Saturday, April 2, 2016

A-Z of #Dog Rescue: Botched! — #atozchallenge

You know how they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions? Well, the person who said it first was a dog rescuer. 

Okay, I don’t actually know that. But it must’ve been. And I’m also pretty sure it was a dog rescuer who came up with carpe diem—although, honestly, in rescue it’s more about the moment than the day.

Good intentions are what bring you to the threshold of dog rescuing. But, once you cross over (into the dark side, mwahahahaha...), they'll be about as useful as—I don't know. A title of royalty.

The bad news is it's incredibly easy to botch a dog rescue. Nine times out of ten, though, it's your fault. And that's the good news. It means it's up to you not to botch it.


 BOTCHED #1: THE DOG RAN AWAY 

What you did

  • You moved too fast. (Good luck getting close to him/her again.)

Do It Right

The goal is to get the dog to come to you—or, at the very least, to give you permission to come to them. If the dog backs away, stop. Don’t invade their personal space until they’re ready to allow you to.

Or maybe

  • You were nervous. Or tense. Or just excited. Animals can smell your adrenaline a mile away—and, to them, it smells of aggression.

Do It Right

Stay calm. Breathe. Get in touch with your zen. Don’t approach until you're in your happy place.

 BOTCHED #2: THE DOG GROWLED OR SNAPPED AT YOU 

What you did

  • You invaded his/her space.

Do It Right

See Botched #1

Or maybe

  • You looked him/her right in the eye.

Do It Right

For dogs, unlike humans, eye contact is confrontational. Aggressive. Avoid it like the plague. Keep it brief, and make a point of looking away while they’re watching you. That’s a “negotiation” signal, a way of saying, “I’m harmless.”

Or maybe

  • You tried to touch him/her too fast.

Do It Right

If you’re within a meter or two, offer your hand to be sniffed. Keep it below their nose level. Stretch out (slowly) your arm, palm up and fingers curled into a loose fist (best way to avoid losing a fingertip).



 BOTCHED #3: THE DOG BIT YOU. OUT OF NOWHERE. 

(It wasn’t out of nowhere. I hate to pop your bubble, honey, but you did it to yourself.)

What you did

  • You tried to touch him/her too fast.

Do It Right

See Botched #2

Or maybe

  • You tried to pet the top of his/her head.

Do It Right

Your first touch should never—I repeat: never—be on the top of a dog’s head. In dogspeak, especially for dogs with reason to distrust humans, a hand above their heads feels threatening. Safe and friend-making areas to touch are the side of the neck, the underside of the chin, the chest, or the side of their bodies. As you gain acceptance, move to the area around the ears; they love that.


 BOTCHED #4: THE DOG, UNTIL THEN DOCILE AND FRIENDLY, TURNED PSYCHO KILLER WHEN HE SAW THE LEASH 


What you did

  • You presented the leash too fast.

Do It Right

Don’t move on to the leash until the dog seems comfortable with you touching him/her. Present it for sniffing (like your hand, everything you present to the dog should be below nose level). Don’t rush. Take your time—and let the dog take his/her time, too. If the dog seems okay with the leash (doesn’t back away), keep going. Slip it around the neck as you continue petting them. Once the leash is in place, and while you’re still petting them, begin to stand. Slowly. Read the dog. Make sure they’re comfortable with everything you’re doing.

 BOTCHED #5: YOU GOT THE MAMA DOG, YOU CAME BACK FOR THE PUPPIES—BUT THEY’RE GONE! 


Well. Good luck finding them without the mom. If they’re under 8 weeks, their instinct will tell them to hide. You won’t get a peep from them. If they’re older, they’ll probably wander off when they get hungry. Best-case scenario, they’ll be picked up by some kid who thinks they’re “cute”. More likely, though, and because there’s no mom around to show them the ropes, they’ll wander into traffic or fall into a drainage pipe or—. Ok. You get the picture. Bad rescuer. Bad, bad.

Do It Right

Don’t get the mama dog until you’ve located the puppies. If you see a lactating female and no puppies in sight, you’ll need to follow / observe until you can pinpoint where she’s got them. And she'll be protective of them, so be careful. The good news is that once you have the puppies, especially if they’re under 8 weeks, chances are Mama won’t bolt, which will make it easier to get her, too.


 BOTCHED #6: YOU INTERFERED WITH AN ONGOING RESCUE ATTEMPT 


Remember what we said about good intentions? A well-meaning but clueless amateur can undo a rescue organization’s work of months in… yeah, pretty quick. 

Do It Right

Watch for signs this dog is being taken care of (see yesterday’s Assessment post), and if s/he looks like s/he hangs out at a regular place, you can ask locals if they know whether someone’s looking after that dog. The easiest (and surest) way, though, is to be in regular contact with your local rescue or shelter. Nowadays, with social media, it’s so easy to snap a pic and post it to Facebook or Twitter and get an instant response.

~ * ~

Sometimes, though, all of the above is a luxury you won’t be able to afford. If a dog is in an immediate life-threatening situation, you won’t have time to wait, to choose your moment, to make friends, to call anyone, even to snap a picture. Saving the dog’s life trumps everything.

But what if it’s a rabid hundred-pound Mastiff trained as an attack dog and scared out of its mind because it just got hit by a car? (And, because Murphy’s Law really is a law, you just know it’ll be a dog like this that needs the most urgent help.)

Come back tomorrow on Monday—we A2Zers get Sundays off for good behavior—for Catch Me (If You Can), a crash course on impossible rescues.

67 comments :

  1. Very good points especially for rescuing the babies. Mentally, dogs are in bad shape when they are abandoned. I adopted a wandering yellow lab who according to people I ran into had been wandering my road for several months. It was years before she stopped moaning her thanks constantly to me. I feel she had been dumped by a breeder after she had been used up. Beautiful personality but so neurotic, she was a wonderful friend of another dog I had that was a little off. She had been abused and somewhat feral when my dad rescued her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ann, what a beautiful story about your rescued Lab! I'm so glad she found you. Great point about the mental state of abandoned dogs; some people might think the dog doesn't know s/he's been abandoned, but I'm convinced they understand -- if not the actual mechanics, at the very least the betrayal.

      So very happy to meet a fellow rescuer! Thank you for coming by :)

      Delete
  2. Great advice. Sometimes puppies who are taken too early from their mothers act the same way. Patience is key. (My Rottweilers are now the sweetest things.)
    Good luck with the rest of the challenge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too right, Ronel—and what a pleasure to connect with a fellow rescuer :) Thanks for coming by!

      Delete
  3. This should have maximum possible circulation, Guilie. I aim to do what I can.
    Keith Channing A-Zing from http://keithkreates.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so very much, Keith! I'm glad you're finding it interesting so far. And you've been doing more than your share of helping spread the word! A dog somewhere will one day, not far off, have plenty reasons to thank you :)

      Delete
  4. Good reminder about the below nose and letting them sniff you or whatever you're holding.

    Mars xx
    @TrollbeadBlog from
    Curling Stones for Lego People

    ReplyDelete
  5. These are such wonderful practical points. After you've rescued many dogs all of this is instinctive and you forget that you have to actually tell people how to do it. You've done a very good job of it.
    Loved your dog nose pic and of course the inquisitive puppies.
    Cheers,
    www.kalpanaawrites.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know exactly what you mean, Kalpanaa! I planned these posts as short bullet-point lists, but then I think, "Wait—this should be explained," and... they just get longer and longer :D I'm glad you feel it's been done well; it means a lot, coming from a fellow rescuer.

      Thanks for coming by!

      Delete
  6. All of our animals are rescues... great points!

    Welcome in the letter "B"... thank you!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2016]

    Stop over and find a free "SIX STRINGS: BLOGGING AtoZ CHALLENGE" Here: http://www.jmhdigital.com/

    HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
    You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Jeremy, you've just become my favorite A2Z co-host :) Seriously, kudos for giving rescues a home... You guys are the ones who make it possible, because we couldn't take in any more unless someone was adopting the earlier rescues. Thank you for that, and for coming by to say hi. Off to check your posts now.

      Delete
  7. Great points about what could go amiss and how to address them--awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Fab post, very interesting read and a few things I wouldn't have thought of
    Debbie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Debbie. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

      Delete
  9. Really useful info about dog behavior. Thanks!

    Yvonne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear you think so, Yvonne! Thanks for visiting :)

      Delete
  10. Wow. This whole rescue thing is an Art Form. Who knew there were so many ways to screw something up????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're not kidding, Robin :D Thanks for coming by!

      Delete
  11. Excellent points, all. Most of these can be applied to any strange dog you're trying to befriend. Parents should teach this to their kids as well, when they want to pet an unknown dog on the street.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debbie, YES! We have very poor etiquette when it comes to interacting with animals — the only reason we don't see more dog attacks is due entirely to their loyal and patient (and human-loving) nature... They'll put up with so much from us.

      Thanks for the visit!

      Delete
  12. I swear that closeup of the dog's nose is a German wirehaired pointer - I have one ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It could well be, Tami! I got the image off the 'net, so can't be 100% sure, but it sure looks like one. Great dogs, too... So wise-looking ;)

      Thanks for coming by!

      Delete
  13. Great post. Coincidentally, I'm going to visit a dog rescue centre next week. My last rescue dog was a wonderful boy and I'm hoping to get lucky again. Good luck with the Challenge - I'm going to enjoy visiting you again.
    My theme is wildlife encounters, so animal related in a different way! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great, Susan! Oh, I do hope you find a great dog to bring home. And kudos to you for adopting from a rescue organization... That's the central spoke on which rescue runs. So, on behalf of all the strays out there waiting to be picked up, thank you for making space for one more :)

      Delete
  14. Great post. Coincidentally, I'm going to visit a dog rescue centre next week. My last rescue dog was a wonderful boy and I'm hoping to get lucky again. Good luck with the Challenge - I'm going to enjoy visiting you again.
    My theme is wildlife encounters, so animal related in a different way! :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Your theme is as fun as it is entertaining! I don't run around petting Cujos but I am friendly with stays and ever cognizant of their sense of space. I guess dogs are not so different from people in that respect:-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too right, Diedre... dogs are quite similar to us in so many ways; they just show it differently ;) Oh, and "...petting Cujos" — this made me laugh out loud :D

      Thanks for the visit!

      Delete
  16. Mark Twain wrote: "No good deed goes unpunished." We must prepare for the bruises and wounds that come with helping the helpless. :-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too right, Roland. I hope you don't mind; I used your comment (duly attributed and linked, of course) as the intro to the C post :)

      Thanks for coming by!

      Delete
  17. things I never thought of! Good stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I rescued a mom with nine pups in the middle of winter my first year in Alaska, it was 50 below. The dog belonged to my landlord. He'd abandoned them, he no longer lived in our building, he'd moved to the city. But he'd made a point to tell us not to interfere with Lady or her pups, by feeding or caring for them in any way. But at 50 below I couldn't leave her or them outside. I brought them in and they were doing beautifully, a mess to clean up every night when I got home from work, but I was thrilled. Until I came home from work and they were all gone. The landlord got word and took them. I was told he was beyond angry. Now he'd have to put the puppies in a sack and throw into the river. I should have let the weather and the wolves have them. I honestly don't know what happened to them, he was heartless! I was crushed. At that time, no one cared, an animal was less than property. I never saw Lady again, and a few months later the landlord threw me out too. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Yolanda, how sad. People can be so, so cruel. Though I was heartened by this you wrote: "At that time, no one cared"... which makes me think you feel things are different now, at least a bit—and, if that's true, it means there's a glimmer of hope :)

      Delete
  19. I always admire those who rescue...some are on youtube and it is so moving to feel the love in the rescuer's voice. Great post!! I like that you have kept the same theme for this challenge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Cheryl! I feel the same way... some of those rescues on YouTube make me tear up just from hearing the tenderness in the rescuer's voice.

      Delete
  20. Giulie, all of this is info will store away. Not planning to become a rescuer because I'm not awesome enough, but you never know when an emergency situation might arise. You're doing a great public service (both by rescuing and by educating us about how it works!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're wrong, Susan; you most definitely are awesome enough! I don't think any rescuer set out to become one intentionally; everyone I know that rescues got into it by accident, they found themselves in that emergency situation you speak of, and it just went on from there. One day a dog will have his/her life to thank you for, and I'll be so, so proud to have been a small part of that :)

      Thanks so much for the visit, Susan—and for wanting to be prepared.

      Delete
  21. Loved your post, Guilie. I didn't know about not looking a dog in the eye.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear that, Bob! I lived a huge chunk of my life without knowing that, either... No wonder I botched so many rescues :D

      Thanks for the visit!

      Delete
  22. So many good tips, all in one post! I think that humans tend to think of dogs as furry humans, so it's hard not to want to treat them that way too. So much of what we do wrong (the touching, eye contact) is what we inherently do when we are trying to do "right". Great reminders that dogs are special in their own way and need to be treated specially :)

    Tracy (Black Boots, Long Legs)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spot-on, Tracy—we really do treat dogs as "furry humans". Dogs who have grown up with humans will chalk our lack of "etiquette" up to our ignorance and just put up with it as part of our "clueless but lovable nature"... but dogs who have reason to distrust us won't, and that's when miscommunication happens. Kind of like the culture-clash gaffes we Westerners might make in, say, Asia :D

      Thanks so much for the visit!

      Delete
  23. I like that you've touched on an array of different circumstances you might find yourself in. Great compilation.
    Have a great evening Guilie. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Sounds like you had a busy weekend... loved the ferret photos :)

      Delete
  24. I'm SO loving your visuals. Will take notes!!
    The AtoZ of EOS
    #TeamDamyanti

    ReplyDelete
  25. Wow, months spent on a rescue is superb dedication!

    Getting down to their level works for my sheep too, if I have an angsty one it often relaxes if I kneel - us tall two-leggeds just can't be trusted.

    Loving these posts Guilie, so engagingly written, packed with interesting and enlightening info, and topped off with the perfect photos.

    But even more, I love what you and your fellow rescuers are doing. Your blood's worth bottling, as my mum would have said :) .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Us tall two-leggeds just can't be trusted" — loved this, Mandy. So, so true. And I'm so glad you're enjoying these posts! Means so much from a fellow dog lover :) The bottling-blood compliment might be the nicest thing anyone's every said to me!

      Delete
  26. Some of those points apply equally to humans. Basically a matter of gaining trust before any invasion of personal space happens, right?

    No reason to modify my first opinion of this theme/blog. Beyond worthwhile. And well articulated.

    Nilanjana
    Madly-in-Verse

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Nilanjana! You're so right, it's all a matter of respect... and of finding common ground for communication :)

      Delete
  27. Hello Guillie. Dina Marie here dropping by to say Hi and was reading your blog. I wish you a good luck to succeed A to Z Challenge!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Dina Marie, and happy A2Z-ing for you too :)

      Delete
  28. Thanks so much Guilie, an amazing read - :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. EXCELLENT post Guilie! Such great information. I'm learning a lot from your series (I never thought about curling my fingers when offering my hand for a sniff! That's a great idea!).
    Guess what? The loose elusive greyhound was spotted yesterday, sunning him or herself. So they have the area pinned down. Now if they can only get close enough to rescue. The dog is a "spook" -- what we call a dog who is afraid of people. It's been weeks but hopefully they're getting closer to capture. At least he/she is eating the food that is being put out so he/she isn't starving. I'll keep you posted...

    Michele at Angels Bark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michele, that's EXCELLENT news! Oh, I hope they do catch him/her! Yes, please do keep me posted. I'll be sending positive thoughts the way of this greyhound (and his/her rescuers) :)

      Delete
  30. Even if I don't ever put these pointers to practice, I'm learning a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Very good pointers, and man, how well written! A pleasure to read!
    I'm pleased to say I'm doing these whenever I meet a dog (rescue or not, I try to speak their "language ") but I'm sure in a stressed situation it'd be different.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'd be surprised, Andrea, how fast instinctive behavior kicks in under stress. If this is how you greet any new dog, you'd probably do exactly the same in a rescue situation—that's who you are, that's how you communicate. Go for it! ;)

      Thank you so much for the compliment!

      Delete
  32. A wonderful service you are doing through your A to Z. Thank you and I wish you the best success through the challenge.
    @ScarlettBraden from
    Frankly Scarlett

    ReplyDelete
  33. This proves that you need patience, patience and more patience. You gave excellent tips and I wish more people would not try to pet a dog by always patting their head.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really, right? I see people doing that all the time. The fact people don't get bitten more often is due entirely to a dog's forbearance, the poor things.

      Thanks for the visit, Birgit!

      Delete

No love like Dog Love--or Commenter Love!