Do you have your dog’s back?

When you take your dog out, whether it’s for a walk around the neighborhood, or a trip to the dog park, or to run errands in dog-friendly stores, do you have your dog’s back? Do you support him in any way you can? Do you expect him to behave perfectly at all times?



What about when you’ve newly adopted? How quickly do you expect the new dog to behave perfectly? To fit in to your home, your routine, your life? Especially if it’s an adult dog, do you adopt assuming they will be perfection? That they will automatically be everything you want and expect?



You have probably guessed where this is going, but if you haven’t I will explain…Pace has been returned. Now as a disclaimer, this is not meant to be a judgmental post. It is more about expectations that humans have of dog’s. Promise. So, here’s the story….

I took Pace to his adopters’ house on Tuesday. Everyone was very excited and happy. I went over the paperwork, which includes vet records, brochures we have from local trainers, & other doggie businesses, as well as informational things all dog owners should know. I said, stressed!, how important it was to allow Pace two weeks to settle in. I reminded them that Pace has most likely never been an inside family pet. Everything will be new to him. The first two weeks should be relaxed, all about creating a bond between him and his new owners. I even suggested getting signed up for a training class, as this is a great way to bond, and Pace could use the obedience training…he’s super smart, but again, most likely never had a committed owner that worked with him. I personally taught him how to sit, so what could a previous owner have done? Not much, obviously. Anyway…we went over the importance of using a halter because of Pace’s strength, keeping him on leash at all times, using a crate when not being supervised in the home. I finalized the adoption, said goodbye, and went home.



Two hours later I got a call from the husband. He sounded frustrated, said that Pace had “marked” in the house about 4 times, including across their dresser. He said that this wasn’t going to work out, they weren’t at the stage in their lives where they want to potty train a dog, etc. I explained that this is not a potty training issue, but that I would do some research and talk to the LHR president for some suggestions. It sounded like the decision was already made though, and that Pace would be coming back. Still, I talked to Angela, and did lots of research. I emailed the adopter a very long message about the importance of allowing a dog time to settle in, reasons why a dog marks in a new setting (insecurity, being unsure…), and ways to make it stop. Everything I found assures the reader that “marking” is a temporary issue. So I forwarded all of the info I had that night…

Wednesday came and went, with no contact. Maybe this was good news? Maybe they realized how important it is to allow the dog time?

Then Thursday morning came, and I got the phone call. He thanked me for the email, and said I was right. The “marking” stopped. He said they had a great day and night with Pace, took him out for walks, spent time with him. He said what a good dog Pace was, and so smart. However, the wife had taken Pace out for a walk that morning, and he got away from her. (How? I’m not sure.) He ran into a man and a rottweiler and “confronted” them. This scared the wife, and made them realize that Pace was just too much for them, too strong of a dog, basically. He seemed to sound remorseful, said again what a great dog Pace is, and arrangements were made for the return. Pace is now back at his foster’s, settling in, again.



I try my best not to judge. Or to be mad. I will always want a dog to be returned, rather than in a home where he is not wanted. But again, I ask…what do we expect from our four-legged friends? How quickly do we expect a dog to settle in? We should be taking into account what their past was, thinking what they have been through, what their life was like before coming into our homes. We should be thinking of ways that we can have our dog’s backs. How we can make them feel safe and secure; how we can strengthen a bond with them; how we can show them that we are the good guy and that they can trust us. Patience, routine, and training is SO important when getting a new dog, no matter the age. These three things are what will create a lifelong relationship between the dog and the owner. I can’t stress that enough. Dogs are not perfect. Neither are humans. Expecting them to be will only result in a failed attempt of a life together.

Pace4Pace5Pace1 Pace1Pace3 

*Pace is a 2 yr old, Australian Cattle Dog mix. He is active and strong, sweet and loving. He is good with other dogs and kids. Pace is adoptable through Last Hope Rescue, in Tallahassee, FL. He is neutered, up to date on vaccines, and micro-chipped. Adoption fee is $125, and transport within FL can be arranged. Please share if you know anyone who might want to show Pace what love, commitment, and patience is all about!! 


19 thoughts on “Do you have your dog’s back?”

  1. I’m so sorry pace was returned, but I agree better he be returned than in a bad situation. He really needs a family with patience and time they can devote to him settling it. I think it is the same with people moving into a new place, it takes a while to get settled, the same should be expected of any pet. Everything new and strange, reassurance is key. Giving them a safe place to retreat when they get overwhelmed is also a good idea.

  2. I would add that Rescue needs to make the adopters aware of all the possibly ‘adjustment’ behaviors they may possibly see within the first few weeks or a month, and give a long list of those behaviors to the new family and have a solution right next to each. The solution may be an explanation of how to handle a ‘surprise’ behavior. Sometimes just knowing that a behavior is normal in the adjustment process is a calming factor for the new family. In Pace’s case, it might have been a good idea to let them know that he needed a trainer to work with them on heeling, etc. It can be daunting to be walking a strong dog, who is new to you, down the street, and meet up with another strong dog, without knowing how to handle things if something should start happening. I think adopters are sometimes naive about what to expect and even more naive about what to do if something crops up. The hearts of adopters are genuine and we should try to find the right fit even if the first doesn’t work out.

    1. We always try our best to make them aware of any possible behaviors that might pop up. We also include tons of informational print outs in the adoption packet. With this particular couple, I personally explained MULTIPLE times that Pace was going to need a halter, training, and that they should carry treats with him to reward when he walked properly without pulling. We also went over techniques on how to correct any issues, at the time of adoption. I also had them feel how strong he was when they initially met him. I literally discussed his strength at least 5 times. I repeated over and over how important it was to get him into a training class, to use a halter, etc. We as the rescue can only do so much though. We cannot force people to listen or take our suggestions. There are no hard feelings though. This couple was very nice, however I personally believe their expectations were too high for adopting a shelter/rescue dog. As I said, creating a bond and allowing a couple weeks for the dog to settle in is extremely important. They called within two HOURS. Pace was just not the right dog for them. I know the right person for him is out there though, and thankfully he has a great foster in the meantime!

  3. Well, at least Pace is safe at his foster home, waiting for his perfect family.

    Strong, active dogs take more work — lots of exercise, trips to the park or other new places, and mental stimulation in the form of training. People who adopt active dogs need to understand that these dogs are an OPPORTUNITY, not a burden. If you’ve been saying to yourself “I need to spend more time outside. I need to be more active, walk around my neighborhood more, seek out parks and green spaces where I can be more physical.” it’s time to get an active dog.

    In the middle of watching a movie at home, when the girls start going crazy, and I take them outside to throw the ball for them, sometimes I have to remind myself that being outside, seeing the beauty of the night sky, hearing the noises of the natural world around me, this is something I would hardly every experience if it wasn’t for my dogs.

    People who work with rescues must spend a lot of time doing deep breathing exercises to keep from smacking people. Bless you again and again.

    1. You always make me laugh. 🙂 Yes, I agree. When I have to stop and take my bratty restless pittie out for play time, I do the same. I appreciate the warmth of the sun, or the chilly air. I appreciate the beauty in the parks and trails we frequent, ones that I would never have found if it weren’t for the need to exercise my pups. And to this best sentence ever: “People who work with rescues must spend a lot of time doing deep breathing exercises to keep from smacking people.” Yes! 😉 Stay tuned for the next post because you will be mentioned…dun dun duuunnnn! 🙂

    2. Some adopters have stars in their eyes and they think they are ‘good to go’ with a nice dog, without realizing how much work goes into owning any dog, even a young puppy. I wonder if they would return a puppy so quickly if it had an accident in the house? Some things just happen for the best and the fact that they returned Pace so quickly means that they did not have a chance to ‘ruin’ him for the next adopter. So happy to hear how much you do to prepare the new families- it’s hard work saving lives and you do such a good job of it!

  4. It’s goes without saying, I agree with everything you said! It’s frustrating but just means there is an even better family for Pace, and hopefully this family will adopt a different dog and two lives will be saved!

    1. Agreed! I think they definitely will adopt another. I was actually thinking of reaching out to them in a few days, if we had another dog that might fit their needs…if the boss lady agrees, that it. 😉 Either way though I think you are right. There IS someone out there for Pace!

      1. I definitely share the frustration though. I’ve spent about an hour every night w Gracie’s adopters. They don’t want to return or anything, but they seem to not understand that sometimes it just takes a while to adjust!

  5. I’m sorry that he was returned! But, at the same token, it sounds like the family could have been a bit more patient. When you take in a rescue dog, you need to realize that they may not have the best of backgrounds, and they’re probably struggling with some issues involving trust and acclimating. They’re not going to fit in to your home perfectly after a week, and if you choose to adopt one of them, you need to accept that sometimes!

  6. The first thing I will say about this is that for you as someone who cares so deeply for Pace, I’m so sorry 😦 That has to be one of the hardest parts about fostering and rescuing. I will choose to ignore the part about the family, just because like you, I try not to judge and obviously Pace deserves a family that understands and can accommodate his specific needs. I really loved the beginning of this post, and maybe you could elaborate on it in a future post? The idea of owners who don’t have their dogs’ backs and put them into situations they are not equipped to handle is a frustration of mine.

  7. Your story was a great read as to how foster parents can learn from their foster pets. Especially your conclusion about how neither dogs or humans are perfect, so we definitely cannot have that kind of expectations. I’d love to share your story with our pet fostering organization, Furry Foster.

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