I came across this photo recently on Instagram from a rescue group I follow and it really struck a cord with me.
My dog Roscoe is one of these dogs. Sadly, had I not been lucky enough to foster him, I probably would’ve never considered adopting a dog like him. When I first took Roscoe in, he was extremely shy, fearful of being touched and cowered in the corner for the first few days. It took a long time for him to build up enough trust to let me pet him or put a leash on him. He still has issues to this day and will never be the type of dog that runs to greet me at the door (well, he does, but he also runs away as soon as I get too close) but I’ve learned that none of that really matters. Seeing the capacity a dog has to love, even after being through a traumatic event, is a remarkable thing that bonds you together like no other experience. Roscoe is such a special soul, I can’t imagine not having him in my life.
As I learned with Roscoe, you don’t really know what a dog is like until they receive the love they deserve. Most dogs in shelters, or when they first get into foster homes, are shut down and stressed out. How they are acting is just a reflection of their environment, not who they truly are. Of course, you should know what you can handle in your own life before taking on a challenging dog, but if you have the time and love in your heart to take on a dog that needs a little extra patience, it will be worth it. For me, I think it helped that I had one dog already that was very much the opposite of Roscoe, so when Roscoe would run away from me or show his teeth when I tried to pet him, I could walk away and give attention to my other dog.
This is also why fostering is so crucial. Like I said, most dogs do not put forth their best selves when they are stuck in a shelter environment. Getting a dog out of that environment and into a home where they can receive love is key to unlocking their true personality. I was so glad to see that the Cleveland Kennel began a fostering program earlier this year. If you’ve ever considered fostering, my advice to you is to do it! You learn so much and play such an important role in saving the lives of so many dogs. And, maybe, you’ll be lucky enough to meet a dog like Roscoe and fall in love.
If you want to read more about my adoption story with Roscoe, check out Lucky Puppy Magazine: http://www.luckypuppymag.com/lucky-puppy-of-the-week-roscoe-the-long-haired-chihuahua/ Roscoe was the Lucky Puppy of the Week!
Do you have a story about a “challenging” dog you adopted? I want to hear it! I’d love to start sharing local adoption stories, so drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment below.