Two years ago we adopted Peru from the Anne Arundel SPCA. It was the first time Fred & I had adopted a pet together. The first time we went, we looked at a different dog. A beautiful white bulldog mix. We took the dog outside to spend some time with him. Unfortunately, while we were out there, he saw another dog doing some training across the way, and kind of went a bit nutty. Very aggressive. We were so bummed.
We went back inside and as we went around the corner just to take a gander at the rest of the dogs, even though we "knew" we'd seen them all. Then there she was, Peru. A beautiful brindle American Bulldog sitting right against her fence. She looked so pitiful. Just begging us with her face to take her out of there. We of course took her out of the kennel, played with her, and applied for her! We've had her for two years now!
The weekend before Thanksgiving we were hoping to grow our four legged family by 1 more dog. Unfortunately the meet and greet didn't go so well, so I suggested on our way home to swing by the SPCA again to see if there were any new puppies. I hadn't seen any on the website. I'm thinking Peru is going to need to be with a puppy that's a male. American Bulldogs aren't always great when being introduced to other dogs. She was also attacked at a dog park and that has made her extremely aggressive/defensive so having her around larger dogs is impossible.
We got there and as I mentioned in my Wordless Wednesday post, K and Fred went back to look at the dogs while I looked at cats. I found a handsome black cat named Batman. He was a playful cat, and I was ready to take him home with me. Thankfully we were able to bring him home on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.
He's been a fun addition to the family. He's settled in very well. He's met Peru, and isn't impressed. Peru on the other hand wants to get to know him better. Batman turns tail and runs to the highest spot he can find. They're getting closer and closer to getting along though. It'll only be a little time before they're hanging out, playing around.
I had a blogging friend ask me the other day about adopting a pitbull. They were going to go take a look at her, and she wanted to get my thoughts on adopting. Now, clearly I'm NOT an expert. I have an American Bulldog, and I'm still trying to figure her out. lol I asked her what she wanted to know, and she said, "everything". HA!
Well, first, we all know that most dogs with bad reputations have them because of the people who own them. The breed itself is given a sweepingly bad name. Every dog is different. Many people see Peru and assume she's a pitbull. They're actually becoming recognized as two different breeds.
Based on our experience, this is what I told her:
When we met Peru, I pet her and as I pet her head, I "tugged" on her ears. I have kids and I know that they're going to end up doing that. As she was running around us, I grabbed her tail and gave it a tug. Not sure how I explain, but I wasn't doing it hard or rough or mean. It was just enough that she knew I had hold of her tail. Let's just say she didn't care at all.
Find out if the dog has food aggression. This is important no matter what. If you go to feed your new dog and that dog tries to bite you to protect the food, that's NOT a good thing. Be sure to ask the pound to see if they've checked that. If you have any concerns, ask them to do a demonstration for you.
How do they react around other dogs? The first dog we were going to adopt went nuts when she saw other dogs in the training area. Peru completely ignored them. If you have other dogs or cats, you need to know how they'll react. There's no guarantee what will happen once you get the adopted dog home and introduce them to each other. Peru doesn't realize how big and powerful she is. She's stepped on our old man, Simba cat, and really squishes him. She doesn't realize she's doing it, but if you have smaller dogs, just know that these types of dogs don't always know they're not Chihuahuas.
If you have little kids, maybe have them outside the fenced in area and have them run around next to it. See how the dog reacts. Do they charge the fence? If the kids are squealing, does the dog show anxiety? What kind of interest does the dog show? Too much interest isn't always a good thing. When two people in our home wrestle, Peru is RIGHT THERE. She doesn't really like it when we all play. She starts wrestling with us, but you can tell there's either some anxiety about it or protectiveness. Maybe a bit of both.
What happens if you move too quickly near the dog? Is the dog hand shy? If they're dealing with some fear issues, you need to know how to handle that and help the dog work through those fears. Being hand shy doesn't always mean a dog has been abused. There are some dogs who have a variety of fears. It's just something good to know going in.
Have they taken the dog for walks to see how it does on the leash? That's definitely something you can work on at home. It's just a great thing to know about how your pet will do when you go for a walk.
Looking at getting a cat? How do they take to being held? Now if you know cats, they're not always fond of being held. If you want a cat that likes to be cuddled, you need to take your time with each one. One of the things that I want in a cat is one who doesn't mind being cuddly. So far, all of my cats have loved having their bellies rubbed.
I also do the "squishy face" test. lol I hold their head gently in both hands and massage their face. Batman loved it! He just sat there letting me massage him. I didn't do it long because he didn't know me, but you could just tell he was going to be chill.
Find out how they are with other cats. If they're not good with other cats, and you have one or more at home, you should really consider not getting that cat. There's no guarantee they'll change once you get them home. A cat who likes to play is great for a family! Just make sure you bring home a bunch of toys. At our local SPCA, everything they have is $1/ea! Isn't that spectacular! We went home with a ton of stuff for Batman.
Ask to see their medical records since arriving at the pound. After we got Batman home, he started having skin issues around his eyes, his right whisker cluster, and under his chin. He also had something wrong with his ears. Had we asked to see the records, we'd have seen they'd tried treating him for his skin issues. Not that we would've known exactly what was going on, but we would've seen all of the medication they'd given him. When we first laid eyes on him, we had no idea. He looked a lot worse within a week of getting him home.
Take the 30 days of free medical coverage if it's offered. Had we done that, it probably would've helped with Batman's new vet bill. Sadly, I didn't want to add my credit card and declined getting it. UGH! I could've cancelled after the 30 days.
We extended the microchipping on Peru for life. THAT was a great choice for two reasons. The first is that Peru liked to run off before we had a fence. There was always a chance she'd get lost. Goofy dog. Thankfully we've got a fence, but even still, anything could happen with her, and being that she's a bully and doesn't listen very well, especially when she tastes freedom, this is a safety precaution. We paid for a lifetime coverage for the microchip which turned out to be a LOT less expensive than renewing it yearly. Again, completely worth it.
Remember this is a transition for your new pet, any pets you currently have, and your family. After everyone becomes acclimated things will (hopefully) start to settle down. There's no guarantee with anything in life. You're saving an animal's life, and bringing exciting new experiences to your life!
Now go enjoy your new buddy!