Book Excerpt: Forever Home by Maura Furie
Forever Home – A Guide To ReHoming The Rescued Dog by Maura Furie
Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their two young children moved from an apartment into a small house with a fenced in yard. With a new baby on the way and new carpeting installed, they decided it was time to add a puppy to their family. Mr. Smith’s Uncle Ted had a Labrador Retriever who was a very good dog, obedient and gentle. Mr. Smith wanted the same kind of dog.
Mrs. Smith asked other Lab owners what they thought of their dogs and was told that Labs are good family dogs.
Labrador Retrievers are good with children, love to play, are natural retrievers, and good hunting dogs. Mr. Smith would like to have a bird dog when he hunts with his brother in October, and likes the fact that Labs look macho, but are really soft. Because Labs require heavy exercise, Mr. Smith agreed to walk the dog at least two miles every day once it was old enough.
Mrs. Smith found a breeder nearby who had done genetic testing and hip x-rays on their breeding stock. The breeder would not let the puppies go until they were ten weeks old, at which time Mr. and Mrs. Smith visited. Of a litter of nine, four puppies were promised to hunters looking for show prospects. The Smiths gave the remaining five puppies a temperament test and chose a black male with a waggedy tail. They named him Champ.
Champ was cute and cuddly and fast enough to get away from the baby.
Mrs. Smith placed vinyl tarps all over her new carpeting, Mrs. Smith fixed a hole in the fence, and all was well. The Smiths and their three children loved the puppy. Unexpectedly, Champ became bigger and bigger. And bigger. Typical of his breed, Champ took a long time to housebreak because of his slowness to mature both physically and mentally. Like other Labrador Retrievers, Champ liked to carry things in his mouth, and he liked to chew. And chew some more. He was given chew toys, but he did not stop there and his teeth marks appeared on the furniture, the wood molding, the car upholstery, and school books. Mrs. Smith, busy raising three children and working at a part time job, did not have time to train Champ, even if she had known how. Mr. Smith was going to walk the dog every day, but he was too tired most of the time. The kids were knocked over by Champ every time he stood up, and he chewed up their toys.
Tired of the big dog and all his messes, Mrs. Smith enrolled Champ in an obedience class when he was two years old. Although he did well in class, he still chewed up the children’s toys, knocked the kids over, and Mr. Smith was the only one who could walk Champ, if he used a prong collar, but he was too tired. By three years of age, Champ had exhausted the limits of his family, and a new baby was on the way. The decision was made to rehome Champ.
At the local shelter small dogs are rehomed quickly.
Large dogs wait longer and often do not find a new home. Because Mr. Smith was concerned that Champ may be euthanized should be be dropped off at the shelter, he called the shelter first to discuss the matter. After all, Champ was a really good dog. The shelter had a list of people looking for a well bred young Lab from a family environment. After making a few phone calls, Mrs. Smith contacted those people on the list who lived in rural areas. He and the children, with Champ, visited a family who had lots of room for an energetic dog.
As you probably realize, Champ was very lucky to have had a family that cared enough about their dog to be careful in choosing a new home for him. Most people who give up a pet leave it at an animal shelter where an untrained dog is just another cellmate.
Where did they go wrong?
Seeing another person with a well trained dog, Mr. and Mrs. Smith thought that choosing the proper breed was the key to success. They did not have a clue as to how much patience and training had gone into the making of Uncle Ted’s dog. They did not realize that Uncle Ted’s dog had not always been so well behaved, or that she was given a sufficient amount of exercise. For the Smiths, a better choice than a ten week old hunting breed for canine companionship would have been a grown dog from a non-hunting line. They would have been much happier with a dog that was already housebroken and had basic training. Even if they had chosen an active breed, everyone would have been happier with a dog small enough for the oldest child to walk.
Rescuing a dog like Champ is not a scary task. He is good with children, is finally housebroken, has been neutered, and has a stable temperament. Champ’s new family immediately took him to task, consistently but kindly making him mind and giving him plenty of exercise. With the ability to work off his energy, Champ stopped chewing everything in sight, keeping his teeth to appropriate chew toys and large knuckle bones. He learned not to jump on people and to sit nicely at the door before entering or exiting the house.
Had the Smiths not been so caring in rehoming Champ, the situation may have been different. Had another family adopted Champ, say the Clueless family, his stable temperament and gentle nature would not have saved him. Here, Champ jumps on Mom and is yelled at; jumps on Dad and gets rubbed behind the ears; jumps on the kids and gets hit. His exercise consists of being let out in the yard for potty breaks. Instead of a high quality dog food, he is fed the cheapest food available at the grocery store.
Because he jumps on the children, chews the possessions of others, and smells bad, he spends more and more time in the back yard. Left to his own devices, he discovers that digging is not only fun, but helps to relieve some of his pent up energy. One day his digging creates a lovely hole under the fence. He is free to roam the neighborhood. Mr. Clueless clips a heavy chain onto Champ’s collar. No more wandering.
Champ has an accident in the hallway several nights in a row because the poor quality dog food he is fed upsets his digestive system, and nobody will get out of bed at 2:00 a.m. to let him outside. He is relegated to being in the back yard all night as well as all day. He barks all night. Nobody can sleep and the neighbors complain. Champ is brought to the animal shelter. He is five years old and untrained. He does not find a new home.
What we have learned:
Be realistic in choosing a puppy or dog
If you had a dog as a child, who fed the dog, walked the dog, trained the dog, and cleaned up after the dog? If it wasn’t you, then you do not have experience.
By the way, the Smiths now have another dog, Prince, of unknown parentage. Prince was almost two when they got him, weighs about half of what Champ did, and already had basic training and good manners when he came to live with them. Prince has a forever home, and the Smiths are very happy with him.
To order your copy of Forever Home, A Guide to ReHoming the Rescued Dog go to http://foreverhomebook.net or http://wildrosepress.biz. For a review of the book, visit TCM Reviews at http://www.tcm-ca.com/reviews/3228.html. Buttoned Up is also giving away three copies of the book! Don’t forget to enter to win your copy today!