Our primary goal as a rescue shelter is to find lifelong loving homes for the homeless companion animals we care for each year. People have the best intentions when they adopt a dog. They truly do believe that it will all go well. And usually, it does. But bringing a dog home can be a challenge making you wonder if you thought the whole process through.

It takes time to adjust to a new living situation and sometimes shelter animals require a bit more time, so when adopting, we would ask that you try and put yourself in their paws.

Imagine that you’re an animal just living your life, whether it is with a family or as a stray. You probably have a routine, either set by your doggy parents or it might be a survival of the fittest routine.

Suddenly, everything is different. Maybe you ran away and before you smelled your way back home someone in a uniform swooped in and put you in a cage in the back of a truck. Did your owner die? Could they no longer afford to care for you?

There are many reasons why a dog ends up in a shelter but no matter the reason it’s likely a confusing time. And then, if a dog is very lucky, things change again and they go through being poked and prodded and given shots and surgery, and then they are back in a new cage on a truck being sent to a new state.

We don’t usually know the history of our dogs except that they each and every one of them deserves a second chance and a happy life. Let’s go back to how your future dog must feel before they finally choose their person.

After the long ride from Kentucky your dog lands in yet another scary place. It’s noisy, it has different smells, loud noises, he’s inside most of the time and everything is new. It might be scary but dogs are resilient and soon this becomes their new normal. Your future pooch settles into his new routine pretty quickly because the shelter staff and volunteers are nice, his belly is full of scheduled food, he sleeps out of the elements, and he gets cuddles and walks, and he learns to play with the other dogs there. Not a bad life!

Then things change again. Just when he’s gotten settled in taken out of this place by some very nice people and taken to a new place. What’s going to happen here? There may be other animals that he has to share space with. Are those other animals going to take their food? Now they have to learn to walk on a leash, to sleep in different places, and eat different food. Where they were recently never alone all of a sudden alone is the norm for eight or ten hours a day! How do they tell you they need to go potty? Can they sit on the furniture or not? The questions are endless for any dog, but for a rescue dog, it can be even more challenging.

Change is scary. Think about the changes that happen in your life. The feeling of being in an unfamiliar place, new people, new rules, new home, a change in diet. Now think about it if all happened in the same day. How would you feel?

We want every adoption to be the start of a lifelong relationship; nothing brings us more joy than getting and posting PAWSitive Ending stories and pictures. But those stories only happen after hard work and time.

Let’s go back to my beautiful baby was born after difficulty conceiving. From the moment he came home it was perfect. Okay, so it wasn’t. The crying, the no sleep, the runny poop explosion, and the projectile vomiting, learning to walk and talk, and toilet training. The list is long, far longer than the list I had to figure out for my dog. Then came the stubborn defiance, yes, he is an attorney now, school, and then, finally, letting him go so he could become the man he is today.

Most shelter pets need time and patience to fit into a new home. Trust me, it’s nowhere near as hard as it was with my two-legged children. In our adoption packets, we include tons of information you will need. Please read it because it will make your life and your dog’s life much, much easier.

We welcome phone calls and messages. There aren’t any stupid questions when it’s your first time around. I’ll never forget the time that Gary dropped a seriously large hung of habanero cheese on the floor and Coconut at the entire piece. I called Jim and asked should I rush him to the vet. Not that I had the money for the twenty-four-hour emergency vet. Dogs never eat anything unsafe during normal business hours. Jim shrugged it off and said that coming out might burn but it wasn’t a big deal. You know what? It wasn’t.

Crate training, leash walking, resource guarding, worms, kennel cough, overdosing on the neighbor’s bird seed, potty training, seasonal allergies, and kinds of food and bones to buy are all things I asked about or researched on my own. You do not have to go it alone.

There is something called the 3-3-3 Rule.

In the first three days, your new pet may be overwhelmed with his new surroundings. He may not eat, or be himself.

After three weeks, he’s starting to settle in, feeling more comfortable, and realizing this just might be his home. He lets his guard down and may start showing his real personality for good or not so good.

After three months your pet is now comfortable in his home. You have built trust and a true bond.

We know there are situations you aren’t prepared for and sometimes as hard as we work together things happen. Usually, however, if a problem is caught early on it can usually be fixed. And then you’ll be able to provide that happily ever after home you always hoped for. It’s worth every effort, every question, every mistake. Just remember; 3:3:3.