Emerging from Rescue Dog to Family Dog

Pierson Rolling in the Grass

Happy Rescued Boy, PIerson.

This post is appropriate for spring as it is an article about growth. It is a story about the development of a rescue dog into a loved and cherished family dog.

I’ve been in contact with a new friend lately about her new rescue dog. And her story made me think about when I first got Pierson. He was so shy and nervous back then. I assumed I would have a calm and quiet dog on my hands. But then over the course of a few weeks, Pierson came out of his shell. He is a different dog today than he was back then. Here are his experiences and some things you can expect when you rescue a dog.

Shy to Outgoing
Pierson is still shy around strangers, but even that shyness is relatively mild compared to the shyness he expressed when he first came home. After spending time socializing him, he now allows most people to pet him. I don’t think he will ever be outgoing because of his breed tendencies. But it may be different with other rescued dogs. You might start out with a very shy dog and end up with one that absolutely loves to meet new people.

Unsure to Confident
When Pierson first came home, his walk was slow and deliberate. His tail was held low and his eyes were constantly on the lookout for a way to escape in case things went wrong. Today, he prances around with his tail held high. He knows this is his home and we are his family and he is completely at ease. When we go out, he is still confident because he knows I will take care of him.

Quiet to Loud
This may not be the case with all dogs, but it is definitely the case with Pierson. It was a couple weeks before I heard him bark. Now, not only does he bark (at every little thing), but he howls with excitement too. You should see him in the morning at feeding time. He wags his tail so hard that his cute little fluffy butt wiggles, he spins around in circles, and then he promptly sits and howls. It is the cutest thing!

Calm to Playful
I remember trying to play with Pierson after only having him for a couple of days. He didn’t understand that it was a game and still wasn’t too sure about me. The first time he ever played, it was with Maya. After a couple of weeks, he started to play with me too. I imagine my laughter when I tried to play with him scared him at first. Now he associates laughter with good things and we play and laugh all the time.

I use laughter now as a way to put him at ease. When Pierson heard a loud noise while we were out the other day, he got really scared. I purposely laughed at him playfully because the loud noise was nothing to be frightened of. He immediately calmed down.

Behavior Issues
Pierson developed a few behavior issues as he got more comfortable. When he first came here, he was too nervous to come out of his corner to do naughty things. But as Pierson got more comfortable going about the house, he started chewing on things, putting his paws on the counter, and digging holes in the yard. Expect some of these same things to happen when you rescue a dog. Remember, they don’t know what is right and wrong yet. As they come out of their shell, they will be investigating their new surroundings more often and may sometimes do things you don’t want them to do.

Pierson's Rescue on Facebook

Pierson’s rescue documented on my Facebook Timeline in January 2012. (Sorry it’s blurry. I don’t know how to make it sharp like the larger image file is.)

Watching Pierson slowly come out of his shell has been a wonderful and rewarding experience. I love Pierson so much and am very proud of the dog he has become. A rescue dog requires time, patience, and training, but that dog is worth every effort. Pierson’s rescue story sort of reminds me of The Ugly Duckling story. Has your dog emerged from an ugly duckling into a swan?



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18 Responses to “Emerging from Rescue Dog to Family Dog”

  1. Long Life Cats and Dogs Says:

    So incredibly rewarding, watching the changes. I’m sure all of us who have adopted the troubled dogs understand almost everything you are saying about Pierson. I had many of the same things with Litchi. I just love seeing them gain confidence and becoming happy and loving dogs.

  2. Gizmo Says:

    You’re so right, it takes time…My poor Cecil took two years to stop hiding behind my knees, but when she did, wow….She grew into a beautiful, funny, confident GSD that added so much to my life and all those who knew her

  3. Lindsay Says:

    Way to go Pierson! What a great post! I thought it was interesting how you said you laughed in order to let him know he didn’t have to be scared. I wonder if that would work with my dog. And very cute how he sits and howls for his food. Good boy, Pierson! I think you’ve hit the jackpot!

  4. 2browndawgs Says:

    Great story with a happy ending!

  5. dogleadermysteries Says:

    Reblogged this on Dog Leader Mysteries and commented:
    Happy Monday! A sweet dog adoption story, which tells the truth about how dogs grow, old dogs can always adapt to new homes. We need to know this, what dog adopters know. Our dogs will take a page from us. New dog adopters live calm and show limits, play and fun to be rewarded with tons of open joy from their new pets. Check this blog post out. You will be glad you did.

  6. FleaByte Says:

    I remember thinking, the first month we had Flash and Patches, that they were going to be the greatest dogs ever! They didn’t bark!


    My mom’s rescue, Honey, has only in the last few months (she’s had Honey a year) begun digging in the backyard. She doesn’t dig holes like Aussies do, just because of boredom. She hides her bones and stuffies in holes, then digs them up later. Reminds me a little of that kids’ book, The Diggingest Dog.

    • ILoveDogs Says:

      I think the digging has something to do with the weather. My dogs generally only do it in the spring or summer. Part of it is because the wild animals come out more so they dig to try to get at them. The other part is because digging in mud is really really fun!

  7. Roxy the traveling dog Says:

    What a great story!! And I think he’s cute.

  8. snoopys@snoopysdogblog Says:

    So cool to read how Pierson has come such a long way and is now so comfortable and relaxed with you in his forever home!!

    Way to go all of you,

    Your pal Snoopy πŸ™‚

  9. Joanne Says:

    Well done Dawn, it’s all been down to your patience and understanding that Pierson’s life has changed for the better and he is now a Happy Dog able to give back the love to you and family.

  10. Deana Says:

    As someone who is considering adopting a four legged companion soon, this really helped me. πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, it’s so lovely to see the evolution from dog without a home to member of the family for your Pierson (who’s cute little fluffy butt wiggles sound adorable πŸ˜‰ ). It’s wonderful that you could give him a home where he feels safe, loved, and happy. I hope you continue to have many more enjoyable years to come.

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