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Any experience with rescued dogs?

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Joined: 08 May 2006
Posts: 6
Location: Orygun

PostPosted: 05/12/06, 11:03 pm    Post subject: Any experience with rescued dogs? Reply with quote

Hello, My name is Shane. I want my next dog to be a good hunting dog of both upland birds and waterfowl, and a loved member of our family. I have a wife and daughter and a good home to offer a dog.
My question is for anyone with any personal experience, or firsthand knowledge of rescued GWPs. By giving a good home to a dog in/from a bad or negative situation, will my desires to have a decent hunting companion be dealt a bad hand? I know Rescued dogs can come with their own sets of baggage, but can a dog of 8-16 months have old habits trained out and new habits trained in, or is an uphill, losing battle?
Any, and I mean ANY advice will be greatly appreciated.
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Joined: 24 Feb 2005
Posts: 26
Location: Montana

PostPosted: 05/13/06, 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


I have to applaud you for considering adopting a rescue! I have never rescued a GWP or another hunting dog but we rescued others. And believe me, it is the best feeling to see a dog change in front of your eyes.

The first rescue we brought home was a border collie and a blue heeler pup, Yoda. He was about 2 months old and already on a death row. We brought him home and he was scared of everything. A month or so later, he was the happiest pup you could find. Now he is a proud owner of a two year old girl and they are inseparable.

Another dog we rescued was already in a crate on her way to being shot. Her owner just decided he didn't want her no more. I brought her home and she was so malnurished that she threw up everything she ate. We had to feed her a handful of food at a time. Every time we would raise our voices at any of our other dogs, she would cower and pee, she was sooo scared. We really had to take it easy with her.
We had to lock her outside whenever I wanted to sweep the house because she was horriefied of the broom. Obviously a sign of being abused. She was about 10 months old when we got her.

After about a month of being with us, she is not the same dog. Happier than you can imagine, confident, smart, just a joy to be around. Plays with our other dogs... It literally took us a few days to house train her. She is not scared of anything now.... The shy pup we brought home, now just demands affection, and loves to play with us. By the way, we decided to keep her forever.

To give you an idea about rescued hunting dogs, here is a link to an article from a Helena Independent (Helena, MT). It takes a while to download but you should read it:

It just takes time for those guys to trust people again.... but it is worth the wait. At the same time, if it is a dog that doesn't have hunting instinct then it probably woulnd't work for hunting but you would still have a friend for life.

You should try contacting GWP Rescue people, they do such an amazing job! And they evaluate dogs for hunting potential as well. They would be your best resource. Try the Rescue portion of this forum for contacts.

I hope this helps and good luck. Let us now what you decide.

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Joined: 26 Dec 2003
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Location: Olathe, Kansas

PostPosted: 06/05/06, 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


I have the good fortune to live in the same town as GWP Rescue. We donated food, meds, etc. that were left after our first GWP died. And ended up getting a rescue dog from the organization. And what a dog!
She had been dumped with 3 pups (and she's only 19 months or so old now). She had to learn how to go through doorways, get in a car, etc. She was hand-shy, infested with parasites, had raging ear infections and out of condition (fitness wise).

She has turned out to be one of the best dogs we've every had. Has to be with you (velcro dog) all the time. She runs off leash just about every day. Loves to swim, retrieve. Won't ever hunt (loud noise aversion), but likes to pretend. And a bonus...cats and squirrels never come in the yard now!.

We are currently helping to foster one of the GWP Rescue dogs. Turns out he is mostly Wirehaired Pointing Griffin - but a wonderful dog. Very birdy.

My experience with the Rescue people is this...they are particular about the dogs they adopt out and about the people they adopt to. While nothing is 100%, you are likely to get a very good dog. They work very hard at matching the dog and the adopter. Many people are unprepared for the amount of exercise and attention GWP's need. Even a dog that is just a companion will still have a pretty good prey drive and need to run. If you can't provide that, it's not the breed for you.

In short, if you work with the club's Rescue coordinators (Laura Myles or Mary Murray), you are likely to have a really good experience.

Give it a shot!

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Joined: 05 Apr 2006
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Location: Wisconsin

PostPosted: 06/09/06, 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shane, I adopted a rescue dog (Dodger) in January from GWP Rescue. When he arrived, he clearly had never been hunted or had anything in way of basic obedience. He is shaping up to be a great dog, great family pet, and I suspect will be a very good hunting dog this fall. He was about 18 months when we brought him home. The biggest thing he had going for him was a very outgoing disposition and a huge desire to please. This made reward based obedience training a snap and within three months, he was fairly solid.

It should be noted that I went into this without the specific need for a hunting dog as I already have a GWP that is a great hunting dog. Dodger still needs some work, but has a very high prey drive, a great nose, and is very birdy. We are slowly working on his retrieving work, but he is staunch on point and was backing my female naturally within two weeks (with no guidance from me). The biggest challenge I personally had was getting the two young dogs to co-habitate and the first few weeks were pretty rough. However, I would endure those challenges again in a heartbeat as Dodger is such a great dog and these two are like littermates now.

There are some dogs in rescue that may never hunt and those are usually noted accordingly. There are several hunters there now, an older female and another in Illinois (Woody). Most GWP's love to hunt and most problems can be overcome with some consistency and patience. I have worked with a some gunshy dogs and even these issues can be overcome, but typically require an experienced trainer (and lots of patience!).

There are some great prospects that appear rescue that would meet your needs for hunting and as a family companion. Not every dog has necessarily come from a bad situation, some end up there do to illness, divorce or death of their owner, but were well cared for leading up to rescue.

To specifically answer your question, a dog of 8 to 16 months is still a pup and can easily be trained or retrained. Further, even older dogs can do well as they typically want so much to please.

The GWP is a great breed. I was raised with them (my family had two) and my grandparents had them as well. Rescue dogs are definitely worth a serious look and could meet your needs. You need to be patient, but they are often worth the effort. Good luck with whatever you decide!

Below are Dodger and Blue. Dodger is the liver dog and my wife and daughter's pride and joy. Oh, they aren't allowed on the bed, but I guess they thought the guest room would be fine.

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Joined: 08 May 2006
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Location: Orygun

PostPosted: 06/09/06, 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks all!!
I have my application in already with GWP Rescue and am now doing some more tedious leg work. Like airfare from several places, should a dog 'pop' up some where a little farther than a weekend road trip I need to be prepared. Thanks for the personal experiences, they are a lot more valuable than the various "My buddy's cousin got hisself a good huntin' dog from the pound" stories I've been getting.
Thanks again,
Shane Smile
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PostPosted: 08/04/06, 10:36 pm    Post subject: Any experience with rescued dogs? Reply with quote


I can't give advice because I just adopted a rescued GWP five days ago. I'm offering to be pen pals to learn mutually.

Strolling through the animal shelter, this was the mangiest, ugliest thing you ever seen. I had a feeling about him though because he was the only dog not barking up a storm. They told me he (about a year old) was house-broken.

I'd give him a try, but insisted I'd bring him back if he didn't live up to expectations.

After two days of defiling my carpets, I was almost exasperated and ready to send him back ... and then the change occurred.

Upon adoption he was sent to the vet to be neutered, dewormed, and all that good stuff. I've been feeding him meatloaf scraps (from work) to add weight (his ribs were noticeable). Of course, this will stop once he puts on five pounds or so.

Most noticable, the first day I gave him a rawhide bone, it was bloody from his gums. He devours one a day to the exclusion of all else, and his teeth suddenly became whiter and healthier after just five days (and ten rawhides later, LOL).

His coat is now shining, in fact he looks just like the liver-colored dog in the previous post. If I could read his mind, it says to me, yes this is my new home and not my last dinner before the gallows.

Bottom line ... I almost gave up on him. After just five days, he is so loyal to me to a fault. I saved him from death, and he knows it. When he sleeps, it is apparent he is having nightmares of his time in the shelter.

It just takes a week of patience for him to realize this is his new home, and there are rules to follow.

Beyond this is new territory for me. I want him to be a grouse hunter. I've got about a month or so lest it wait until next year.

Good luck to you and yours, and drop me a line if you would like to commisserate together on this challenge. My initial opinion is "this dog has a lot of love to give", and if I never succeed in turning him into a grouse hunter, I've never been more sure of myself that I've found the best friend in my life.

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