So we’ve got bad news, but we’ll make the best of it. It turns out I spoke too soon.
This morning, we called Crossroads to make sure they had time for us to come look at a couple dogs we were considering for our next foster. They said his adopter had called and was bringing him back. It sounds like she realized she didn’t have the time to handle him. Edwin, his belongings that were sent with him, and the things she’d gotten for him are back here right now.
But you know what? We’re not going to judge her for returning him and will instead concentrate on working with him more. This may be an unpopular opinion in the rescue world, but the mentality of judging an adopter who returns a dog is not something I can get behind.
There are many reasons people realize they can’t keep a dog. Not everyone has the time to exercise a dog properly, the resources to support a dog’s medical or training needs, the patience to train a dog from scratch or work through tougher quirks, or a lack of understanding as to why a dog has suddenly become fearful (remember when we got Rusty?). Sometimes those who move have searched for a pet friendly home, legitimately cannot find one they can afford, and are unable to find someone to take their beloved dog. I’ve known someone who lived in a camper with several dogs to ensure she wouldn’t have to give them up.
Obviously the ideal situation would be that every adopter has all of those things, but that’s not how life works. There have been times in my life where I haven’t had the time and resources to handle a new dog. Even now, we’re not able to try all the newest dog accessories, buy every dog training book or take a dog to a training class when we’d like to do so. We do the best we can, and that mostly involves time, patience, and troubleshooting.
I would say that making it difficult for potential adopters to adopt prevents returns, but another one of my unpopular opinions is that stringent screening, waiting periods, etc. aren’t the perfect answer. I’ve seen the return stories from people whose rescues have a longer adoption process. Crossroads has very few returns and I’ve definitely come across happy former Crossroads dogs around town.
My dad would never have been able to adopt Nellie from our local rescue at home, because my family has cats and do not have a fenced yard. And let me tell you, Nellie and my dad are a perfect match. I couldn’t see her being with any other owner. It would have been difficult for us to adopt Gambit through some rescues since we are renters, and the same is true for Rusty’s owner -and again, both are great matches. Of course, confirming with the landlord that the home is pet friendly for an animal of that size is absolutely reasonable.
I’d rather see animals in capable and loving homes than put to sleep for lack of the absolute most ideal home in the world, and that’s an absolute reality here in the South. That place that northern rescues save urgent dogs from? Yeah, that’s exactly where we live. I understand why rescues want to be very stringent with dogs with strong quirks, but down here, I’d rather see people giving a dog a good home than becoming frustrated with the process and instead getting a dog from Craigslist, the person we once heard say she was going to breed her male pittie with her silver female and “get sooo much money for the silver babies,” or the outdoor flea market. There are plenty of dogs at municipal shelters that find great homes, too.
By the same token, I’d rather have someone realize and admit quickly that they aren’t able to handle a new dog than keep that dog for months or years without sufficient exercise, attention, or training. Sure, there are people looking for an easy way out, but that doesn’t mean everyone is. I’d rather see a dog returned to its rescue and not end up on Craigslist or the holding area of a shelter and possibly not make it to the adoption room and I do question whether people really follow contracts that require a dog to be returned if the owner cannot keep it.
I have always been thankful that Rusty was returned, since there was something clearly not right about his situation – although we believe it was an issue of being treated in a way that such a sensitive dog couldn’t handle. We were able to work with him, and he’s had further progress with his owner. I won’t hold Edwin’s return against his adopter if she feels she truly didn’t have the time to handle them. She’s an animal lover who wanted to be a vet before she realized firsthand how hard the really sad parts of the job were, and if she says she realized she didn’t have the time, I believe her. How terrible of a feeling must it be for a true animal lover to come to that realization?
So, that’s my long and rambling request for everyone to be understanding of this return and refrain from judging her or our adoption process. I love our rescue and they do amazing things for local animals. If anyone is are unable to refrain in their own minds, I won’t judge you or your opinions on adoptions and returns, either .
Now, what does this boil down to for Eddie?
We’ve decided to do our best to start fresh. We started by doing an outdoor, on -leash, reintroduction when we got home. I’m glad we did, because our overly-social Gambit went nuts and became a bit rude when he saw Edwin and I was able to quickly move him out of Eddie’s personal space to keep Gambit from annoying him.
Edwin is already a great dog at home, so we are going to work further on his leash manners and reactivity to make him more adoptable for owners without sufficient time and strength to work on training. He has been making progress and will hopefully continue to do so. I may experiment with control harnesses a bit more so I can walk him as well. I’m quite vertically challenged, and he is too strong for me to handle off a pinch, which he doesn’t mind and behaves well when wearing, but we are avoiding using it as we work on his reactivity. Our tried and failed harnesses have been a head harness and one where the leash attached at the front. We currently have a Holt control harness, which works sufficiently but not well enough for me to handle him when he gets excited. If anyone has recommendations, please share.
We are also going to experiment with different high value treats for outdoor work, starting with the training treat logs cut into larger pieces than we’ve used and hot dogs. Again, recommendations are welcome.
Crossroads is going to try to raise the funds to send him to a training class with a trainer who the veterinarian goes to herself. While the trainer is about an hour away, the price is much more reasonable than I expected, so hopefully the funds can be raised in full or at least to the point where we can make up the difference ourselves. I’ve hesitated to ask for help with training funds when there is always need for things like surgery expenses, heartworm treatment, etc. They already provide us with a crate and food if we need it.
If you are interested in donating to Edwin’s training, please contact Crossroads and tell them you’d like to make a donation to CARE (Crossroads Animal Rescue) for Edwin’s training. They have not yet posted about it, so let them know you learned about this need from his foster parents.