Saturday, April 30, 2016

A-Z of #Dog Rescue: Youth vs Age — #AtoZChallenge


What are the pros and cons of rescuing older vs. younger dogs? Is it really easier to rescue a puppy than a senior? 

Puppies can be easier. They tend to follow Mom’s example, and if Mom is approachable, chances are the puppies will be, too. Even if she isn’t, though, if the puppies are young enough (under 12 weeks), their natural curiosity might still work in your favor. A good rescuer can take advantage of it, and turn the whole rescue into a game. 

In a puppy, also, the natural affinity dogs have for humans might still be unchecked by negative experiences (which produce fear), so although they might be wary at first (they’ve never seen one of us), the domestication gene may be a good rescue ally.

But—you knew there was a but coming, didn’t you?—not all is peaches and cream with those cuddly balls of fur (i.e., they’re not always quite as willing as we’d like to be cuddled). Some of those fear-producing negative experiences seem to be passed on genetically; we fostered a dog once who turned out to be pregnant, probably had just become so a couple of days before we picked her up, and although her puppies were born at home and never knew a bad experience (trust me, we kept three of them and they’ve been as spoiled as any dog ever could be), they’re still fearful. 

If Mom isn’t around, and especially if the puppies are under 8 weeks, their instinct is to hide… Which makes them incredibly hard to find. (Remember the Botched post?) Also, they rarely come singly—there’s usually a litter—so you’re going to have to deal with several of them at once. Pick carefully which one you’ll get first: if that intrepid explorer gets spooked, cries out or fights you as you pick him/her up, chances are the rest of the litter will run and—yep, hide. 

And you also have the mom to contend with. Even the most docile of dogs will become a lioness when her babies are in (what they perceive as) danger. 

Adult dogs, on the other hand, may seem like a tougher job for rescue—but they don’t have to be. If they’ve survived on their own for however long, it means they’re street-smart, which may mean they’ll be warier of humans, but may also mean they have the necessary experience to make judgment calls: is this a good human, or a bad human? 

Don’t misunderstand me; these judgment calls don’t happen overnight, certainly not in a few minutes. What I mean is that these dogs will be willing to give you the chance—they’ll stay at a safe distance, and watch you from there—to show your true colors. But that is one chance, and one chance only. Squander it at your own, and the dog’s, peril.

Because of these street-smarts, adult dogs may also fall easier into a feeding routine than puppies, and, through it, into a relationship with you. Adult dog brains (just like adult human brains) are already wired to look for the pattern, to understand cause and effect, to analyze possible outcomes. If you are constant and consistent, if you follow the Trust Quadre, you have a good chance of establishing yourself in their good graces. 

The truth is that, like with everything else concerning rescuing, the issue of age cannot be taken as hard and fast. The only rule, when it comes to dog rescue, is that every dog is an individual. Every situation is unique. 


As they’re so fond of saying in investment disclaimers, past behavior is no indication of future results. No truer words…

 ~ * ~ 

My apologies on the late posting, guys... I'm about ready to drop, haha. The Z post will go up soon... well, soon-ish. Sometime before midnight :D And, once again, thank you so, so much for all the love you've showered this blog with all month. You've been an amazing crowd, and I'm beyond grateful for your readership. And to celebrate you—and the end of the Challenge—I leave you with this... (No, no Kleenex needed. Unless you're the type that cry when you laugh too hard ;) )

32 comments :

  1. Another enlightening post, Guilie. Thanks for a great series and no worries about being late. We all understand! ☺

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  2. This has been a great series. Informative and fun. Educational and neat. We've had some sobs and some smiles. Thanks for the great month!

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    1. I'm so glad to hear you've found this series enriching, Jeffrey... It's been great from my side, too; all the interaction, the comments, the insight... Really, a wonderful month! Thanks for being a part of it :)

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  3. Excellent post, Guilie - I do hope you'll manage to finish the challenge. (Love the video too!)

    Susan A Eames from
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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    1. Thanks, Susan! Glad you liked the video :)

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  4. Excellent post, Guilie - I do hope you'll manage to finish the challenge. (Love the video too!)

    Susan A Eames from
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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  5. Another great post Guilie! Lots of excellent information and enlightenment. Loved the video too. So funny.

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Glad to hear you liked it, Michele! And thank you for being a part of this... Your guest post rocked—and, judging by the amount of views on it, I wasn't the only one who thought so ;)

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  6. Cheers to another tail-wagging, informative and fun-filled AtZ! There will be lots of wine waiting at the finish line!!

    The AtoZ of EOS
    #TeamDamyanti

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    1. Thanks, Sam! The promise of that wine was what got me there :D

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  7. Guilie, I feel like YOU have fallen into MY life like an accidental blessing. And in the next few days I'm going to start working on my guest post about Leo and how the last week has gone for all of us. (Hint: really well.)
    Talk to you soon!

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    1. Aw, Susan, thank you!!!! Your guest post is brilliant; I love little Leo's story—and yours. You guys are heroes of the best possible kind, and I'm so, so glad to have met you through the Challenge this year :)

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  8. When I started reading this post, I wondered if you were going to say that sometimes adults are easier to approach because they might remember a time from before they were a stray, when they had a family who loved them. Do you have a sense of whether most of the strays in Curacao were at one point family pets that have become lost or abandoned, or if most grew up on the street?

    Tracy (Black Boots, Long Legs)

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    1. Good question, Tracy... You got me thinking here. It's pretty hard to draw hard lines, because a lot of dogs grow up "stray" even though they technically have "owners" and "homes"... People tend to let dogs wander (collarless!!!), and when females get pregnant the puppies are brought up—if you can call it that—the same way. There are definitely a lot of real ferals, but there are also many, many abandoned dogs. And yes, those abandoned ones will be much easier to approach; as you said, they're used to humans, and unless they were abused, they're usually comfortable with human contact. Ferals, on the other hand, are wary by nature... And those are a double challenge :)

      Thanks for bringing that up, Tracy! I'll add it to my notes for adding into the material for the book ;)

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  9. You've done an amazing job, congratulations!

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  10. Good point. It's about the individual, which is true of most things.

    Liz A. from Laws of Gravity

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    1. Well put, Liz; it absolutely is about the individual :) Thank you for coming by!

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  11. These are great reasons for both young and old. Many get a puppy only to return them because of the potty training, the chewing, the digging etc... Whereas the older dog may already be out of those things and may have already been potty trained. I wish more people would sit back and think about what dog suits them and their family. I wish parents would be truthful about their kids...if their kids would be cruel to the animal. I wish they would educate themselves about the dogs and their habits and style. I wish people would figure out the costs also. I love this video and it put a smile on my face.

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    1. All great points, Birgit... and we hope it doesn't stay only at wishful thinking :) Thanks for coming by!

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  12. When we were looking to adopt, one of the "musts" was that we NOT have a puppy. I liked the idea of getting a dog that was a little older. Emmie was somewhere between 3.5 and 4 when we got her. Just perfect!
    ~Katie
    TheCyborgMom

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    1. You're a hero for adopting an adult dog, Katie! They're so hard to place that most of the time they end up in a sanctuary (if they're lucky; otherwise, at limited-space shelters, they'll be put down), or the rescuer(s) will make the decision to leave the dog in the street and care for him/her there as best they can. So kudos to you for saving Emmie—and giving her the kind of life she never imagined could be possible :)

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  13. What a great video!

    My oldest daughter took her newly adopted 8 year old corgi to the vet yesterday, and she's healthy. This dog is fitting right in all situations, and best of all, she's already potty trained!

    Shelly @ http://hangryfork.com

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    1. That's excellent news, Shelly! So, so happy to hear it!

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  14. I would have assumed puppies would be much easier to rescue as I figured they'd just come to you. It actually makes sense though that an older dog would be less likely to show fear once it gets used to the rescuer. The video was adorable, I loved the two that kept spinning :)
    Debbie

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    1. You're not alone in assuming that, Debbie... It's only logical to think puppies are easier; after all, most of us start out with the experience of puppies being loving and oh-so-very-easy to approach. But out there, in the wilderness of street life, things aren't always what they seem :) Glad you enjoyed the video!

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  15. I'm a big advocate of adopting older animals, particularly seniors. It's so heartless to see stories about dogs who are 10 or 15 years old, sometimes even older, being dumped in shelters because their old age is too hard for the owners to handle. I love getting happy ending updates saying they were rescued in time and got a new family to live out their twilight years with. It's easy to want to adopt a cute, cuddly baby animal or human, but the older ones often need a home more.

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    1. Never truer words, Carrie-Anne. Indeed, it's the saddest thing to see a senior being abandoned at a shelter (or, worse, just turned out into the street or dumped in a remote area). I'm glad you do your bit to speak up for these animals... They need it :)

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  16. Very interesting post and worth to think about for people, who wish to adopt a dog. Funny video :-D

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    1. Thanks, Irene :) This is actually geared towards those interested in rescuing a dog; when it comes to adopting, there's a whole bunch of other considerations that need to be taken into account. Thanks for bringing it up, though... Maybe I should write a post about those :)

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  17. My favorite pet is dogs. They are very smart and caring.

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