local organizations can receive a portion of the donations!

My Dog Angel

Hi! My name is Jan. On May 5, 2010, I adopted a two-year-old poodle/terrier mix from our local shelter, Animal Allies. I named her Angel. She came from another shelter as a stray, had been abused, was very skinny, and she was extremely shy and afraid of everyone. I fell in love with her immediately. Within weeks, with lots of love, patience, and socializing with other tenants and pets, she was a totally different dog. I live alone and have MS, and she was perfect for me. We would take care of each other. We live in a high-rise building on Lake Superior with other seniors and/or disabled tenants. Fatigue and pain are my worst symptoms and, on my bad days if I’m up trying to do things around the apartment, she’ll go on my bed and whine until I go and lay down. She then lies down right beside me.

Ever since I got her, she’s been an absolutely wonderful dog. She seems to be grateful for everything and anything I do for her, even bringing me her favorite toy or treat when I’m feeling bad. She is now the happiest and most popular dog in the building, she’s my little soul mate, and she loves everybody!! She’s such a good dog, never misbehaves, never snaps or barks at anyone, and she has to go and give kisses to everyone she sees in the building. We go for a run every day when the weather permits, and I love her more than anyone could imagine. We especially love playing in the snow, which we get lots of here in Minnesota!

I want to share a small miracle. At 1:30 a.m. on the night of September 21, 2011, Angel became restless and woke me up. I rarely go out late at night, as Angel will also go potty on a puppy pad in addition to going outside. On this night, because of her behavior, I decided to go ahead and take her out since she was whining and seemed anxious. I got dressed and took her out. I have to take her around to the parking lot side of our building back by our garage. Since she stays by me either on or off the leash and, since she was pulling me as hard as she could and whining, I figured she had to really go, so I just unhooked her leash. Instead of going back to the grass, she ran into the parking lot and went between two vehicles. When I got there, I found Angel sitting next to one of our tenants who was on the ground lying in a fetal position, his walker nearby. When I got down to ask what happened, he could only say he fell and wasn’t fully conscious. He only had on shorts and a light jacket although it was 38 degrees! He couldn’t move and said he recently had surgery on both knees and was in a lot of pain. I feared he may also have broken something. After calling 911, I asked him how long he had been lying on the cold pavement, and he said “about an hour, I think.”

I got my knees under his head to get it off the ground and tried to cover him with my body to keep him warm, he was freezing!! We stayed like that with Angel right by him until the police and ambulance got there. He was quickly transferred to the gurney, bundled in warm blankets, and was on the way to the hospital. When I told them Angel’s name, they said it was definitely the perfect name for her. I have no idea how she knew; we’re on the 11th floor facing the lake, windows closed, and with a small fan running. I had taken my coat off and had it on the man’s legs, so I was really cold and went back inside as soon as they had him safely in the ambulance. When we got back inside, I realized Angel never went potty outside and then realized she had urinated on her puppy pad already, prior to us going out! The police and paramedics all said she certainly deserved a treat, and she got her favorite Puperoni and lots of hugs, kisses, and praise from me! The next day, I called the hospital and talked to the tenant whose name is Wayne. He told me he had suffered a severe heart attack and had no idea why he had been outside by his van at that hour! I went to see him at the hospital since another tenant found his glasses the next day, and I also took him a picture of Angel. He kept thanking me, and I told him it was God and Angel he should thank.

For whatever reason, Angel knew this man was in trouble and was determined to get me up and outside. I’ve always felt that shelter animals are special animals, and I’m blessed to have found my Angel.

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Rescuing a Purebred Puppy

A few weeks ago we received an exciting call into the rescue from an associate. Our associate works as a trainer at one of the large pet supply stores and regularly interacts with our rescue group. She had received a frantic call that morning from a woman looking to find a rescue group to take her dog – a 10 week old puppy.

Apparently this family had purchased two puppies from a local breeder and after two weeks had determined that two puppies at once were too difficult to handle. They had tried to return the puppy to the breeder with no avail and were desperate to find a safe place for this puppy. Here is the kicker, the puppy being surrendered was the purebred, white/yellow, English Labrador Retriever pictured in this article.

According the National Council on Pet Population and Study (NCPPSP), 25% of all shelter and rescue dogs are purebred. So adoption is definitely a viable option for families who have convinced themselves that the most appropriate dog for their family is a purebred dog. Most breeds have dedicated rescue groups that take in purebred and mixed versions of a particular breed, but you will also find purebred animals in shelters and non-breed specific rescues.

Purebred animals are surrendered for all of the same reasons as mixed breed dogs: chewing, barking, destruction, too much work, can no longer afford, don’t have the time to exercise appropriately – which almost always boils down to lack of exercise, training and responsible ownership on the part of the human. Clearly – at 10 weeks old – a puppy wouldn’t have even had much of a chance to develop bad behavior – so this puts the onus of a puppy surrender back on the humans who apparently bit off more than they could chew – so to speak.

Not only is rescuing a purebred more palatable to most people’s wallets ($400-$3000) for most puppies from a breeder vs. $75-$300 for adoption fees, but rescuing also reduces the demand for puppy mill puppies purchased in pet stores which have been raised in deplorable conditions and typically have been bred with little concern about propagating health issues down a line.

Many of the breed rescues will have waiting lists for puppies and young dogs as they are typically more requested than older dogs – but assuming you can wait a while for your new family member, you can find the perfect purebred animal to suit your tastes.

Bailey, the surrendered puppy,  now happily resides in our home with her big sister Guinness, a black lab rescued at four months old.  I guess that is one of the perks of volunteering for a rescue – you get the pick of the “rescue” litter. Now go out and volunteer… we need your help!


Should We Turn Our Backs on Animals in the Wake of a Natural Disaster?

It’s amazing how, in the wake of a natural disaster, people have the knack of imposing their personal agenda on everyone else with the intention of appearing let’s call it more “humanitarian”. When in reality the actions of a true humanitarian would in truth call for kindness, benevolence and impartiality for all humans. Let’s take an example.

A local politician, who is very much an animal welfare advocate, shared a story about Sophie, an injured chocolate Labrador Retriever, on his personal Facebook page. While the story itself told of the heroism, concern, and selflessness of a group of people working together to nurse Sophie back to health, a comment on Facebook from a supporter of this politician took an ugly turn in the name of “humanitarianism”.

This man’s comments questioned if the money that had been spent on the dog’s recovery wouldn’t have been better spent on homelessness or even the tragedy in Japan. His comments implied that according to his priorities, the care of people and their underprivileged situation should always come before the needs of any animal. He also questioned what part of the rescue of this dog was heroic commenting that only those who help people are heroic.

From his perspective, anybody not supporting his viewpoint of “humans first” was in the wrong with no chance of convincing him otherwise. What this short-sighted commenter wouldn’t concede to was a number of well thought out comments made by another poster that “good is good, and helping is helping, and this dog deserved help, too. ” She goes on to comment that “We all have our ’causes’ and obviously, yours is not animal welfare, and that’s your choice, but it is my cause, and I don’t think it makes me wrong, and it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t support other causes as well. ” Her final comment of “Some people always want to see the negative and criticize, but I prefer to think of this as just one of many good things happening in this world” should have cinched her rebuttal but clearly feel upon deaf ears.

While we all understand and sympathize with the massive devastation caused by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan and its impact on life there, the charitable causes that were here prior to this disaster still exist here after the disaster. Nobody is asking the Humane Society of the United States or the ASPCA to drop everything they are doing locally and funnel all of their funds and their efforts into helping another cause – even during a natural disaster. The people who helped Sophie chose to focus their energy into a cause that is important to them and no one should make them feel as if they should have done something else with their money.

We applaud the McLaughlin’s and the other organizations rallying for Sophie’s recovery. We hope the “un-humanitarian” comments from this one unenlightened person are never read by you – Sophie’s angels. And to Joe-negative commenter, do yourself a favor and educate yourself on why anyone with a real humanitarian focus would never make another human that is doing something good feel bad about it.