Some things seem to be universal—like discovering a need for the thing that you just threw away. Or looking for your cell phone when you are actually talking on it. (This, of course, is just theoretical.) Included in that list is a feeling of panic after bringing home a new dog.
Here’s what blog reader Martha recently wrote, in response to a post I wrote about a year ago, Rescue Regrets are Temporary.
Thank you very much for this kind post that addresses what we humans are experiencing during this transition. We are on day five, and I am in a cloud of free-form anxiety and dread. I so appreciate your post, and everyone’s responses. It DOES feel good to know I am not alone. I’m thankful that my husband has far more patience and faith than I do. I need to work on steps 3, 5 and 6. Thank you for giving me some direction. I am truly grateful to you.
I’m glad it helps Martha and others to know that we are not alone when we get nervous after bringing home a dog. Usually somewhere around day 3-5, right? It’s especially important to know that it seems to happen to almost everyone, no matter how well versed in dog behavior and training. (People who foster a lot might be an exception? Are you one of them? Tell me about it… when did you learn to relax?)
The universal nature of what Martha so evocatively described as “a cloud of free-form anxiety and dread” is one of the reasons that Dr. Karen London and I wrote Love Has No Age Limit: Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home. The other reason was that although there are scores of books on bringing home a puppy, there was not much on the market for people bringing home older dogs, whether adolescents or mature adults.
The book has been out for just about seven years now, and words can’t express how gratified we are that people have found it helpful. We’ve actually sold well over 100,000 print copies, many of them purchased in large quantities by shelters, or by people graciously donating them to shelters and rescue groups. We had the most fun gathering photographs for the book, all rescued dogs adopted as adolescents or adults. That’s Theo on the cover, still one of my favorite dog photographs ever.
My marketing gurus have put the book on a BOGO SALE for the rest of June, so if you buy one, you get one free. If you want to order in bulk, go to THIS PAGE and join the people who take advantage of the fact that we’ve priced the booklet at cost in order to get it out to as many adopters as we can.
By the way, last year’s post on the first six steps to counter “rescue regrets” are summarized here:
1. You’re not alone: It helps, doesn’t it, to know that this response is common, not to mention that it goes away?
2. Don’t do this alone: Have your village on speed dial, seriously.
3. Write down what’s happening. It’s amazing how much less daunting problems are if they are written down. Pretend it’s for your friend’s dog. Be very specific (“He has started urinating in the living room by the door to the garage early in the morning” versus “They said he was house trained and he’s not!”).
4. Remember the Rule of Three’s: There is no “Rule of Three’s”. I made that up. But there should be, shouldn’t there? Three days, three weeks and three months truly does seem to be a significant amount of time.
5. Use all resources you can find: Whatever is happening has happened to someone else. Call your friends (if they are dog savvy). Go online. Read books. Watch videos. Make a list of things to do, and then cross out anything that either doesn’t feel right or involves punishing your dog for being a dog.
6. Call forth Patience and Faith, your new BFFs: Whatever would we do without them? They are easily underestimated, but they are just as important as knowledge, stamina and commitment. Welcome them in and pour them some tea. Ask them to stay awhile.
Martha especially appreciated #s 3, 5 and 6. I too counted on #5 & #6 when Maggie and Tootsie came into our home. (It seems, however, that Patience and Faith are somewhat fickle in their friendship. I find they are not always there when I need them. I am working on a more efficient recall…).
What about you? Did you need any of the steps above? Have some to add yourself? Never worried for a second about what you did—no second thoughts, no worries, no regrets? (Can I come live with you?)
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Brutally hot? Then chilly? Deluged with rain, then arid, now sopping wet? The inconsistency of our weather has become consistent. My head has not wrapped around that yet, but I’m working on it. Three and a half inches of rain Saturday night. Basement flooded, but then, I don’t have to water anything for a few days.
Right now my free time is mostly taken up with dogs, sheep, sheep herding and gardening. Poor Maggie got attacked by one of my ewes last week, so my job right now is to build her confidence back up. We’ll be at a trial soon, and one of the sheep she might be dealing with is here below. At some point sweet Maggie–who loves working “defense” but not “on offense” so much, is going to have to learn that she has weapons in her mouth, and that’s it is okay to use them. (By the way, having horns doesn’t necessarily make sheep more aggressive–we worked this ewe last week and she was quite polite. I think she has a lovely head.)
On the gardening front, here is one of my favorite native plants, the Jack in the Pulpit. Who could not love a plant that begins as a male and becomes female as it gets larger and more robust? (Jill in the Pulpit?) By the way, there are some fish that do the same thing. There is so much I want to say about this as a feminist, but I’ll leave it to you fill in the blanks. (All comments welcome.)