Becoming a FUR-Parent and FUR-Adoption

Once you have made the decision that you can commit to the lifelong care, love and welfare of a furbaby then you are ready to become a fur-parent and need to decide whether to SHOP (from a breeder or pet store) or ADOPT (from a shelter).

 

I am strongly of the view that whenever possible you should adopt, but not from a shop!

 

WHY? Because there are hundreds upon hundreds of dogs in shelters and living on the streets whose precious lives depend on the kindness of your heart and the outcome of your decision.  Yes, it is your choice to leave an animal behind bars in a shelter instead of continuing the cycle of breeding for sale.

 

If you really think you must buy your furbaby from a breeder or a pet store rather than adopting from a shelter, then please take every possible precaution to ensure the following:

  • Whether you are dealing with a breeder directly or indirectly (i.e. as the supplier to the pet store), you are familiar with the details of the breeder and are sure that it is reputable, keeps the animals in good conditions (not in tiny cages forced to breed over and over again purely for the breeder’s financial gain), well fed and in good health;
  • That the pet store (if applicable) is reputable and keeps the animals in good conditions, well fed and in good health;
  • That the seller is licensed as required in the UAE. If not, please report them to the police;
  • That the furbaby you want to buy is in excellent health, has had all necessary treatments and does not have any pre-existing conditions. In this respect, please note that certain breeds of dog have genetic pre-dispositions to certain conditions and you should carefully consider this before selecting your fur-baby, particularly where it is a so-called “pure-breed”.  I have heard some horrific experiences of people buying dogs here.  Some have been sick and some have died not long after making it home.  You may end up spending countless dollars on trying to treat your new pup while at the same time causing distress for both the animal and your own family.   Note also the risk that sellers who are not operating ethically may also refer you to a particular vet who will support his approach to business and you could end up being blamed for a pre-existing illness so they can avoid any blame.
  • You have followed the familiarisation and settling-in processes described under the Adoption section to the extent possible (though many of these great processes will be difficult to undertake where you buy rather than adopt).

Adopt Don’t Shop!

Fur-Adoption

Back in November 2016 we decided to adopt a fur-child.  We already had 2 little Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (twin 8.5 year olds) in the family but after reading all of the heart-breaking stories about the dumped and let down dogs we decided we had enough room in our home and hearts for another one.

 

It was a bit like dog dating 😊 We read the story about Jasmine and knew she was the one.  She had been the longest resident at SCADs (over 2 years!) and a beautiful soul called Candeta had to get her out so she had been with a foster mum for a week when we went to meet her.  We took our 2 pups out to meet her and make sure they were ok and then brought her home to hang out and test the waters.  Whilst she had a lot more energy than our 2 they got along fine and she became part of the family (the 2 weeks was never a trial in my mind 😉).  I have no idea how people were able to resist this face for so long!

Introducing a new puppy to your life

Following are some tips that I have picked up from raising Manfred and Ruby (my 2 Cavaliers), introducing Jasmine in 2016 (our rescue girl) to the pack and then fostering a number of dogs and pups.

 

There is so much information available online on all of these topics (and many more), so please do your research and find the plan that works for you.  The key is to have a plan and to be consistent – dogs love routine.

 

Also remember that your rescue group (if applicable) and vet will be able to help with many questions and you can also enlist the help of a dog trainer.

  • The rescue group will usually cover the initial vaccinations and the spay/neutering of your pup. Make sure you are clear on what is covered and what is yet to be done as part of the adoption process and keep a diary note of upcoming treatments.
  • Vets sometimes offer puppy training courses, which is a great way to socialise your puppy, get lots of tips and health information and learn some training basics.
  • Trainers aren’t just for dogs with behavioural problems, you can use a trainer early on to help prepare you and your pup and get you into good habits with things like walking and boundaries.

 

The Fur-Directory contains plenty of vets and trainers (plus much more) that you can consider.

 

Where possible, ask them (the foster family or rescue group) to complete the ‘Foster Handover Checklist’ form in the Downloads section, this will outline his food, routines, behaviours etc so you understand a bit more about your new addition before he even arrives and can prepare a smoother transition.

 

Also have a look at the Resource Centre for some useful checklists (in the Downloads section) on new pet set up costs and a shopping list.  You can download these, add and change whatever you want so you have a tailored list for your pup.

 

Please please please remember – your puppy has come from a different place (and potentially multiple different places) and may have had a hard start to life (many pups in the UAE have are born on construction sites and some have been abused by people). 

 

Like with humans, they need time to adapt to their new home and their new family (think back to when you relocated to Dubai – you needed time to get to know your new surroundings).

 

The pup may have just been separated from their mum and siblings so will need a few days to adjust.  If they have been abused then they will need time to trust again.

 

But they will adjust and they will trust again!  That is the beautiful thing about pups and dogs – they are trusting, loyal pets.  If you just take the time, be patient and give the pup a good routine, lots of love and attention then you will have an adjusted furbaby in weeks.

 

The key for a puppy is routine.  So, think about where you will place everything and set it up before the puppy arrives.

 

Think about:

  • Where will you feed the pup?
  • Where will he sleep?
  • Where will he go to the toilet?
  • Are there areas he can’t go? For example, upstairs, you might want to install a puppy gate to restrict access to areas he shouldn’t be going to.

 

  • Introducing the pup to existing furbabies

If you have other dogs in the family then ensure you introduce them on neutral ground, and after they’ve eaten so they will be a calm mood.  Let them sniff each other and walk for a few minutes together before taking them back to the house.  Try not to pull back on their leads as they will sense your nervousness, give them a chance to get to know each other slowly first.  If your existing dogs are very territorial or aggressive towards other dogs then please seek some additional support with this introduction (either research or using a trainer).

 

  • Food and feeding routine

Food – try to use the same food that the pup has been eating at the place they were before he came to you.  This will avoid immediate tummy upsets.  If you are going to change their food then do this gradually.  Also do your research on the types of food available.  Please don’t just buy the cheapest food, as this won’t be good for your dog.  Follow the feeding instructions on the packet (or speak with your vet if there are special dietary requirements).

 

Also ensure there is always fresh drinking water available.

 

Feeding – Try to use the same location for feeding each time.  If you have other dogs in the house then it is best to feed them in different locations, so they don’t get territorial over their bowls.  This goes the same for bones, feed them separately to avoid fights.

 

Just before putting the bowl down, tell your pup to sit until you give him the command.  Once the bowl is down and you are ready say ‘off you go’ (the command) and he can then eat his meal.

 

Sick belly/runny poo – if he has runny poo (and has already been tested for parvo, giardia etc) then it might be the change of diet or he may have picked something up that he shouldn’t have while out walking or in the garden.

 

In this case:

  • Cook up some chicken and rice for his next few meals.
  • Also add a teaspoon of cooked pumpkin into his dinner for a few meals. I keep a can in my pantry just in case.

 

This should help settle his belly and get him back to normal.  If it persists then you should take him to the vet for a check-up.

 

  • Toilet training

Pups need to go to the toilet quite frequently when young so you may need a wee pad inside until they get used to going outside (or if they don’t have access to a garden, then perhaps the balcony).  Keep the pee pad in the same place to start with then gradually move it towards the outside area until he is in the routine of going outside.

 

Take him outside to pee first thing in the morning and be sure to praise him when he does it in the right spot.  Also take him out there before going to bed.  If he starts peeing in the wrong space then pick him up and take him to the right space and praise him there.

 

As he is peeing repeat the word ‘toilet’ so he comes to associate the word with the action.  Then later you will be able to take him out and mention the word to him so he understands that is the place to pee (which will help if you move house or holiday somewhere with him).

 

Routine with this is really important so think about where you want him to pee before he arrives.  If you keep changing the location from room to room he will get confused and will have more accidents. And be patient, there will be some accidents but he will learn!

 

  • Sleeping and crate training

The pup’s bed/crate should be a safe and happy place, not somewhere he goes to be punished.  If you are going to use a crate then encourage him in there with treats and praise, let him know this is a safe space for him.  He can then use this crate for sleeping and for when you need him to be popped away for any other reason.  There is plenty of help for this training online so please do some research to find out what will work best for your pup and your family.

 

For the first few nights/weeks he might cry out or bark.  When we are fostering we try to have some awake time/play time before he goes to bed, then take him to the garden for a wee.  You can even take him for a little walk before bed time so he is a bit more tired. Once he has settled he then goes to bed.  If you get up and take him out of his crate/room every time he barks or cries then he knows this will work.  Be strong and give him time to adjust to the new sleeping routine.

 

  • Walks

All dogs need regular walks.  This is their time to get exercise and to sniff out the action of the neighbourhood (or as someone once said to me, it is their chance to read the daily newspaper).

 

We walk our dogs every morning and night and this is almost the best part of their day (or perhaps it is tied with meal time).  If we have a foster dog then they also join these walks and it gives the foster dog a good opportunity to learn what dogs do 😊

 

If you are having issues with the dog’s behaviour on the walk then do a bit of research and perhaps enlist the help of a trainer (correcting behaviour early on saves a lot of effort down the road).

 

  • Play time

Pups and adult dogs love play time!  And it is fun for the rest of the family too.  Just remember that puppies don’t understand the strength of their little jaws and aren’t aware of how their pointy little teeth can hurt you.

 

Make sure you have plenty of chew toys for your new pup.

 

Pups use their teeth a lot during play so make sure you have lots of chew toys to use during play and encourage those instead of your fingers or hand.  To stop him from biting you make a high-pitched sound when he bites and turn away or put a chew toy in his mouth instead.   If you simply push him away he will think this is part of a game and will continue what he was doing.

 

The pup will nap regularly and then will probably wake up with lots of energy and want to play (his crazy time) so have toys in his space (and rotate them so he has new toys to play with every few days).

 

Pups love playing with their humans, especially games like rope tug.  Playing will help keep the pup busy/entertained, will help them to learn boundaries and will give you laughter and joy!

 

  • Protecting your house from those puppy teeth

When I first got Manfred and Ruby (my cavalier twins) they were a menace!  I hadn’t had experience with pups before and boy did I learn the hard way.  I would come home to sections of carpet missing, because they found a thread and created a game out of pulling it together!

 

If you are leaving your pup at home alone while you work then consider keeping them in their own space which is free of cords and stuff they can chew and ruin.  I wouldn’t leave a puppy at home all day alone as they will need socialisation of some sort, and of course the chance to go out to the toilet.  If puppies/dogs are bored they will chew things, so keeping them busy, active and able to access chew toys is important.

 

When they are out and about in the rest of the house then they will find new and exciting things to chew, such as your TV and computer cords or even your dining chair legs.  Make sure you move all cords away where possible or protect them with covers.  One tip I learned was to put masking tape around the base of things that they could get to and put a few drops of tobasco sauce on it.  The pup may take a sniff, and even a lick, but that will be their first and last attempt.

 

Other suggestions out there include mixing some white vinegar with water and spraying that on the teeth targets.  This can get a bit messy (and smelly if dealing with carpet and wood).  This option didn’t actually work for our previous foster, he kept licking it up the little monkey.

 

Again, research the options and find out what works for your pup.  In the meantime, puppy proof your house as much as possible (without creating a prison atmosphere of course).  As they get older and trained you will not need to worry about them chewing your belongings.

 

Final thoughts…

 

There are probably many other things to consider but I think these are some of the key things.  Like with anything, a bit of planning and preparation will go a long way to settling your little furry bundle of joy into the home.  Also be mindful of where your pup is when people are coming and going from your house as he may run out an open door.

 

The most important thing to do then is relax and enjoy this beautiful experience.  Having a pet is a joy but it is also a privilege and one that should be treated as such.

 

Happy furbaby parenting!

 

This section is also provided in the Resource Centre as a Download.

Your obligations and commitments

Most of the dogs in the shelters or with foster families have probably had a pretty terrible start to their life so if you are considering adopting here then it must be done with the intention of supporting this baby for the rest of its life.  No doubt it has already been let down by humans so many times.

 

Just like humans, animals can come with their own baggage.  They may have lived rough on the streets, been lonely, abused or even lost their own litters of babies.  Despite their history they are still willing to trust us yet again, but they may just need some time to adjust to their new home, new routine and time to trust that their new family is going to stick around this time.  Some can come with some anxiety and behaviours that will just take time to adjust or correct.  But with love, care, training and persistence – it will all pay off.

 

Also think about how much experience you have with pets (if any at all) and how much time and energy you have to devote to a pet as well as any allergies you or family members may have.  All pets have different temperaments, energy levels and coats.

 

Refer to the ‘Responsible Fur-Parenting’ page for general information on caring for animals in the UAE.

Benefits of adopting

Adopting a new furbaby is an incredibly rewarding experience for you and your family.  Every animal has a different personality, they have a soul and they are full of love and loyalty.  I could write a thesis on this but those of you who are already proud fur parents will know this already.

 

And to know that you have rescued this beautiful soul from the street or an overcrowded shelter is the best gift you can give this animal and yourself.  Just remember that for every animal rescued from a shelter, it means one less animal on the street as you have made space for another rescue baby.

The process

Each shelter or rescue organisation may have slightly different processes so it is important to ask as many questions as you can so you are clear on what to expect.

 

As a guide, you may experience the following:

 
  1. To go to the shelter and meet and greet (or sniff and meet) the rescues living there.  

    Take some time, say hi to the furbags and get a sense of their personalities.  Ask some questions of the great staff there as they get to know these guys pretty well, they can tell you about their age, demeanour and behaviours.  If you are looking for a quiet and lazy dog or an active dog you can run with then let them know so they can introduce you to them.  If you take the time you will find the right little mate who will fit right into your lifestyle.

  1. To complete an adoption form.  

    This gives them some of the basic information about the prospective adoptive parents and also helps the rescue organisations to have a record of who went where. Refer to the Resource Centre for a sample adoption application form to get an idea of the kind of information requested.

  1. To have a trial adoption period.  

    The rescue organisation will most likely suggest a trial adoption (around 2 weeks) to make sure the pet fits into your own lifestyle.  This is when you need to have as much patience and perseverance as possible, remember our comments above – some of these babies have had horrific backgrounds and experiences and may need to learn to love and trust all over again.  If they are anxious they may accidentally pee in the house or bark at new faces coming to visit.  Please give them time to settle in and adjust to your routine (whilst you adjust to their routine too!). At some point during this period someone from the rescue organisation may come out to visit you and check out the environment and how the animal is settling in.

  1. Confirming the adoption.  

    At the end of the trial if everything has gone well the adoption will be confirmed and the rescue organisation will hand over the vaccination records and any other relevant information or paperwork.

Costs

Costs will differ but regardless it is safe to say the amount will be minimal and definitely won’t have covered the myriad expenses already spent to get your new furbaby to its healthy state that you have met him/her in. It would have most likely been rescued in a messy and possibly sick state, so there would be costs to remove fleas and ticks, vet check-ups and, depending on the age of the animal, there would have been neutering fees.

 

I was asked to pay AED400, which was the fee Candeta paid to SCAD’s to rescue her. Some organisations may ask for a bit more so expect anything up to about AED2,000 depending on the breed and the medical costs incurred so far.

 

I have also seen posts of people having been charged AED6,000 for ‘adoption fees’! The general consensus is that these are breeders trying to dress the sale up as a rescue adoption fee. Please do your research before and if you are unsure, contact a rescue group to ask a few questions.

Introducing your new pet to your existing fur-family

When we went to collect Jasmine for the ‘trial adoption’ we met her foster mum and Jasmine in a park area and just continued on a walk together so all 3 dogs could just casually sniff each other and walk along without any big fuss.  Manfred and Ruby are extremely easy-going dogs and the introduction went really calmly.

 

This may not always be the case so being prepared will help the introduction to be more successful.  Make sure you take it slowly and gradually and have the first introduction on neutral ground, like we did with Jasmine.

 

The key points to consider are:

  • Arrange a brief introduction on neutral ground out in the open such as in a park.
  • Let them get to know each other slowly, let them sniff each other and make sure you keep the leash on both animals.
  • After your neutral territory meet up you can then have them meet in the yard of the home, again taking it slowly.
  • Until the dogs are settled whilst you are away from the house you should consider keeping them in separate rooms (or crates) to avoid fights and injuries.
  • Reward any good behaviour with praise and treats.
  • Be patient as the first introduction may not go as hoped.

There are many resources online so do some research and prepare yourself based on your own unique situation.  Refer to the Resources page for a few useful links.