Rescue Me! Adopting a Dachshund

Love Dog

In This Chapter

  • Weighing the benefits of Dachsie adoption
  • Adopting through a rescue group
  • Finding a Dachshund at the animal shelter
In Chapter May the Best Breeder Win: Finding the Dachshund for You, I talk about purchasing your new dog from a breeder. As I state there, good breeders are great. But as you probably already know, buying a Dachshund puppy from a breeder isn’t your only option. Many Dachshunds are waiting patiently for new homes in breed rescue programs, in animal shelters, and with families who can’t keep them any longer. Many of these dogs are wonderful, devoted, well-trained family members who got the short end of the bone for one reason or another and no longer have a place to go. Common reasons why Dachshunds sometimes lose their homes are divorce, a death in the family, a move to a place that doesn’t allow dogs, or an owner who simply can’t handle the responsibility. This chapter points you in their direction.

On the other hand, some dogs are in rescue programs or shelters because their owners made mistakes in training and/or socialization, bought badly bred dogs, or just ignored their dogs until they became too much trouble. Sad as these scenarios may be, some of these dogs may not be reformable, and attempting to train and socialize any dog that grew up learning bad habits can be tough. Are you up to the task? This chapter helps you find out.

A rescue program’s reason for being

According to the DCA’s rescue program, Dachshund rescue is active around the country and was established
“. . . to aid Dachshund owners in the recovery of their animals when lost, strayed or stolen; to keep Dachshunds out of the hands of laboratories, animal dealers, puppy mills and similar enterprises, and to attempt to keep Dachshunds out of pounds and animal shelters. Sadly, Rescue is most used to place the hundreds of Dachshunds that have been abandoned each year and find homes that will provide the love and care these dogs deserve.”
Help out a rescue program if you can; and if you can’t, please don’t make the problem worse by abandoning a dog you’ve promised to keep.

Making a Friend for Life

Adopting a Dachshund can be one of the most rewarding things you can ever do as a pet owner. People who’ve adopted often claim that their dogs seem eternally and exuberantly grateful throughout their entire lives. Will the dog know what you’ve done for him? Maybe not in so many words, but a dog who has lost his home and then finds one with you will probably be as devoted a dog as you’ll find.
Of course, not every rescued or shelter dog comes pretrained, presocialized, and ready to accept a new home and owner without question. Some dogs were abused and/or neglected. Some weren’t well-trained or socialized in the first place. Some may be sick or have health problems of some kind. Some were badly bred. Some, unfortunately, won’t ever make good pets because they have too many strikes against them.
But many rescued Dachshunds turn out to be wonderful, loving pets. Some don’t have any behavior issues at all, and others may need only a little extra TLC to regain that delightful Dachshund demeanor. If you feel like you need or want to provide a home for a Dachshund in need, that’s wonderful. And even if you aren’t sure, it doesn’t hurt to look. Chances are, the Dachshund you’ll find in the animal shelter or with a rescue group will make a great pet. Even if you “know” you want a Dachshund puppy from a great breeder, you may consider visiting an animal shelter and/or calling your local Dachshund rescue organization just to see what’s out there. (You can find rescue information on the Dachshund Club of America Web site at www.dachshund-dca.org/rescue.html.)

Remember

Most rescued or shelter Dachshunds are a little older, and there are distinct advantages to adopting an older dog. Older dogs may already be housetrained, they may be used to kids and other pets, and they may even know a trick or two. Many of these dogs are friendly, sweet, and well-behaved, and they need only a loving home to make their lives — and your life — complete. Maybe you can provide one!

The Pros and Cons of Adopting a Dachsie

Before you run out and sign the papers to adopt a rescued or shelter Dachshund, put some serious thought into it. Sure, it’s a wonderful thing to do. However, you don’t want to get into a situation where you’ll regret the adoption or, even worse, have to give the dog back. You should consider the pros and cons of adopting a Dachshund, weighing them against your situation and inclinations before making a commitment. The very last thing a rescued or shelter Dachshund needs is to think he has a new home and then end up back in rescue or in the shelter again. Adopting a dog means being very committed to keeping that dog until the end of his life. Someone has already broken that commitment at least once, which is why the Dachshund is waiting for a home.
Table 5-1 lists some pros and cons involved in adopting a rescued or shelter Dachshund. Look over the list again and again. Listen to your heart and to your head. You may feel awfully sorry for that Dachshund, but if what you really, really want is a puppy from a breeder, everyone will be better off if you follow your heart.
Table 5-1                              The Pros and Cons of an Adopted Dachsie
The Pros
The Cons
He may already be housetrained.
He may have been improperly house trained and older dogs make bigger messes.
He may already be accustomed to family life; he may love kids and understand your routine.
He may never have been socialized and may be frightened of — or even aggressive toward — children or strangers.
He may be eternally devoted to you for taking him in.
He may have suffered so much in the past that he’s not capable of bonding with you.
He may already be trained to obey basic commands.
He may be more difficult to train, and you may need to hire a professional trainer or canine behavioral consultant.
He may come with plenty of good habits already in place.
He may come with plenty of bad habits already in place.
He’ll cost less than a dog from a breeder.
He may not be as well bred as a Dachshund from a breeder, and he may suffer from health, conformation, or temperament problems.
He may turn out to be healthy, well-behaved, and the best pet you could ever dream of!
Your experience with him may be a nightmare of massive vet bills and training traumas — unless you and the rescue group do a thorough job of screening him first (and sometimes even then).
You may be thinking that Table 5-1 leaves a lot up in the air. How can you tell which way a dog will be? Housetrained or not? Wellsocialized or not? Kid lover or not? Healthy or not? Will your Dachsie be a lifelong family companion like the one in Figure 5-1?
Fortunately, rescue organizations and many animal shelters carefully screen the Dachshunds they’re attempting to place, so they usually can tell you what they’ve observed about the Dachshunds’ behavior, temperament, and health status. Take advantage of the people who know and ask a lot of questions. Do what you can to show them that they’ll be placing the dog with someone who won’t bring him right back in a couple of days.

Rescue worker phone etiquette

If you contact a Dachshund rescue organization, please be considerate. These people usually work out of their homes, so find out what time zone an organization is in and don’t call early in the morning or late at night. Many rescue people will have an answering service that allows you to leave your number, but be advised that they’ll call you back collect. Don’t be offended. Remember, these people aren’t getting paid, and if they had to pay for every returned phone call, their phone bills would get pretty hefty. Give them a break and accept all collect calls while you’re trying to acquire a new family member.
Figure 5-1: Will your adopted Dachsie be a kid lover like this one? (Photo courtesy of Gail Painter.)

Adopting through a Rescue Organization

Your best bet to find an available Dachshund for adoption is to contact a local or regional Dachshund rescue organization (see the upcoming sidebar for some tips). These organizations are manned by people who work long hours, usually for no pay, purely for the love of Dachshunds — to find a good home for every Dachshund they believe would make a good pet. The job is stressful and often frustrating. It can also be supremely rewarding, however, when a wayward dog finally finds the perfect place to live.

Remember

Rescue groups aren’t like animal shelters, which have dedicated facilities and a paid staff (see the following section). Most rescue groups consist of one or just a handful of dedicated volunteers who take in abandoned dogs and try to find them homes — often with the help of volunteer foster “parents.”

Adopting through a rescue group is similar to adopting through a shelter. Every group is a little different, but in most cases, you’ll have to fill out a detailed application and answer a lot of personal questions. The rescue workers want to be sure they’re sending off their dogs to committed and quality homes. In many cases, the rescue workers will require a home visit to see where you’ll keep the Dachshund and what your home environment is like. Full of wild little kids? No fence? Other large, aggressive dogs? Or is it a Dachshund heaven?
Adoption usually isn’t a quick process but it should be a thorough one. If a rescue group wants to give you a dog without any questions, you should ask some questions of your own to make sure you and this dog are a good fit and the group has screened the dog for health and behavior problems. Costs vary widely but usually are designed to simply cover the costs the rescue group has incurred to take in, house, heal, and train the dog.
When you hook up with a Dachshund rescue organization, you’re likely to find a fantastic network of Dachshund lovers eager to help you help the displaced Dachshunds of the world. And the cause can be compelling. You may find yourself deciding to be a Dachshund foster home or otherwise involved in Dachshund rescue. There are worse ways to spend your free time!

Tip

You can find rescue coordinators by state through the Dachshund Club of America’s Web site. Check out www.dachshund-ca.org/Rescue.htmlor head to www.petfinder.com, a clearinghouse of shelter and rescue groups that allows you to search by your location and the breed/age/gender you prefer.

Warning!

Some rescued Dachshunds have been abused or neglected and may need some patient, kind, and positive retraining and behavior modification (see the chapters of Part III for advice). If you’re determined not to give up on your rescued Dachshund (and I hope you are), be prepared to exercise supreme patience and exhibit plenty of affection. Also, consider hiring a canine behavioral consultant, an animal behaviorist, and/or a private trainer. A professional has experience with dogs that have been mistreated and can provide you with a variety of personalized approaches to solving your dog’s particular problems. Worth every penny, I say!

Working with Animal Shelters

Even if you don’t have a Dachshund rescue program in or near your town (see the previous section), you probably have an animal shelter. The main difference between adopting from a rescue group and from an animal shelter is that the rescue group often specializes in a particular breed. They may be better at screening for problems, and they may have more time to give. Many animal shelters, however, do an amazing job at screening potential pets, and many even have obedience training programs to help make the animals more adoptable. It all depends on where you live and what’s available to you, but check out both options: rescue groups and animal shelters.

Sometimes, animal shelters shuttle any purebreds off to rescue groups. In other cases, they may have purebred dogs, including Dachshunds, right there in the shelters. Your local shelter may take your name and contact you if a Dachshund comes in. But don’t be surprised or offended if it doesn’t; shelter workers, like rescue workers, often are overworked and underpaid. Your best bet is to visit the shelter often and keep looking. (If nothing else, frequent shelter visits will probably convince you to have your future Dachshund spayed or neutered.)
Some animal shelters are the spectacular culminations of the efforts of many people who are seriously committed to helping place the animals they receive and to educating the public. Others are barely scraping by on tiny budgets and have a hard time handling the load of animals they receive.

Remember

Whatever the case in your area, be aware that adopting a shelter dog often involves a lot of paperwork. You probably can’t just walk into the shelter and get one. Many shelters check out living situations by calling landlords to ensure that they allow dogs, for example. It may seem like a pain, but just remember that all the questions, forms, and red tape are for the protection of the pets. The shelter wants to feel confident that you won’t bring the dog right back in a few weeks or months. 

Stick to the books: No dogs for college kids

If you’re a college student, you may be frustrated to find out that your local animal shelter won’t let you adopt a dog under any circumstances. Is that fair? I mean, you just know you’d be a fantastic dog owner. Actually, although many college students would make great and committed dog owners, students are notorious for abandoning their animals when they graduate. So many shelters have been burdened by huge influxes of pets come graduation time that this policy is in place to safeguard the well-being of the pets. Don’t be offended. Be glad the shelter is working in the overall best interest of its animals. You can always adopt a pet after you’re settled into your post-school life.

A Dachshund for life

Wherever you get your Dachshund, after you get it, it should be yours for life. Dachshunds live a long time — often 12 to 16 years — and you should plan to keep your new friend through thick and thin, for better or for worse, unless it’s absolutely impossible to do so. Dachshunds (and all dogs, for that matter) are living, breathing, sentient beings that form a relationship with their owners, depend on a regular routine, and look to humans for guidance, care, and affection. They feel pain, loss, and neglect if they’re hurt, abandoned, or abused. If you take on the responsibility of a dog, take it on for life. And if you absolutely must give up your dog because of circumstances beyond your control, at least see that it finds a new home where it can receive the proper amount of care and love — and won’t be given up again.
Also, a shelter may not have the time to screen individual dogs for temperament and health. Buyer beware, in other words. You may get a great dog, or you may get a short-legged, long-bodied bundle of trouble. Best to do your research, trust your intuition, and be prepared for a lot of work, rehabilitation, and retraining (see the chapters of Part III). Then, if you get a great pet, you’ll be happily surprised. 
Adopting a shelter dog is a wonderful — even noble — thing to do. So many dogs desperately need good homes, and most of them won’t ever find one. And the dog isn’t the only one who benefits. Many people with shelter dogs are devoted to the point of fanaticism to their rescued pets.

Remember

Adopting a shelter dog is a serious commitment, so please don’t take it lightly. Just because a dog doesn’t cost $500 or $1,000 or more doesn’t mean it isn’t as deserving of love, good medical care, and your time. Be ready for a nervous, scared, confused pet that needs a lot of patience, attention, and consistent and positive training. Work with your new friend, and you may just discover that you have a diamond in the rough.

by Eve Adamson

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