Thursday, October 2, 2014

Preparedness - Rescue Dog Mistakes - A Series

I took this photo on the morning Zoe and I went to meet Phoenix at OHS.
"Really, Mom?? We're doing what?!?"

Doesn't Zoe look thrilled?

This is my new series on my mistakes with my rescue dogs. I'm going to do these posts at least once or twice a month on Thursdays. In these posts I will talk about some of the mistakes that I think I made and what I would do differently. I hope that reading about my journey with my two rescue girls will be helpful to anyone else looking to get a dog.

The first mistake I want to talk a little bit about is not being prepared for a new dog. I was not prepared for Phoenix at all, even though I knew I'd probably be bringing her home. Sure, I had some extra dog stuff on hand and the only thing I had to buy right away was a second crate (Which was a huge improvement over Zoe's adoption where I had nothing dog related and we spent several hours at the pet store after we got her.) but there are some other little things that I wish I had done that would of made things easier on everybody!

The first mistake was that morning, I should of ate breakfast. I totally forgot to take care of myself! I was so excited that I pretty much jumped out of bed, quickly got ready to go and left with Zoe. I didn't really think much of it but adopting a dog can be a really long process. I can't remember exactly how long we were at the shelter but it felt like hours. We got there about an hour after they opened and I don't think we got home until sometime around maybe 3 in the afternoon. That's a long time to go without food!! I actually ended up getting a really bad tension/migraine headache that day. I think it was because of the stress and not eating.

The other thing that's really important is to know your shelter's policies. At the time of adopting Phoenix, OHS had a policy where they will put a four hour hold on the dog you want to adopt for free. They also offer other options for holding the dog for a small fee and the money goes towards your adoption. I wish I had utilized that 4 hour hold! If I had done the four hour hold I could of gotten some lunch and it would of been more time to think the adoption through and get ready for my new dog. I also could of gone to the pet store and gotten that crate!

Phoenix was extremely skittish when I got her. The shelter staff even told me I'd never be able to let her off the leash and that she was a flight risk, she'd run away for sure, etc. I have never had or even dealt with in my career such a skittish dog. I've dealt with a lot of scared dogs but nothing like this. That in and of itself was stressful. I had no idea how she was going to react to anything and even getting her down the stairs and into our house was a problem.

Zoe & Phoenix on the ride home from OHS. Photo Credit: Jeff Gragg

The next problem was my cats. My cats are not shy cats. Every dog that has been to my house has had to run the cat gauntlet. They are some tough kitties and they want to greet everyone who comes over. They are usually waiting at the door! Oh how I wish I had taken the time to lock up my cats. 

My cats scared the crap out of Phoenix, to the point that she peed herself, then started growling and barking at them. She was so scared and it was so sad. If I had just left her in the car and taken those 5 minutes to put the cats in the bedroom I could of avoided all of that. 

 The mean kitty brigade! 

We definitely had a very rocky start!  

To recap: Be prepared BEFORE you bring the dog home. Having all the supplies you would need for the new dog first is really important. It honestly just makes life and those first few days so much easier. Eat breakfast (or whatever meal applies), don't forget to take care of yourself!! You will need all your strength and energy to deal with the new dog and lock up your other animals so that your  dog has time to settle down in their new environment. Transitioning to a new home can be very stressful and if you have mean kitties like I do, it's a good idea to put them away for a few hours so the dog can acclimate.  

Here's a list of items I highly recommend having before you bring the new dog home:
  • Collar and Leash
  • Food and Water bowls
  • Food and Treats
  • Chews and toys  (we love Kong products)
  • Crate (if possible, sometimes it's hard to know what size you will need)
  • Dog Bed
  • Baby Gates (not everyone will need these, but they are so useful) 
  • Long drag Line (optional, but I needed it for my skittish dog) 
I also recommend puppy proofing your house before the new dog comes home, even if you are bringing in an adult dog. Pick up all your valuables and put everything away and out of reach. That way you don't have to worry about them getting into anything they shouldn't and you will be off to an awesome start. 

Another great tip is to keep things very low key when you get home. I know that it can be exciting bringing in a new dog but I think it's very important to consider the dog's feelings as well. It can generally be a bit scary and stressful for them initially when they are transitioning into a new home. I recommend keeping things pleasant, but also mellow and calm. Don't invite a ton of guests over to meet the new dog and make sure your kids give the new dog plenty of space. 

After the fiasco with Phoenix and my cats, I ended up placing her in her crate in our quiet spare bedroom and covering it up for a few hours so she could calm down.  

October 7 is Phoenix's 2nd Gotcha Day. Be sure to keep an eye out for her special Birthday post with her adoption story! It's going to be a long one! <3

So those are my first mistakes. I have many more to share with you! Let me know what you think about my new series. I'd also love to read your "new" dog stories, too!! 


  1. Baby gate!! Definitely a god send in my case!!

    1. Yeah, ours too! We ended up borrowing one.

  2. This is such a great idea for a series. I made plenty of mistakes with my first dogs and even when I thought I was an experienced dog owner, I made more with Ruby. I think I did okay with Boca, maybe because she came in as a foster and I was less emotional about it? Also she's such an easygoing dog.

    Phoenix's poor little carsick face makes me do the frowny smile!

    1. Thank you!! I feel the same way. I thought I was experienced, too.. I mean I worked with dogs every single day but Phoenix was a brand new challenge. :) Her little carsick face.. poor baby.

  3. I made mistakes with Delilah too, it's hard to know. This series will definitely help people know what to do/not to do.

    Thanks for adding it to the blog hop!!

  4. This is a great post. The two animals we got as adults, a Golden Retriever before the Chessies and our cat, we were not at all prepared. The Golden was 14 months old and his breeder decided not to breed him so wanted a nice family for him. There were others interested in him. So hubby and I were just going to look, not buy a dog. Well he liked us and we liked him and he had all health clearances so we bought him. Our first dog. We had nothing. Not even a leash. The breeder gave us a length of rope to get him in the car and we stopped at the pet store on the way home.

    The kitty was the same way. Went to a pet store to buy something for Thunder. They had rescue kitties and we saw one and adopted her. We weren't even thinking of a kitty. I guess we must have pet parent faces because the rescue sent the kitty right home with us and it only took long enough to fill out the papers. Had to shop for cat stuff at the store. Didn't even have a carrier. :)

    Thanks so much for joining the hop!

    1. Thank you! Yeah, we've had a lot of unplanned adoptions, too!! Haha!

  5. I seriously love these posts. <3 I think this is definitely an advantage when you go the breeder route; you know what you're getting, the rough size, and have time to prepare!

    1. Yeah, definitely for sure! Going to a breeder definitely has it's advantages!!

  6. I think we definitely all make mistakes in some way or another, and I thank you for sharing your story!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  7. Thanks for sharing your insights! I'm looking forward to reading Phoenix's adoption story!


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