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All Rescues are not abused - and some come from GREAT homes


Angie H
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I cant agree more. we rehomed our PyrShep last year, and the person we rehomed him too rehomed him to someone else(I am not clear on why, I get a differnt story from everyone I ask) and because of Blairs issues, which he was born with,there is a reason his breeder GAVE him to us, and was unwilling to actually sell him. we worked through a lot of them, he trained and competed in Agility(took home 4 first place ribbons and 2 Q's in his first trial) and Musical Freestyle(he Q'ed in his first world comp) and he trained but never competed in Flyball, he came on vacations with us, went hiking with us, wents on runs and walks, ate a raw diet, was kept well groomed, was neutered etc.. we rehomed him because we were unable to deal with all his issues, not when we were trying to take care of 6 other dogs and all our other pets. we felt he would be better off with someone who had more time to devote to helping him over the rest of his problems. he was never in any danger of loosing his home, if we hadnt found one, we were planning to locate a Behaviourist. poor thing arrived at his new distation aboslutly terrified, neither of his mommys are there and there is a bunch of strangers about, he would not eat, drink or leave his crate. within days, from what I understand something happened to one of the dogs of his new owner(this is the only part that is consistant in the stories I have heard) and she sent Blair to someone else, this person is abosultly postive that the extremes of his behaviour comming off the plane is clear indication that he was abused and neglected, and oh my he is doing sooo much better now that he has been rescued from this awful situation, and oh my goodness she made so much progress that he can now preform in public!(he has been a demo dog for years...)

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I read years ago that "this animal was abused" is a way to manipulate people into taking in that animal, people like to feel they've 'saved' a poor little one. My mother in law told the story every day of how she saved her cat from abuse, but it was only that the first owner had three small boys and no time for the long-haired, sort of shy cat.

 

Our first true rescue was Maggie, she was probably 7 or 8 when we got her and I knew people who were friends of her first owner. I was told stories of how the woman was coarse and rough with her dogs (and herself too) and I could tell from the way Maggie reacted when I tried to teach her something new, she'd disappear inside herself and do nothing. She was afraid to even try as if she was better off doing nothing than the wrong thing. She'd given up on the chance of being right. I thought she'd been treated fairly roughly in her past life but not necessarily from the scars and broken teeth and sunken spot in her skull (dogs can be pretty rough on themselves) but from her attitude.

 

Nicky is three and he's fearful of almost everyone except my husband and me. I think his problem is that he's a truly gentle, naturally shy soul who ended up on the street at 6 or 7 months, was picked up by animal control and the experience of being in a kennel, then neutered, becoming gravely ill and given rough treatment by a vet made him believe that his best chance was in chasing the ones he's afraid off before they hurt him. We've made progress but he'll never be as confident as the others are. I don't think he was ever actually abused, he just doesn't have the confidence he needed for his experiences and they happened at that 7 month fear stage.

 

Suzanne

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Zeb had a very bad first year. He went through different stages of being spooked at all sorts of noises, then people, etc. He was so terrified and wild for his first bath that it was like nothing I've ever dealt with (and I've bathed a lot of dogs over the years). The only thing I could compare it to would be the tiger cubs we had at the shelter - he had that same feral edge to him. He wasn't abused, neglected or even a rescue. He's well bred and I got him at 12 weeks. I'm positive that he was well cared for and well loved during his first 12 weeks. Its just how he is. Even though I socialized him well, he had trouble dealing with new experiences. I kept trying until I found what worked for him and he is so much better today and improving all the time.

Upon meeting him, many people have asked if he was a rescue. I tell them no and if the're receptive and I think they might approach him right, I may explain more and ask if they have a few moments to toss a toy to him or give him a cookie. Some people just don't get it and react too much to him, and those are the ones I don't take much time with and won't let near him. Some people are too reactive themselves and just not good around dogs.

 

Speedway was a rescue and I'm 100% certain he wasn't abused. The first month he came to live with me was all the time it took for me to see exactly why he made it to the shelter the first time and was returned by the people who adopted him from that shelter. I was going to say that he was untrained, but that's not exactly true. He clearly had not been taught any basic obedience. He had been trained to do all sorts of annoying behaviors. (stealing food, grabbing something and running away to try to get you to chase him, bicycle/jogger chasing, trash digging, etc). He was an escape artist and from his behavior, I would guess that his original people just didn't know how to deal with him and did all the wrong things, like chase him around to try to catch him when he got out of the house/yard. That was so reinforced that I could never train past it. If you called him, even in the house, half the time, he would go into a play bow and start darting around. Being chased was that fun to him and I have no doubt that it was well reinforced in his first year of life.

He had crate anxiety and separation anxiety. For years, I assumed it was because he had been rehomed a couple of times and had been in a foster home or two. I was wrong. There are a lot of dogs that have been rehomed as many times if not more and are fine. I now believe that dogs with this sort of anxiety are just born that way (wired wrong). He would have had this problem even if I had gotten him as a puppy and been his only home.

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Ugh, yes. My dad and sister are totally convinced that our current foster, Aidan, was abused. I really don't think so. His owners weren't good dog owners, but they weren't physically abusive, just ignorant (and not caring to learn). But because he is very shy and aloof, especially around men, they are constantly mentioning how the poor boy MUST have been abused. Is it possible? Certainly. Probable? Yeah, not so much.

 

I also have people say that about my personal dog, Diocese. He is fear-reactive to strangers. Occasionally we will meet someone who is convinced that he must be some poor abused rescue. No, I've had him since he was 7 weeks old, and he is from a well-known herding breeder. I admit, there have been times when I just let them say that, because it is so hard to get people to just back off. It is shocking how many people, even dog people, have no clue what they communicate to dogs.

 

Basically, dogs who have been physically abused in the way most people imagine when they see a hand-shy dog, aren't hand-shy. Dogs learn quickly to flinch away from an occasional strike or swat.

 

But, people who really hammer on dogs tend to just get madder if the dog flinches away, or in fact no matter what the dog does. Instead, these dogs learn to stay very, very still and never react. Psychologists call it learned helplessness.

 

Thank you. That was an insightful post.

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Welcome, Caerus!

 

It is shocking how many people, even dog people, have no clue what they communicate to dogs.

 

Well said, and something that someone like myself has to remind myself over and over again, because I am one of those "dense" dog people who runs on years of bad/ignorant habits and has to struggle to think and do things right. Thank goodness there are resources like good trainers, and videos and books (like "The Other End of the Leash" and similar materials by Patricia McConnell and other excellent, insightful trainers).

 

And, on the topic that OP posted, our Megan came from a caring but unsuitable home. I prefer to call her "adopted" because she wasn't really rescued (as I think of it). Her owner realized he was not providing her with a suitable situation and it was not good for her, and sought a new home for her sake. We were fortunate enough that his friend knew we loved and had had Border Collies, and so she contacted us.

 

My first reaction was, "We already have two dogs and that's enough." However, as I was going out of town for the weekend, my older daughter and my husband conspired to meet "Morgan" down in town. A last minute glitch in my plans cancelled my trip and the conspirators had to come clean about their plans to meet with this little stranger and her concerned owner. So, I went with them, planning to put a wet blanket on their plot to adopt, and wound up bringing her home, and then heading to town for a crate, collar, lead, and dish (as I knew that she would never leave once she'd crossed the threshold).

 

While in town, it struck me that I'd rather wished she was called Megan instead of Morgan. It must have been fate as I got home to find that my husband and other daughter (still living with us at the time) had come to the same conclusion. It is a very good person who recognizes that they are not giving a dog the life that is best for it, and is generous and caring enough to find it a better home.

 

By the way, Megan's littermate sister (owned by the above-mentioned friend) was adopted out just a few months later. Obviously both had been purchased by folks who had not really thought it (getting a Border Collie) through but who cared enough to do right by them when they realized their mistake.

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I have to agree with you. For the most part, a scared/timid/shy dog is not necessarily a victim of abuse. Wasi, our rescued BC, is terribly reactive to a raised voice - but I guarantee you that dog has no "reason" for it other than it's just her. Though I will say that we rescued her - living in the bush in the middle of northern Ontario winter, yep, she wouldn't have lasted too long without a warm place to sleep.

 

The first dog I adopted on my own has tons of issues. She's bitten me so many times that I lost count. I've had her assessed by many behaviorists and they all come back with the "she was abused" theme. And I do think she was smacked around by her original owners, because she's perfectly fine with people until a hand comes at her. Then she strikes. But I also think she wasn't properly socialized, and that she's the product of bad breeding (eskies are a favorite for pet store/puppy mills). Her time living as a stray in a big city probably didn't help. But I don't really care - I love her no matter what the reason of her insanity is. I can manage her just fine (I can read her body language and pre-empt most situations, plus she's only 23lbs, so pretty easy to handle), so it doesn't bother me anymore. I used to be dreadfully embarrassed and scared when she would "react". But not anymore - she's an amazing dog 99% of the time, so I can forgive her for her 1% failure rate. I don't know if there's a better feeling than that first moment you realize that a dog like this trusts you completely. It's worth all the scars in the world for me!

 

My second adopted dog is Buddy, and he's amazing. He was around 5 yo when I got him and there isn't one thing wrong with him. I have no idea why he was in "rescue", but I'm glad he was so that I could enjoy him. He didn't know anything - didn't sit, no recall - but once I got working with him, he was perfect.

 

So of my 3 rescues, only one has issues. But she's also a breed that is super-sensitive to any kind of harsh treatment, so even just a smack on the nose or a little squeeze combined with poor breeding could lead to aggression. So I wouldn't be surprised if she was, or wasn't abused - she just is who she is!

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This was something DH explained to me when my family thought our shelter husky had possibly been beaten with a hose - he was terrified of hoses. Now I understand he just hated water and was perceptive enough to know that's where it comes from. :D As Sandra said, we weren't trying to make ourselves feel great, we just weren't educated enough to know better, and obviously jumped to the wrong conclusion based on the evidence.

 

The way Odin acts around the brush lately, you'd think I beat him with it. :rolleyes: A month ago grooming was his favorite thing, and now he won't even approach the food dish if I put the brush next to it. What happened in between? Nothing. Well, maybe CGC prep - Murphy's law would seem to say that the one step on the test I thought would be easiest for us is actually going to be the hardest. Silly pup. DH and I put words in his mouth, "I'm too OLD for groomin', mom. It's for baby dogs!"

 

The only dog I've ever known that definitely WAS abused shut down around the abuser but to the rest of the world became extremely aggressive, to the point of lunging and attacking chrome car bumpers on walks, trying to attack other people, children, etc. It was my high school BF's dog and his stepfather beat him, and my BF too. They both ended up neurotic, reactive, and aggressive. Add serious risk-seeking behavior in the human as well. I forgave it in both but it was much easier to forgive in the dog, who really didn't understand what was going on. He bit several people, including my father and my BF's terminally ill mother's day nurse, and eventually had to be put to sleep. :D

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However, she had a few other behaviours when we got her that made me wonder if she'd been mistreated...she was terrified of teenaged boys playing street hockey or even holding the sticks - very specific to the age and gender.

 

Tweed is terrified of soccer balls. He has generously expanded that fear to include places where soccer is played (soccer fields) and the people in our neighborhood who typically play soccer (teenage boys). He has not had a bad experience with any of those things, and I have had him since he was 6 weeks old. He has somewhat overcome this fear because a soccer ball is Mr. Woo's most treasured toy, but every Spring when we bust out the "Fifa" he has to relearn how not to fear it all over again.

 

Certainly it's true that really abused dogs will adopt a state of learned helplessness, but some of them adopt an incredibly defensive/offensive pattern of behaviour as well. We have had one rescue that I know was beaten with a broom handle. He was given to a very elderly and not very mobile couple in their 80's as a puppy by an allegedly well-meaning but certainly very stupid son-in-law. They were in no physical position to correct, train or walk a very high energy dog and so what they did was punish him physically instead of train him. And not having the physical strength to beat him with their hands, they used a broom possibly to defend themselves from a dog that they had effectively turned into a monster. The dog, when we got him, was a most terrifying animal ... if you said "no" to him sternly, he would drop to a crouch, bare his teeth, piss himself and/or release his anal glands and then attack you with a serious intent to harm. If you raised a broom or similar implement to him, he would do the same. He was also a severe resource guarder, and did not allow you to handle his feet or brush him. He was a dog destined for a vial of Euthanol, had he not been adopted by one of our volunteers. He was not a dog we could have made available to the general public by any means.

 

This is the only dog with a very severe case of aggression (we have had milder cases) that I have encountered in rescue and the only dog I can verify was beaten and physically abused. The things people are capable of is astonishing and terrifying, but it really is limited to a select number of people and the vast majority of our rescue dogs have just been under-cared for, or well loved by people who could not keep them.

 

I was at the pet supply store yesterday buying cat litter and there was a woman in the store with what she called a chocolate lab X Chihuahua (I saw a little mixed breed brown dog, but whatever). For reasons that are mysterious to me, she had the thing off leash in the store and in the 5 minutes I was there it snapped at and bit two people who attempted to touch it. The woman's response was "Oh gosh, sorry about that, he's a rescue." And the people who were snapped at / bitten replied "Oh the poor thing." I was so annoyed I had to pay for my cat litter and leave whilst biting my tongue very hard. To excuse away a grumpy little shit's behaviour with the 'rescue' defense was bad enough, but dear God why did she not have that dog on a leash and make efforts to keep him away from people whom he would bite?

 

My friend Finn (lots of you have read her blog) has spent months in Nicaragua dealing with stray and feral dogs, many of whom go through life being regularly abused by people who have no patience for strays/ferals. They are kicked, hit, have things thrown at them, are chased off regularly. They are mangy, injured, wormy and sick. And yet they are taken in off the streets, vetted and homed into caring environments and they certainly do not suffer the many personality maladies that Western society likes to excuse away with "he was a rescue."

 

RDM

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The things people are capable of is astonishing and terrifying, but it really is limited to a select number of people and the vast majority of our rescue dogs have just been under-cared for, or well loved by people who could not keep them.

Yup - Just so.

 

For reasons that are mysterious to me, she had the thing off leash in the store and in the 5 minutes I was there it snapped at and bit two people who attempted to touch it. The woman's response was "Oh gosh, sorry about that, he's a rescue." And the people who were snapped at / bitten replied "Oh the poor thing." I was so annoyed I had to pay for my cat litter and leave whilst biting my tongue very hard. To excuse away a grumpy little shit's behaviour with the 'rescue' defense was bad enough, but dear God why did she not have that dog on a leash and make efforts to keep him away from people whom he would bite?

:rolleyes:

OK, I just finished agreeing with you that "the things people are capable of is astonishing and terrifying," but this seems to me to be an unusually severe case of 'ostrich syndrome.' HELLO?! Could it be any more obvious that this dog needs work, and is not ready for 'prime time?'

Sheesh.

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Imagine if you get in an elevator with a scary looking guy and then the elevator gets stuck between floors. Then you notice the gun sticking out of his pocket. Do you do anything to draw attention to yourself? Heck no! You stay as still as possible and avoid meeting his eyes - and pray hard for the elevator to resume motion or someone to come bail you out.

 

The really abused dog has had its soul torn right out. You can see it (or rather not see it) in the eyes. He has no hope that the elevator will keep moving, and in fact it takes a long time to convince him that he's no longer ON the elevator.

 

Excellent use of imagery. There can be no better way describe abuse.

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I just wanted to add that I fully agree with this, I adopted a border collie in march from a great home, his male human had passed away and his wife knew that she could not could cope with a bouncing border. In reality when her husband was alive they both knew he did not fit into their home but husband and dog adored each other and he was not going anywhere.

Their daughter has visited with us, we have shared pictures and stories. Like all borders he has quirks but as we all know that comes with the breed! It is great knowing all about him rather than having to guess.

My previous border came from a local shelter and also had not been abused, spoilt brat yes but no hang ups just a great dog.

And then we have Jester a german shepherd beagle mix, who to this day I don't think was deliberately abused but was "over" disciplined in that old fashioned way with magazines etc, she was and still is a very happy dog, just did not like you to lift your hand, newspaper, magazine, curtian rod etc etc in the air. 13 years later I don't even think she remembers her puppy life.

I should add I have never had a puppy and have had brilliant luck adopting adult dogs

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However, I believe the "toenail" issue is going to be a REAL issue! :rolleyes:

 

That is one I can relate to!! I have had Bert since'01 He was really FAT and had scary long toenails. Of course I attempted to trim them llike I handled the rest of my dogs and he freaked...

To avoid stress we took him to the vet. It took five attendants and the tech to do the deed. They said the next time it would cost me $150. No kidding.

We started taking him on long walks and the weight and the toenails improved.

Now we live in the country and there are no sidewalks for walking/wearing down nails. I've had to start trimming again.

I hold Bert on his butt, like I handle a sheep for hoof trimming. No struggle, no stress.

I had several issues with border collies and stainless steel vet tables. If they would just treat them at ground level things would be easier on the dog.

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I had several issues with border collies and stainless steel vet tables. If they would just treat them at ground level things would be easier on the dog.
Interesting... My vet treats Suka on the floor. She may be even better than I thought.
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  • 1 month later...

My Sophia came from a shelter. She was an owner surrender and had only been there a few days. She was pretty stressed out from her shelter experience. And once she came out of her shell she had some issues...the thunderstorm phobia, the mixed emotions about other dogs.

 

But, a "problem dog?" Whoever had this dog before had spent some time working with her. Sophia was housebroken, knew not to bother anything that wasn't specifically hers, and knew basic commands. How many people can get a dog and return to work a few days later and within a week give the dog the run of the house while they're gone all day? In addition, she was incredibly people friendly. Without any intervention on my part, she even knew how to sit down in the presence of toddlers so she wouldn't inadventantly knock them down. Problem dog? It sounds to me like the magic dog everyone is looking for!

 

There are a lot of reasons why people surrender dogs. Sometimes the owner dies or goes into a nursing home and no one else in the family is in a position to take the dog. Sometimes people face a personal crisis and can't rehome the dog in short order plus cope with all the other sudden life changes simultaneously. Sometimes the dog is simply a mismatch for its owner and could do splendidly in a different sort of home. And sometimes there are the really stupid excuses like "I didn't know St Bernards got that big" or "I can't keep this collie. I simply can't deal with dog hair all over my clothes and furniture." Sounds like the owner had the problem, not the dog....

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I've fostered a lot of dogs and the majority (99%) of dogs I've fostered were just left alone. Not abused as in hitting/kicking/yelling just thrown out in the backyard and occasioanlly fed (the typical chained up/starved Rottweiler is generally what I rescue :rolleyes:) They're great dogs. However, Colton, due to his behavior (unlike any resuce I've had) I have reason to suspect was hit/yelled at. If I raise my arm he cowers and wees all over. When I play with him I can't raise my voice or raise the toy above his head.

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I think getting a puppy and giving it no training and no form of affection is abuse. It takes a long time to crate train, people train and I can't understand why someone would get a pup, put it in the back yard and not interact with it. Why get the dog in the first place? Why chain it up or leave it in a kennel in it's own filth? That is also abuse to me. A year later, after crummy dog food and an unruly dog, they look for a rescue. We do all we can, but clearly we are working from scratch. So sad.

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Interesting discussion about the behavior exhibited by physically abused dogs. The battered women I see in my practice are very similar - exhibit "learned helplessness" (that strange kind of semi-frozen state) and in some cases really out-there type violence in response to low-level stimuli. Understandably, since they can only control when they get hit, not if. Our two species really are a great deal alike.

 

ETA: I don't know if I have ever encountered a physically abused dog. I picked up a Great Dane bitch once from a guy holding a shotgun on her - she'd just killed the wife's Pekingese - and for the first few weeks she acted really lethargic and unresponsive, so I suspected abuse. She turned out to be a great dog and used to go to work with me everyday. :D OTOH, my fear-biting mammal-murdering head case I knew since he was eight weeks old, and he'd never had a hand laid on him in anger - well, mostly because his former owner couldn't catch the little creep :rolleyes: His whole litter acted like that - I used to see their owners at shows over the years - so I guess something was just loose in the wiring.

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No, they're not all abused. Samantha and Buzz were basically fine from the point that they came home. I knew Sam's breeder and it was obvious that Buzz was a well cared for dog.

 

Shoshone had that frozen thing going on, though. From what I gathered, she and her brother Kip were neglected to the point that the previous owner could have been arrested. No food, extremely emaciated - a good weight for her is 33 lbs, and she weighed about 25 when she was spayed. Filthy conditions, etc.

 

She did freeze when either Terry or I made a move for the first month or so. Spent as much time in her crate as she could, even though we left the door open all the time. And on and on.

 

I've come to believe that Shoshone just has a quirky personality, though, and that even with a good background, she'd still be Her Royal Whackiness, just a little less grim about it all.

 

Ruth

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