Monday, April 25, 2016


We haven't been around and it after a few inquires it seemed like it was time to come back and talk about it. Bailey is fine, but changed by what happened as are all of us.

We heard about an available Sheltie right before Easter weekend. We went down to meet the dog the weekend after Easter and brought him home. While I haven't written to her, I can only thank Dachshund Nola's Mom for sharing her rescue experiences because it helped me think through what we were experiencing and to understand we couldn't accept what had happened. Perhaps sharing this may help others who have to make tough decisions when rescuing or encourage rescues to be more honest in what they tell potential adopters.

The one hard fast rule we had when approaching another rescue dog was that the dog had to be compatible with the two we had, no exceptions. We won't accept an aggressive dog. We were lied to and feel betrayed and after almost a month still angry. It is one thing not to know a history of a dog and make a bad placement. It is another to know a dog has problems and not disclose those issues to a prospective owner, thinking perhaps they will deal with it and not bring the dog back.

We had looked on the website and had seen several younger, very tempting dogs that were clearly labeled as not being able to be adopted with other dogs, in homes with other male dogs, male owners, etc. Not all dogs are listed on the website, the policy has always been that they will call people with applications on file with a match first. So, we had some confidence when we got the call that we would be getting a dog that was compatible with a male and female dog, since this dog hadn't been listed and they screened applications for compatibility. He was older than we'd hoped for, but we were willing to adopt a senior if he was a good match for our other two and we'd not have to deal with aggression issue.

Sadly, this was not the case and they knew it before they ever contacted us. This is what has taken me so long to calm down enough to write about is the anger and frustration this caused. None of this would have happened if honesty had been at the center of this adoption discussion. The dog had come in with a female and they were adopted separately. This we only discovered because two names were listed on the dog's adoption folder. This in itself is not unusual. Sadly, it is hard to find homes for one senior. Finding someone who can take on the challenge of two senior dogs can be insurmountable. However, in this case placing them together was never considered. We only discovered the full story after returning the dog. He had been very aggressive towards his female housemate and it was determined she would be happier away from him. Who thought placing him with another female was a good idea!!!!

I do take some of the blame I didn't listen to my gut. This is an important message I think all of us need to understand. There is a profound difference between doubts and a gut instinct that is telling you something is wrong. I had some questions when we got Katy because we were going in blind with her. They provided little background information on her. However, she didn't show any signs of aggression, more of shyness and fear. I had concerns, but I wasn't feeling that gut instinct, more mentally trying to figure out how we'd work around her challenges. With this dog it was different. My gut was screaming at me we were making a mistake when we were signing the paperwork for this dog. While I told myself I'd had the same concerns when we'd picked up Katy, I knew I was lying to myself. This situation was very different. We should have walked away.

When we brought him home he attacked Bailey and attempted the same behaviors with Katy that I found out later he had used on his previous housemate. His triggers were not consistent. He could be fine about something and then lose it. We quickly had to keep the dogs separate and that was not a workable solution to living with multiple dogs in the same home. In trying to locate some information about his previous housemate to see if that would give us some clues under her adoption notice, I found his had already been posted. While we'd never been given his adoption write up, here it was clearly posted on the adoption page. He was supposed to be an only dog as he didn't like to share attention with other dogs. At that point he had already been added to Katy's yearly vet appointment and I hoped perhaps the Vet could tell me what was causing this change in behavior since the foster indicated he'd been great around other dogs. After reading that notice I cut and pasted it into an email and sent a notice stating we were enforcing the contract and returning the dog within the two week trial period.

The one positive I walk away from this experience with is I believe he is more ready for life in a single animal home. He has been appropriately groomed (don't get me started on that), the Vet discovered he has arthritis in both knees so that can be treated. I hope we have demonstrated he should be an only dog as the original adoption notice indicated. That was one of the most frustrating things to discover. I think he would actually be a great only dog. Someone had taken the time to teach him commands, so that would be a plus for someone who wanted a dog that was trained. For someone who wanted a devoted dog, he's your dog. He just isn't going to be a dog you want in a home with other animals. This is why I haven't used his name or discussed where he came from in this post. My hope is he does find that single dog home where he and his new owners will be happy.

Before anyone mentions it I am aware that rescues are run on an all volunteer basis. It is hard work and believe me I more than appreciate the hard work, love and effort that brought us Katy and Bailey. This mistake is one that I'm hearing about all too often. This was not a matter of not knowing the dog had issues. This was a failure to inform. Had we been told the dog was aggressive, we'd never have brought him home. Talking to other adopters I've heard far too many stories of people not being informed of dogs having previously being returned for issues of aggression, or other serious issues that can impact a successful adoption. Clearly no dog is ever perfect, but knowing as much as you can about a dog you are thinking of adopting helps one make an informed choice and is likely to result in permanent home.

I am not sure where we go forward from here. This failed rescue weighs heavily on all of us. It did some damage not just physically, but emotionally to Bailey and Katy. Bailey and Katy grew apart while he was here because he bullied both of them. Thankfully, after they were sure he was gone, they seem to have resumed their relationship. Bailey however, is weaker than he was before. He has less energy and confidence and that only increases my guilt.

My DH and I also felt hugely guilty about giving up on the rescue, but our Vet really pushed home the damage being done to Bailey and that helped reinforce the choice to return him. I've never felt a moment of concern or doubt about the safety of letting Bailey and Katy roam freely in the house together. Sure they get into doggy mischief, but I never question that they'd hurt each other. I never had a moment of peace with the rescue here. The only time I knew that all dogs were safe was when he was crated, the other two were outside, or he was outside and they were inside. I will not live that way.

As I said, I'm not sure where this leaves us. We are still in the same situation we were before with Katy. Bailey is our miracle dog and according to the Vet is doing well against all odds. However, when the time comes she will not be happy as an only dog and I'm going to have to find a solution that brings another Sheltie or perhaps a Collie into the family. How that happens I don't know. I was always 100% sure it was going to be a rescue situation. Now I don't know where we go from here.


  1. Sorry to hear the rescue dog didn't work out. We think you did the right thing returning him to find his forever home as an only dog where he/she will be happier. Its a shame they weren't honest with you from the beginning. Maybe look for a Sheltie Breeder in your area?

  2. I'm so sorry this happened. Seems as though honesty would prevent many dogs from having to be rehomed repeatedly, which is not good for the dog or potential humans.

    I really wanted to get a rescue when Misty dies, because we had rescued her. However, I knew getting a new dog would be difficult for my sensitive Oreo, and decided a newborn puppy would be the best option for him. I was right too. He was very open to having a puppy in our house, and accepted him in less than 24 hours.

    I think you have to find the right dog for your situation and don't let yourself feel guilty about your choices. If there is any place you should feel stress free it is in your own home.

  3. OH Katie and Bailey and your PEEPS... what a sad thing. It was all wrong for Everyone... and that should NOT have happened to any of you. We agree that Rescues are run by volunteers and not professionals... but those volunteers should have enough training and information to be able to DO NO HARM. Clearly that is not the case with this group.

    This situation was NOT your PEEPs Fault... it was caused by Faulty Information.
    Don't give up.... there is a dog out there that NEEDS you... and you WILL find it.
    We are in your corner.. and do NOT want you to feel guilty in the least over this unfortunate situation.

  4. I know this is easier looking from the outside in, but I don't think you should view this as a fail. You were given faulty information about a dog and that lead to you taking home a completely unsuitable dog which had you known all the facts about before hand you would not have adopted.

    I know it is easier said then done but try not to let this affect you and try not to let it cloud future decisions. Going forwards you will find the right addition, and when that happens your gut will tell you that it is right.

  5. So sorry this happened as it has impacted all of you. The rescue should have been totally up front with you and the fact they lied is scary. They are not doing rescue reputations any good.

    We hope you will all heal from the trauma because that does sound like it was traumatic for all of you.

  6. I agree with you that this seems to be happening more often. We also have encountered rescuers who seem not to want to let go. There were two young Scots in Nati City that I put in for. We had three references one from our vet of 27 years, one from our PetSmart trainer and one from our reader dog program. The rescue group wanted to remain in our lives for two years doing in home visits every two months plus wanting me to sign back to them both dogs plus my dog if something happened to me. Now I have my Last Will and Testament set for any dog I have at the time with money to take care of whatever dogs I have at the time. This group wanted total control. Of course I was turned down the Scots we separated, sad. Funny two weeks later I got an e-mail from the rescue group asking me if I had adopted one of them. I was a transporter for a number of years. Sad this happened to Katy and Bailey and you.
    Thanks for being a friend
    Sweet William The Scot

  7. I'm so sorry it didn't work out - especially sorry to hear the rescue group wasn't honest with you. Sending prayers that Katy and Bailey are OK.

  8. I am also sorry this didn't work out. I feel so bad. I am wondering if part of the problem was the "three" dynamic. I had often thought of getting another pet (be it a cat or a dog) and my Vet strongly advised against it. He said because Cody and Dakota get along so well, bringing in the third would immediately cause the third (no matter what it was) to be an outsider and would greatly upset the dynamic. I am wondering if that is also what happened here. I have heard of rescues not being completely transparent and that is unfortunate. If it were me, I would just enjoy and love your two for as long as you can......(((hugs))) DakotasDen

    1. I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with your vet, based on my vet's recommendations after we found out Bailey was facing health issues. Even after this incident, when DH and I are not sure how to move forward she encouraged us to try saying the right fit is out there for us. An aggressive dog just can't be part of the equation and it shouldn't make us lose faith.

      One thing I can guarentee would have ruined the dynamic with Cody and Dakota is a dog that attacked Cody and pinned Dakota on his back with his teeth to his throat before you could remove him from Dakota. That does a great deal to upset the dynamic. I'm not sure that would have been any different if we'd just had one dog for him to attack. He'd previously only had one animal in the house and they chose not to place him with her for aggressive behavior.

      There are lots of bloggers who have multiple dogs and they seem to make it work without having one dog trying to hurt all the others.

  9. I am sorry this happened to you. How incredibly frustrating.

    Could it be a case of carelessness rather than dishonesty on the part of the rescue? Since the fact that he wasn't dog-friendly WAS disclosed when the adoption notice was finally put up, it seems like that was delayed and in the meantime someone messed up and released the dog to you.

    I know either way it doesn't make it any more frustrating, but perhaps it will make you less reluctant to consider rescue in future knowing it could be a (stupid, dangerous) mistake rather than intentional deceit.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with going to an ethical breeder but clearly rescue is important to you, so it would be wonderful if finding a suitable rescue worked out.

    Good luck!

    1. It was clear when we returned the dog the information was known and ignored. I have no desire to knock the rescue which is why it is not named. I want the dog to find a home, which is why he isn't named.

      I am just frustrated that this situation is not as uncommon as it should be in rescue. Disclosure and honesty is important for successful rescues to happen. Carelessness could have been part of the issue, sure in that they didn't think much about the known issues regarding this dog when placing him with other dogs. However, that is neglect and it leads to bad outcomes.

    2. Yup I agree, the outcome is the same if an unsuitable dog is matched - not good!

      I was hoping it was an honest - but just as unacceptable! - mistake, rather than done intentionally. Either way I can only imagine your frustration.

      I hope the future search for a companion goes smoother.

    3. We are heading to a shelter fund raising event this weekend and one of the reasons this strikes me so hard is one of the complaints I often hear at these events is people return dogs because they expect perfection.

      Perhaps that is true in some cases. I can't speak for those people. I will say as I've talked with more people on this side of rescue that failure to disclose know issues is becoming a bigger issue than unrealistic expectations of a getting the perfect rescue dog. There are some really big issues that should be disclosed to perspective owners because it can result in a return of a dog and in most cases had the rescue been upfront the dog never would have left. Disclosure creates an honest open discussion. Perhaps the adopter is still willing to take on the challenge, but they go forward aware of the challenge. Perhaps they walk away knowing honestly, this isn't a fit for their home. They don't feel betrayed and angry when the truth comes out that was known by the rescue all along.

      I had one thing I couldn't deal with and that was aggression towards my other dogs. I did expect the dog could have other issues, both my other dogs did and we dealt with those issues with training and medical assistance. No dog is perfect and those that are abandoned often come with extra challenges. However, honesty is always the best policy. People don't enjoy surprises in adoptions that are almost always negative.


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