This is a series that will post on Wednesdays touching on the various joys and struggles of adopting a rescue dog. Many people have adopted rescues or may be considering it and we thought that a look into what the process is like and the various challenges that may go along with this would be beneficial and of interest to readers. Keep in mind that this is one couple’s story and that every rescue adoption is unique. We look forward to sharing these installments with you weekly! Part 1 is available through this link.

An Adoption Story Part 2 — Did we make a mistake??
Chris and I spent a week preparing to welcome Nymeria into our home (we decided to rename her Sadie). We scouted out potential hazards and complications. Video game controllers, power cords, where to put the shoes, my houseplants, any available cleaning chemicals,etc. We were given a large crate but we had to purchase an ID tag, collar, short and long leash, treats, food, a few toys, a pillow, a crate mat and carpet cleaner.

These items were necessary and basic but we weren’t prepared for how much pet supplies cost—wow, sticker shock! We were judicious with pricing out the items we needed but we still spent around $150 on items in preparation for adopting Sadie. We met the people from the rescue at a large pet store, where they were doing an adoption event, and they were extremely helpful with recommending products and giving advice. We were given copies of her medical records and all medication she is currently taking (pain relief for her recent spay) and the last bit of medication for hookworm.

Sadie did great on the ride home! But then we made a huge mistake of not walking her around outside before taking her into the house. When inside, we let her sniff around and become at least a little familiar with her new digs… and within five minutes she had pooped and peed on our carpet. Ugh. We took her out immediately and she peed again.

Once inside and settled down, she then proceeded to poop and pee again! What was up with this?! We thought she was house-trained! We discussed what could be happening and decided that because this was a completely new environment and she was excited and probably nervous, it was not that unusual for some “mistakes.” We also considered the fact that she was on medication and that this could be causing more frequent elimination. We got online and started researching house training and transitioning dogs to new homes, and we found some excellent advice and decided to enact several key strategies.

  • Knowing that regular feeding=regular pooping, and given that we didn’t have information on what her schedule had been like earlier in the day, we decided that starting now, with us, she would be fed at the same times everyday and not fed or given water two hours before bed time.
  • We decided to gradually give her access to rooms in the house, so we purchased two baby gates to decrease her area to three main large rooms. We decided that eventually when we had an established routine, we would allow her access to the rest of the house.
  • Until we know her better, we take her outside ½ hour to an hour after eating or after play time and stay with her outside for a nice chunk of time. We found that she often poops 2-4 times in close succession. We have designated an area outside for pooping/peeing and take her to the same spot each time and reward her with praise and a treat every time she goes potty in this place.
  • We both agreed we didn’t want to encourage begging so we don’t feed Sadie human food (except for peanut butter in her toys) or food from the counter. Hopefully this will also help keep her diet consistent and help her stool.

Whoa, this is a lot of work! We knew there would be issues to figure out but we weren’t anticipating  a nearly total lack of house training! We had an honest discussion about each of our individual expectations and the level of commitment. My main concern was that I would be “stuck” caring for a dog by myself. I needed to know that Chris was just as committed as I was. Sadie has taken a quick liking to me and of course, I love it. It’s easier for me to be patient with her, but Chris has struggled. He hasn’t connected with her as quickly. I have no doubt that a bond will grow; it will just take more time, but this makes putting up with accidents and shenanigans more difficult for him.

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Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is a locally-owned animal hospital operating for over 90 years in Ann Arbor, MI.