How a rescue dog changed our lives…

Rescuing Gracie_BlogPost1

Mom is one of those crazy early morning runners. She especially loves crisp autumn morning runs. Nearing the end of such a run she suddenly became aware of a pathetic, scrawny, flea and tick infested little dog following her.

Despite being the crack of dawn, she knew she couldn’t leave this dog on the streets one moment longer. Her initial plan was to drop it off at one of the rescue centres once they opened. The pathetic ball of fur was swiftly bundled into the back of the car and taken home. I bounded out to greet mom and instinctively sniffed out a notably foreign (very smelly) dog on the backseat.

Frankly, between you and me, I wasn’t happy with this foul-smelling rescue invading my territory. ‘The rescue’ was left on the back seat with food and water as she was simply too terrified to move. A little while later Mom decided “the rescue” would benefit from a warm bath and a bed. She assured me that she would then be dropping her off at the shelter…you can see where this is going.

After bath time “the rescue” was allowed into the house. She slunk inside and under the dining room table curling up into a small ball. Terrified. Amidst the usual household activities, she remained frozen in a tight ball, her eyes darting around observing her new surroundings. For nearly 24 hours she hid and slept under the table. Under the circumstances, if I had been homeless and finally had a nice warm bed to sleep on, I too would want to take a long nap. Finally safe but simply exhausted.

Our little rescue was given the “temporary” name Gracie. Over the next few days she began decompressing and as a result grew in confidence, her tail slowly started to wag. Timidly she started to explore her surroundings and interact with us.

Despite many viewings from potential dog parents, no one wanted Gracie and without intending to, she crept into our hearts. While we already had a full house, we couldn’t let her go to a shelter. As much as I would love to tell you that we all lived happily ever after, alas this was not the reality.

When adopting a stray, they often come with their own set of issues. Dustbin day triggered a very trashy habit in Gracie we called the “The Great Escape”. She would squeeze through the fence, rummage through our neighbour’s rubbish, indiscriminately scattering it all over the road. She also had a problem understanding the demarcated area for ablutions, instead relieving herself on the leather couch, duvets and becoming especially partial to Dad’s sock draw! Mom nearly tore her hair out as the house soon adopted a smell of urine! Despite a rocky start, with love and patience Gracie eventually settled and subsequently has blossomed into a loving, loyal little creature.

Humans here are some of the lessons to be learnt when on a rescue mission:

  1. Although Mom picked up a stray from the road, it is never advisable to do so because of the high number of cases of rabies in our country. The best option is to phone your local shelter for assistance. If you absolutely must intervene, then make sure to wear full clothing and protective gloves.
  2. Know that when you adopt a rescue, they will need time to adjust and settle. The general advice is that adopted dogs take 3 days to decompress, 3 weeks to know your routine, and three months to start to feel at home. Even then, you still may have behavioural challenges that you might have to work through.
  3. Be firm and consistent in your training, while maintaining routines. This will allow your rescue to settle and find their place within your family.

Until every dog has a home, we will need rescue- dog mom and dads to step forward. In conclusion, going out of your way to help an animal (or person) isn’t often convenient. Often requiring sacrifice and normally costing time, money, or both. However, in the case of Gracie the reward of unwavering loyalty and love far outweighed the cost. While we didn’t go looking for her, Gracie adds a deeper dimension to our family, and we are better with her as part of it.

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