Your home has been approved for placement of a rescue. You’ve gotten the call, and are making plans to pick your new family member! In order to make the transition a smooth one we offer the following advice...

Bringing Your Baby Home

A Successful Adoption – by Pam Mayes

Please know that all intentions to guide you are based on experience and the knowledge of the personality of the dog being placed with you. LISTEN to the foster Mom or Dad! They really do know what they are talking about; and most of all, they love “your” Pug.

Above all, we ask you NOT to bring the resident dog with you at the time of placement. This is to protect him or her of their feelings. Adding a new member to your already established pack takes careful planning and consideration of their feelings above all. Your first encounter with the rescue needs to be one that will begin the establishment of trust. To confuse the issue with more than one dog is asking too much. The first meeting should be on neutral territory, preferably outside of your home with both dogs on leash and reassurance to the resident dog that he is still the most important one in your life! The rescue will adjust in time. The exception to this of course is placing a puppy with a puppy! Older dogs deserve a chance to warm up to the “new kid” in their own due time.

Please ignore your rescue and shower your resident dog with tons of affection those first few days! What? Ignore your new friend? Your first dog or dogs deserve to know that they are still secure in your world. The rescue truly needs a chance to observe his surroundings without feeling threatened. Absolutely have your eye on him or her at all times, but give them the space they need to adjust. Make sure that proper identification is on your dogs, all of them, at all times. We suggest a soft collar (not tight!!) for identification purposes and a harness for walking. Pugs just should not be pulled by the neck due to their thick skin folds and sensitive tracheas. The foster Mom or Dad can tell you what size you will need; and you should bring this with you at the time of placement.

Please understand that these dogs do not know what your expectations are when they enter your life. You will have to show them. They have been on a different routine than yours and this will take patience and consistency on your part. Remember, they do not know where the back door is! Even the most housebroken dog has to be shown where the “safe” places are.

Do not be surprised if your rescue does not eat at first. We do suggest hand feeding if this is the case. It’s an excellent bonding tool; and will allow you to accurately judge how much he or she is eating. This should only be needed for a day or two – any time longer and you will be setting a place at the table! You will be told of the diet he or she is currently on, and transitional food is often sent. We do suggest you change food gradually. There is so much going on in their little brains those first few days, it is not at all unusual for tummies to become upset, or stools to be loose. The foster home will be able to guide you in what is, and what is not, normal.

Please, please, please DO NOT OVERFEED your Pug. We understand the need to feel that you have to make up for lost time. After all, this is a rescue! Remember, the rescuing was done by the rescue organization. We will guide you on how much you should feed, how much of a weight range should be allowed, and your dog’s current eating routine. As with people, every dog’s metabolism and activity level is different, and should be adjusted accordingly. What you are feeding your two-year old may be more than a senior will need.
We do recommend a high quality dog food and can certainly help with your decision on what, when and how much to feed.

Though all of our rescues are checked by a rescue veterinarian and treated accordingly, we do encourage a visit to your veterinarian for an introduction, transfer of records, heartworm preventatives, etc. While our rescues are deemed adoptable before placement, it is impossible to provide any type of health guarantee. While a small percentage of rescues come with medical records, we often have to start from scratch with a life history. We may make recommendations about health concerns we have; and definitely will instruct you on medication schedules, if any, that the dog is on and on “what we know.” We do ask that any medical procedures you feel may need to be done, first be cleared with the rescue organization for the first two weeks following placement. Many dogs have conditions that have been treated that may “flare up” if stressed by certain circumstances. Demodectic mange is just one of these conditions, and sadly very common in rescue.

Our rescue organization has a rule of “paw” that if a dog comes from a negative situation; we start their life over with a new name. If life circumstances gave no other choice than to turn to rescue, and the dog’s life has been one where the dog was very much loved, the name remains the same. Names do at times have to be changed if there are resident dogs in the foster or permanent home with the same name. However, if you do change the name, please start off slowly by hyphenating the new and old name and calling him as such before dropping the name he or she came to you with. Remember, their response to you is all based on the tone of your voice.

We urge all adoptive families to “mentally foster” those first few weeks in rescue. As strange as it seems to hear a rescuer say “you do not have to immediately fall in love with the dog” we strongly suggest you try not to at first. As much as we do our homework in trying to match the Pug to your personality and lifestyle, sometimes the timing is just not right. By not allowing yourself to immediately feel there is no turning back is not being fair to yourself, the rescue organization, and above all the Pug you have adopted. We commit to be there for the Pug for the rest of his or her life. In the event mistakes are made, we must be notified. We do ask that you try not to make a situation work that just isn’t meant to be. This is detrimental to the dog. Does that mean you will never get another Pug from this rescue organization? Absolutely not, in fact, we applaud you for realizing a situation that is not in either of your best interest.

Many of the rescues we represent will have behavioral issues, and these may be worsened by rehoming. We will do our best to alert you to what we have dealt with, but again, we just cannot predict what the stress of change may do to them. Many of these rescues never knew love until entering rescue. Change is hard; but adjustments are certain when given the patience they will require. Remember that negative behavior gets your attention, and to scold a dog that is only trying to win your heart and affection is only futile. Show him or her what you expect and praise the progress each and every day with a hug, a treat, and always be animated with your response to good behavior! Clap, turn cartwheels, strike up the band with good behavior, but as hard as it may be, ignore and redirect the bad behavior.

Remember to laugh. Enjoy the adjustments of the first few weeks; and look in the eyes of that precious little angel who you opened your heart to and you will understand what we mean when we say the end result is worth the effort.

Lastly, but just as importantly, allow the foster parents and rescue organization to continue to be a part of your “baby’s” life through e-mail, snail mail, phone calls or pictures. A piece of our heart goes with each and every placement. We need the reassurance that we made the right choice. As strange as it sounds, when we see you at a later time with that special rescue, it’s having them not recognize us that lets us know that we indeed found perfect.

These guidelines are strictly based on the experiences of this rescue organization. Permission to reproduce must be granted by the author.

Pam Mayes
President, Alabama Pug Rescue and Adoption, Inc.
Alabama Pug Rescue and Adoption, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization