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What To Expect When Adopting A Shelter Pet

Learn about the changes and adjustments your adoptive dog is going through at a new home.

What To Expect When Adopting A Shelter Pet

The following is an excerpt from a diary of a dog adopted from a local shelter.  Although details from his story have been changed to protect his anonymity, he wanted his recorded thoughts shared to help new pet owners understand what dogs go through in the first few months of moving to a new home with a new family.  We are happy to report that Marty, a three-year-old mixed breed dog, has now been living with his adoptive family for two years and is happier than ever with his new life.  Please keep the following in mind when allowing a new adoptive dog time to get comfortable to his or her new home environment. 

Day 1:

Dear Diary,

A whole lot has changed today and quite frankly, I'm not sure if it is for the better.  On the plus side, at least I'm not stuck in that loud and scary shelter any more.  I had a nice man come to see me at my crate and then take me to this new home.  But, I have to admit this all seems so foreign to me.  It isn't anything like my old home, which is getting harder and harder to remember anymore.  Plus, there are so many new sights, sounds, and smells in this new house that scare me.  I wish I just had something familiar that I could be comfortable with.  The nice man did give me this wonderful bed and a few toys which was a nice gesture.  I need time to get comfortable.  I hope he isn't offended that I don't want to play just yet?

Day 2: 

Dear Diary,

I ventured out into the house from behind the bed today.  I was shy and skittish at first because I'm so confused about everything that has happened over the past 24 hours.  I don't know if I'm quite ready to eat or drink yet, but I'm sure eventually I will.  This man keeps calling me Marty; who is this dog? I don't think that's my name?  But then again, I don't remember what my old name was.  Maybe this is a chance for me to build a new life and start out fresh with a nice and kind human?  There are so many uncertainties lately, I wish something would just start to make sense.

Day 3:

Dear Diary,

Today was a big day for me!  I'm starting to wander around this house a bit more and the new sounds aren't scaring me as much. I know exactly where my food and water bowl are (I'm starting to get my appetite back!), I know where to find the best windows to watch the yard, and I even picked up a few of my toys to test them out. I feel a little bit more like myself.  Although, I did have a small accident on the carpet today. (I haven't had an accident since I was a puppy!)  It's just very different from the shelter where I could go to the bathroom in my pen and nothing bad happened.  My new human didn't seem angry at all, which is good.  I'm so glad he is understanding and patient.  I'll try to do better tomorrow.  

Day 10:

Dear Diary,

You know, I don't want to get too hopeful, but I think that this new home could work out!  This is way better than living in the shelter and my new human is so wonderful.  I  love all my toys and comfy bed, and I get the best food and treats.  We even started to go to some training classes where I'm told over and over how good I am!  I overheard my human say that he wanted to get me into some training classes so that I can learn some manners.  There is the potential for me to "test my boundaries"  (whatever that means!) and he wants to make sure I have a good training foundation.  All I know is that I get to see some of my dog friends and get lots of rewards and attention.

Day 20:

Dear Diary,

Today may have been my best day yet.  I had the chance to run around and play with my human and just be silly.  Today was the first day that I really felt like I got to be myself and let my dog personality show.  I think my human really liked that too because he couldn't stop laughing.  I'm so happy that this is going to be my forever family.  We have a good thing going, and I'm learning our new routine. I know when my human gets up, when I have my daily walk, when I get my dinner, and when we get to have playtime.  This is a routine that I can get used to!

Day 65:

Dear Diary,

I can now confidently say that this is going to be my home forever, and I couldn't be happier.  I have my routine down and I just know that I am accepted and loved in this house.  I would do anything for my human, and I hope he knows how bonded I am with him.  I know my love for him is only going to grow more the longer we are together.  This is so much better than my time at the shelter, and I'm glad that my human was so kind and patient with me.  You see, it takes time to be able to adjust to these new surroundings and really let my dog personality show.  Do you remember the first few days when I was even scared to come out from behind the bed? What a long way I've come in such a short amount of time.  I know the longer I am here, the better things will be, and I am just growing in confidence each and every day.  I don't know how I'll ever repay my human for bringing me to my new home, but I'll give him my attention and love for the rest of my life. 

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