Airedale Rescue Tips and Procedures
After 25 or so years of doing Airedale rescue, I have pretty much seen it all. Here are some of the things I've learned.
Some ground work is required before you should actually do your first rescue. Some vets and some boarding kennels are in tune with us and will give us a break, but most are not. I have enclosed a form letter for you to personalize and send to all near-by veterinarians. The same sort of form could be sent to area kennels. Kennels, though, would need to checked for safety, cleanliness, temperature control, etc. (Bear in mind that in-home foster care is not only free, but provides the only way to really know your rescue dog!)
You must thoroughly go into all of the bad things about Airedales (at least those things that most people perceive as being bad) when talking to prospective adopters who have no experience with our wonderful breed! And before placing a dog, the prospective adopters must know every little "bad" thing you know about the dog you are placing!
Whenever and as soon as an adopter no longer wants the rescue dog you have placed, go get him immediately. The situation isn't going to correct itself, and you don't want to subject the dog to more rejection or any peculiar behavior that people seem capable of when they "have to put up with" something they don't want.
Basic rescue procedure:
When you get a call to take a dog, always ask if the breeder has been notified. We need to be relentless about the fact that it is a breeder's responsibility to take back and relocate the dogs he has bred, when they are no longer wanted.
Accept a dog for adoption, either from a private party (Always make sure you get a signed surrender form and all veterinary records that are available) or a shelter. Shelters will be more apt to cooperate with you if you make personal contact with the persons in charge and provide them with a packet of your paperwork. When a shelter won't permit you to take out a dog to place, see if you can at least properly groom the dog, and in that way you'll get to somewhat determine his/her temperament. The dog will also stand a much better chance of being adopted. You could also ask the shelter to give your name and phone number to the adopter of the Airedale, in case they need help or advice.
Groom (usually we clip them) and bathe thoroughly and "professionally" so as to find any areas (skin, ears, feet, etc.) that might need to be brought to the attention of the vet as well as determine the willingness of the dog to be touched and worked with. And it is important to have your rescue dog groomed to be as beautiful an example of the breed as possible. A handsome Airedale can be made to look pretty awful with bad grooming. And vice versa!
Take to vet for updating all shots, worm test, heartworm check, treatment of any medical problem, and neutering, if not previously done. Every dog must be neutered or spayed before being placed!
Provide foster care in home for evaluation of temperament and personality.
If in-home care is not possible, provide for kenneling nearby. Supply blankets and toys.
Match your rescue dog to an appropriate household. That is, don't place a dog who isn't used to children into a home with kids. A dog used to sleeping in bed should not be placed where he must sleep in the kitchen. A very young dog should not go to very old people. Do not place an Airedale in a home without a fenced yard; make an exception only when the adopting party has been accustomed to walking a dog on leash for many years. Never make an exception about fencing when children are in the household.
Do a house check. Make sure these fine people are really telling the truth about a fence. Make sure they are prepared for a dog digging holes in the yard. Make sure they plan on and truly want an in-door companion. If you see perfect landscaping and white carpeting think twice!
Be ready to help with advice before and after placement.
Make it clear that if they are not thrilled with their new dog by the end of, say, three weeks, they must return the dog to you. If it doesn't work by then, it's not going to. Also make it clear that they must bring the dog back to you if at any time, any age, for any reason they no longer want him. That's why it is extremely important that they really want a dog, want that dog to be an Airedale, and are eager to give this particular Airedale their loving home. It has to be a good match for your rescue dog. You want this home to be his LAST home!
Long ago, I discovered that screening potential adopters by phone interviews did not work for me. Therefore I developed, with Lynne Jensen's help, a packet to send out to all who call me about adopting an Airedale. I send out many packets, and only a few applications are returned. But that's okay. I no longer have to go through what can sometimes turn into very exasperating conversations. In other words, my nerves don't get jangled nearly as often. I have talked to a great many folks who sounded absolutely perfect on the phone and then I've never heard from them again. I've learned that's no great loss. If someone can't see the value in the time and care we take in placing our dogs in the right home, then they don't merit one of our dogs.
Once you take in a dog, the rescue is between you and that dog, and the adoption is between you and the person taking that dog. That is why your name must appear on the placement agreement. It is up to you to make sure it's the right place for that dog. It is your responsibility to take the dog back if it doesn't work out, or if the people have a "change of heart" for any reason, anytime in that dog's life. And you assume the liability for placing your dog, which brings home the importance of doing an impeccable job!
Don't take any chances.
If a dog's temperament is at all questionable, please have the vet put him/her down. There are plenty of wonderful dogs in this world. A lot of them are put to sleep everyday just because there are not nearly enough homes to go around.
As you can see on our paperwork, an adoption fee is always charged. (Well, I really don't charge for dogs 9 or over...When someone is willing to take a dog of that age, you can pretty much count on their being very special people.) The amount is usually determined by the age of the dog. (Younger is more.) If you've been lucky enough to find a vet who will work at reduced fees, you may be able to stay on an even keel. I suggest a separate bank account for your rescue work. You provide the work and the love part free...and normally the food.
If lack of money would make you even hesitate to rescue an Airedale in need, please remember the committee's fund.
All in all, rescue work is not work at all. You get to do what you love and love what you do, and still get rewarded for it, by both Dog and God.