We interviewed Carol about her dog adoption story. It features Radish the Jack Russell terrier, the lessons she’s learnt and the advice she has for other dog lovers wishing to adopt a dog.
What made you decide to adopt a dog?
My parents always had dogs when I was at home – a real range from a terrier to a Corgi, a boxer to a Sealyham so a house doesn’t feel like a home without one. I myself have had 2 dogs –Terriers, one as a puppy and one a rescue, at about 19 months old. The last one had to be put down aged 14. I miss him terribly so I decided to have another.
How did you go about looking for a dog to adopt?
Having made the decision, we looked on line at what was available at the local dog’s homes and visited them to ask questions about their process. We also looked at what was available in the local rescue centres and even made a trip to The Dog’s Trust in Salisbury.
We soon realized that it was a very strict process they went through before they would let you adopt. Once we had our summer break and as I had 2 further weeks off work, we felt that this would be the best time to adopt as we could all give the dog the most time to settle in. We looked at the websites and decided there were 2 dogs we were interested in. When we got to both places, we were told that neither of the dogs was ready for adoption and there was nothing else available.
We asked if they knew of any other organisations and they mentioned one that we previously hadn’t heard of – Mutts with Friends. After a quick phone call, we found that they had a young terrier called Radish, which might be a possibility.
We visited Radish that day and on the following day and the day after that, we took him for a walk. He was very friendly and lively! We had a home visit to ensure that we had suitable accommodation and that the garden was secure. Once that had been established we were allowed to take Radish home.
How has the adoption experience been?
Much harder than I had expected and Radish is much harder work that all my previous dogs put together! At times it felt like it was a joyless experience. Whist Radish appeared very friendly in the rescue centre he was very different once he came into the house. He reacted very badly to being told what to do and would not only show his teeth, but then lunge at you!
It was quite a scary experience! Despite the fact that I have had dogs all my life I needed the support of a dog trainer to help me to learn how to gain his trust and to recognize that he wasn’t going to bite me (at least that’s what the trainer said!)
How is Radish progressing?
It has been very hard work and there have been times when we have wondered if we have made a big mistake. For weeks I was never very sure that he wasn’t going to bite me. Five months later, I do feel that he has made progress. He is great out on his walks and is really good with other dogs.
We can leave him on his own in the house and he settles really well. Most times he is good at nighttime. On the less positive side, we have had to do a lot of training, not just on the normal things you would expect, like sit and stay, but on things like Radish being tolerant of us using the washing machine, ironing, opening the back door and using a mixer to make cakes!
For weeks it felt as if Radish viewed us as just another group of adults who were feeding and walking him. It is only in the last few weeks that I am sensing that he might just like us a little more!
What advice have you been given?
We’ve had 5 sessions with the dog trainer beginning first with exercises to gain the dog’s trust before moving onto exercises which enables me to do things that I need to do – like using the washing machine! The big shift for me was not to say no and to keep everything positive and reward him ALL THE TIME! That took me a long time to change the way I have been with dogs before, but it does seem to be working.
What advice would you give to someone considering adoption?
Take the advice of the dogs’ homes and rescue centres. Find out as much as possible about the dog before you make the decision. Don’t rush into it and be prepared that it may take a long time for the dog to settle in especially if your dog has had more than one previous home as ours had! I do currently still have all my fingers and thumbs, but we’ve still got a long way to go...
I can't wait to follow up with Radish in a few weeks and give you guys more to the story. Dog adoption is a wonderful thing and sharing stories like this are great for anyone out there thinking of getting a new dog to read!
Being a dog owner is a big responsibility and every dog deserves a loving home and someone who can take the time to understand them! It will be one of the most rewarding experiences. Keep an eye out for the rest of Radish's story soon to come here!
Love Rupert the Westie
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