My mother was a professional dog groomer. I grew up with a family dog in the house.
When I was a teenager, I worked part-time in a veterinary clinic.
So it was a no-brainer to me to get a family dog for my kids. I had been wanting to do it for years and the time was finally right.
Eh. Kind of.
I always planned to adopt a rescue and I’m glad I went through with that.
But there are some things I would like to have known in advance before I did.
Here are three things I wish I had known before adopting a rescue dog. If you’re considering getting a rescue, this might save you from some of the same mistakes.
3 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Adopting a Rescue Dog
1. Shelter owners are not required to do any due diligence before offering animals for adoption.
The owner I contacted had listed the dog as a four-month-old dachshund mix. His picture was adorable.
When I drove out to meet him, he was adorable. So sweet and quiet I almost couldn’t believe he was alive.
He came right up to me, let me pick up, and then just laid in my arms like a baby.
It was a total set up.
When I took him to the vet a few days later, I discovered that he was sick with an upper respiratory infection. Which explained his quiet disposition and docile behavior.
As he started to recover, he became a bit less quiet and a bit less docile. Actually, more than a bit.
The woman who ran the animal shelter had at least 20 animals in her care and I have no doubt that she could tell he was ill. But they have no legal obligation to disclose that to you.
So, if you meet a shelter animal and you can’t believe how sweet and quiet it is, it might be sick.
Just so you know.
2. Read the adoption agreement carefully.
I was completely enamored with my new puppy. So when the shelter owner was reviewing the adoption agreement, I barely paid attention.
She held up the paper and said “This is just the agreement showing the amount of the adoption fee and stating that, if you decide you can’t keep the dog, you have to bring him back to me.”
I nodded blindly, rocking my new furry friend in my arms.
Later, after the vet told me some things that the shelter owner did not, I went back and read the agreement I’d signed.
The adoption fee was on there, plus the promise to return him to the shelter if I decided to rehome him for any reason.
But the agreement also included a few items I’d missed. Specifically – the shelter was not liable if the breed, age, and health of the animal turned out to be different than they’d told me.
So – when all three of these turned out to be incorrect, the shelter was not responsible.
3. Prepare for the unexpected – right away.
Now I had a dog who was most definitely not a dachshund mix and who was most definitely not going to remain small. I also had a dog who was significantly younger than I was told.
Which meant that I’d be housebreaking and teaching him not to bite, all of which I fully expected to be completed, because I was supposed to be adopting an older puppy.
I spent weeks getting up multiple times a night to take him outside and basically keeping him away from my kids so they wouldn’t get bitten while he was teething.
I’ve also had to take him to the vet to get some of the vaccines I was told he’d already had. (I was even given paperwork that said so.) Turned out he was too young to get them, so that was probably not accurate either.
It’s been…an experience.
Now I don’t mean to imply that I regret getting my dog. I don’t.
Even though he’s not quite what I was expecting, he’s still a sweet pup and he’s part of our family. And now that he’s been with us for a month, he’s settled in and is doing much better.
He sleeps through the night, he listens and responds when I say “no”, and his teething has improved.
But if I ever decide to do this again, I won’t make the same mistakes. Hopefully you won’t either!