5 Things I Learned After Adopting a Rescue Dog
I was working at my job as the RSPCA press officer when I set eyes on William for the first time. Four-month-old lurcher William had been starved by his previous owners and, not knowing who did it, the inspector who rescued him wanted a press appeal to find the people responsible.
William was so poorly - weighing just 3kg - that vets didn't think he would survive the night. I became so attached to little, skinny William's story that when he became available for adoption, I was the first one there to put in an application.
Two months later, when he'd bounced back from the brink of death and fully recovered, William came home to live with his new brother, West Highland terrier Harry, my husband and I.
Adopting William was the first time I had taken on a rescue dog and I learnt a few things along the way...
1. Like humans, dogs have their own quirks
William had already been around for six-months by the time he came to his new home with us and he had already developed little quirks which I had to get to know. Duvet nearby? He's under it. Once you give him his food - he definitely doesn't want anyone going near him. And when it comes to playing? He absolutely loved it, to the point we realised he was more toy-motivated than food-motivated!
The fact that I didn't have him from an eight-week-old puppy meant that he had already developed his character by the time he joined our family. Which leads me on to...
2. We had to learn to get to know each other
On William's first evening with us, he lay on his bed in the corner of the living room and kept looking at us. He was being quiet, and - if a dog has manners - really polite. We'd had a couple of getting-to-know-you sessions at the branch where we adopted him from but the real learning didn't happen until he moved in with us.
On that first night, he saw us as complete strangers and he was a bit hesitant to go near my husband. But as each day went by we started to get to know each other and, a few weeks later, the first time he sneakily stole my slipper from under my feet I knew he was starting to feel confident in our company!
3. An adopted dog will quickly become your world
I've been told that I talk too much about William, and the fact that I have a laptop bag with his face on it, a William mug and framed photos of him around the house confirms that, yeah - maybe I am a bit obsessed with him.
READ MORE: Help! My dog cannot be Left Alone.
It's now a little in-joke with friends - if I say something about William - they reply: "Oh have you got a dog called William?! We didn't know that!" Ah well!
4. It's not been easy... but every second has been worth it
We learned early on that William had separation anxiety. For the first week, he cried at night when we put him to bed downstairs. Whenever we went out, even for 10 minutes, we'd come home to William having destroyed something or having pooed on the brand new, cream carpet (note to self - don't get a new, cream carpet if you get a non-house-trained puppy).
Sometimes I cried with frustration because I wanted to fix things for him instantly but knew deep down these things would take time. If I said it was easy, I'd be lying. But all those weeks - if not months - of training him and helping him overcome his separation anxiety, knowing that now he's a happy dog, has made every one of those tears worth it.
5. It's been one of the most rewarding things I've done
Today, William has a favourite spot on the sofa - god forbid if you sit there! - and he has his favourite walks on the field behind our house, where he can run off-lead, chasing after a frisbee. Every morning at 11 am, I'll find him lying on the sofa, all four legs in the air, as though he is the most content dog on the planet!
If we sit on the sofa to watch TV in the evening, William will join us and rest his head on our laps, before pawing at the blanket because he wants to get under it! Just seeing him as a completely different dog to when we adopted him is so incredibly rewarding.
His past - being starved and neglected - is well and truly behind him... When he was rescued, he was so poorly from starvation that some would say he had a lucky escape from death - but for us, we feel like the lucky ones to have this loveable, hilarious, cheeky lurcher in our lives.
A guest blog written by Rachel Butler, RSPCA press officer and dog-mum to lurcher, William.