Written by Ioana Busuioc, October 2018
Special thanks to our fabulous Animal Behavior Coordinator Natasha Pupulin for her help on behavioral and temperament-related content!
The third and final part of the three part series. Enjoy!
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
Reality: The beauty with animals is that, much like people, they all have their own unique ways of learning. If something doesn’t stick, there are many resources at one’s disposal to try and explore alternative ways of approaching training differently. Similarly to humans, dogs go through a series of development stages as they grow; just like babies, puppies are naturally curious and learn from experiencing the world, but as they grow, they require more structured learning in order to acquire and retain new information. For example, a dog who has grown up in the absence of sidewalks may find it hard to walk so close to strangers and moving cars. This could cause them to experience discomfort, or potentially feel unsafe for them. By using targeted techniques that address the underlying fears that the dog has about this activity, we can teach the dog that the whole experience of being on a sidewalk is safe and fun! If we break this challenge down into manageable pieces for the dog, reinforce choices and experiences with high value reinforcement, we can affect change, promote a feeling of safety for the dog, and thus successfully overcome this obstacle! Having a fully stocked toolbox of techniques and knowledge that are specific to your adult dog, adolescent, or puppy, will make sure you are successful in whatever you set out to accomplish. The behaviour team is well versed in the next steps for your foster, and will often share recommendations on your dog’s file that you may find helpful in selecting a dog that you will enjoy working with, as well as the techniques that the dog requires for success.
The age of the dog will determine the activity level, and therefore it is an important factor to consider when adopting a dog.
Reality: Not at all! As Natasha, our Animal Behaviour Coordinator, states, she can “think of tons of cases where 4 month old puppies, teenagers, and young adults, have arrived at AARCS and in foster homes and act nothing like their age”. Energy and playfulness are primarily determined by the dog’s perception of safety in their environment and their level of socialization. Where there is a lack of perceived safety, or socialization, the dog may choose to suppress otherwise normal play or movement in favour of drawing as little attention to themselves as possible. Although age may be important to families considering the amount of time they will spend with their new furry family member, it should not be used as an indicator of activity alone. Talking to our knowledgeable adoption counselors and/or foster parents will give a much clearer understanding on whether the dog’s energy fits with your family’s expectations and lifestyle.
The adoption process takes too much time, or it is too difficult.
Reality: The adoption process through a rescue is comprised of several steps, but it is only because we are dedicated to ensuring that the animal is placed in its forever home with the right family, home, lifestyle, and so forth. The procedure is there to make your life (and the animal’s!) easier, since it goes beyond simply giving a pet a home, but more so giving a pet the RIGHT home, their forever home, and of course, so that the new owner(s) know more accurately what the animal will be like. AARCS’ adoption procedures are as follows:
Step 1. Completing the appropriate adoption application form, all of which are located online at http://aarcs.ca/application-forms
Step 2. The Adoptions Coordinator will review the application and email the applicant typically between 24 and 48 hours
Step 3. Upon the approval of the application, if there is a foster family, they will contact the applicant within 48 hours to arrange a “meet and greet”, which all family members must attend
Note: If you have cats and/or dogs, all family dogs must be present for the “meet and greet” for adoptable dogs. Cats do not need to attend these meetings and dogs do not need to attend them for adoptable cats, only dogs. Slow introductions with cats are always strongly encouraged!
Step 4. For a dog adoption, we request that applicants take a day to think about your decision, and to discuss the potential adoption openly and fully with all members of the household. If the applicant makes a decision, they are to contact the Adoption Coordinator with their decision at email@example.com no later than 24 hours after the meeting.
For a cat adoption, the same guidelines apply, however we do permit same day adoptions. Should the applicant decide on a same day adoption, they must come prepared with a pet carrier. Applicants must pay the adoption fee and provide proof of payment to the foster home before the cat can be released. Adoption fees can be paid online on our website, by calling or visiting our shelter during business hours, or in some cases we can accept e-transfers as well, and we encourage applicants to talk to the Adoptions Coordinator for more information! For kittens under the age of 6 months, we prefer homes with existing feline companions, as kittens require significant stimulation and interaction with other cats/kittens for healthy social development, as well as taking into consideration that kittens with litter-mates or cat companions tend to be happier and healthier.
Step 5. If all parties are in favor of the adoption (adoption committee, foster family, and prospective adoptive family), and it is not a same day cat adoption, applicants can pick up their new family member the following day or arrange for a mutually beneficial time with the foster home. Please be prepared for your new pet, with food, bed, toys, and bowls before he or she comes home!
Note: AARCS provides vaccinations for all animals while in our care, however the adoptive family is responsible for vaccinations and continued deworming that come due after the adoption is completed. All AARCS animals are spayed or neutered prior to adoption, and this cost is included in the adoption fee.
Shelter dogs will have more health problems that I will end up having to pay for.
Reality: One of the best things about AARCS as a shelter in particular is that we have a vet clinic on site through which all animals get treated, vaccinated, and operated upon! By adoption from a shelter, potential adopters can more easily ensure that the animal they are interested in has already been seen by a veterinarian and all health concerns are transparent and well documented. Again, we want to ensure the best possible match for adopter and pet alike, and this certainly includes a level of health that is appropriate for the adopter’s capabilities. Yes, there are some animals that will end up requiring treatment for either short term periods of time or for long term periods of time, but we do not want to hide this for the sake of an adoption. Some individuals are better suited and in positions in which they can more readily take care of animals with various health conditions, the same way certain individuals may not be ready for a special needs animal. It’s also worth keeping in mind that shelter dogs come in many breeds and sizes, but because many of them are mixed-breed, this gives them better genetic variety, which can ultimately lead to healthier lives!
Note: If an applicant is interested in a special needs pet or one that will require more careful medical attention, AARCS is well equipped to ensure the applicant has all the necessary information and support moving forward!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article, and keep in mind that any questions regarding adoption can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for dogs, or email@example.com for cats! Our dedicated staff is always ready to make sure potential applicants get the information they need to ensure a match made in heaven!
Campbell Thornton, K. (March 7th, 2007). The ABCs of Adopting a Purebred Dog from an Animal Shelter, retrieved from http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/the-abcs-of-adopting-a-purebred-dog-from-an-animal-shelter
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