I had just joined the forums as I have a burning question/concern I am hoping more experienced dog owners can assist with... (and I think I also just want to share/talk about this experience a little too because I never have with anyone and I still feel very sad about it.)
My husband and I are planning to adopt a rescue dog this year, something we have been considering for about a year now, but I am really concerned about being able to ask the right questions to make sure we are choosing a suitable dog and hoping folks here can offer some guidance.
My fears lay in my (adult) daughter's rescue / adoption story... she adopted a beautiful GSD girl about 3 years ago. I shared the search process with her over many months until she found the right dog. She was located interstate and in total the costs for her adoption were over $2000 (with flights etc). I paid half of the costs for her at the time because as I felt it was a really special thing for her to be doing (daughter was in the army then and going through a bit of a hard time resettling away from home).
My daughter flew interstate to collect her new girl, and arrived home with her a few days later, very much madly in love already! I was on my way driving to stay with them for a few months when my daughter called me sobbing. D has a freestanding house with six foot wooden fencing and the new girl hadn't been out on walks yet. After a few days settling in D decided she felt ready to take her out for her first walk on the leash and as they exited the door the neighbour's young daughter was just walking home with their little Maltese, the new girl ran and hit the end of her lease pulling D over and escaping. She ran straight to the little girl and small dog and killed the little dog.
It was just so horrifying and traumatic for everyone. The parents of the little girl/little dog owners called around that night and abused D for killing their dog and traumatizing their little girl. D was absolutely devastated at this point! As mentioned I arrived and stayed with them in the following months and took over care of the new girl as D withdraw and just couldn't emotionally deal with the situation (this was her first dog as an adult). I handled all the council interviews during the investigation. I never imagined being responsible for owning a dog that killed another and traumatized a family. We are just not those people.
The GSD girl was just the most beautiful loving dog (inside) the home. In the next month I really fell in love with her too and felt so sad for all she must have been through. She was obviously never socialised and had not had an easy start in life. I lived on cattle stations for decades where I trained working dogs (collies, kelpies) and I took the new girl for a couple of walks (very late in the evening) to try to gauge what was going on with her. She was extremely fearful and display frenzied dog aggression in 100% of cases seeing or hearing another dog.
The council ruled she did not have to be PTS as this was a first offence, but my daughter was terrified to walk her outside of the home at all. I offered to stay longer and help her to keep working with her/rehabilitating her. D decided she was just too dangerous and made the difficult choice to PTS.
I don't know if I am portraying very well just how devastated our family was through-out this whole experience. Devastated for our neighbours and their little dog, devastated for D and the trauma she experienced (3 years on she is still not comfortable around dogs), devastated for the beautiful GSD girl who didn't get to have a happy life with a loving family. When we spoke to the rescue group when the attacked first happened they denied any knowledge of her aggression issues.. but my daughter explained later that she was being kept in a boarding kennel in a separated far rear kennel when she collected her and she was told she had been there for many months as a foster carer couldn't be found for her.
Anything like this would obviously be a great big warning flag for us this time around, but are there any small/easy tests or assessments we should try to carry out when we meet potential dogs that will helps us to see any serious underlying issues...? How do we check out if a rescue group/person is responsible/experienced/reputable?
Thanks so much in advance for any advice.