I rescued my dog Grace a whopping six years ago! It’s crazy that much time has passed since the day I brought her home.
Grace is a pit mix and was born on a street somewhere in Phoenix. The mother abandoned the litter and a good samaritan called the pound when they found the puppies in an alley.
They were sick, malnourished, flea infested and just a few days old. Luckily, with love and care, most of the puppies survived and were able to be adopted out.
When I stumbled upon Grace at an adoption fair held at PetsMart I knew instantly that she was the dog for me. I loved her soft demeanor, her gentle personality, and her adorable face.
Little did I know when rescuing a dog there was going to be a few hurdles we would have to overcome.
I didn’t know how scared she would be
For the first few weeks Grace was afraid of everything. She slept almost all day and showed zero interest in playing or going outside. At first I thought she may be sick, but then I found out this response was from pure exhaustion.
She had been in the pound from practically day one, and then in and out of foster homes before I adopted her. The constant uncertainty of where she was headed to next, having to adjust to a new place and new face, was tiring and emotionally draining on her. Needless to say if you ever adopt a pet be aware they will need time to adjust to you and their new surroundings.
I wasn’t sure if she would be food aggressive
This is certainly a possibility, but what I’ve found out is that it doesn’t matter if they are a rescue. Food aggression is found in dogs that were born from a breeder in a happy home and not necessarily a trait pound puppies have or acquire. All dogs, regardless of where they come from, can develop food aggressive behavior. It’s a learned trait that can be rehabilitated.
Grace was never food aggressive, but I certainly did the food test with her because another dog was in the house. I continued performing the test for the first few weeks. She always passed.
It took her a while to open up
I truly didn’t get to see and learn about her personality until roughly three or so weeks after her adoption. She didn’t really play, jump, run around, bark, or even engage with the other dog for some time. I remember the first time she let out a little bark of excitement and she not only shocked me, but herself as well.
Rescue dogs can have a dark and sad past, and it can take them extended amounts of time to open up and show their personality. They have to feel comfortable and trust that where they are now is a safe and happy environment. Having patience and an understanding of this is important when rescuing a dog.
She had separation anxiety that became destructive
Grace followed me literally everywhere. She would be sound asleep at my feet and I would get up to get a drink of water and she would get up and follow me to the kitchen.
Where I went she went. She would sit next to me when I did the laundry, cleaned the bathroom, or folded clothes. She would lay next to the shower when I was bathing. She was never out of my sight.
At first this seemed cute until she started wailing every time I left the house. She would break out of her kennel and destroy things, and I quickly learned what separation anxiety in a dog could do to them.
Teaching her I was coming back and not leaving forever took a while and stopping her destroying things took even longer. She remained kennel trained for the first few years. Eventually, her anxiety settled and her destructive behavior decreased, but to this day she will get a wild hair and grab something random, pull it down and leave it there for me to find on the floor.
The bond and love that develops is unlike anything you will ever experience
The best part of rescuing a dog is hands down the bond you two will form. Through the ups and downs you both are going through it together, and they recognize and appreciate it.
Grace and I are partners in crime. We share a love that is unlike anything I ever felt for a pet. Perhaps this comes from all the hard work we both put in to adjusting and figuring out life after the pound. And not only do I take care of her, but she takes care of me as well.
When I’m sad or not feeling well she is right by my side. We know that in the end neither one of us walked away when things got hard and you know, a rescue dog you’re willing to put the time into will in turn rescue you.