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How to adopt a

Dogs Available now..........


Fat Sam, Dundee, Lexie, Owen - PWC, Dennett, and on the back of the futon is Sammie-bug.

or other breeds

Theresa L. Stefancik


The first thing you should do is sit down and think about why you want a dog in the first place. Just because an older dog may or may not be housebroken and have some basic manners, you are still bringing in an animal that is going to be counting on you for everything: food, shelter, medical care, playmate and lots of love. If after thinking about it and the commitment you (and your family) still want to be a rescue owner, here's how you go about it and what to expect.
Breed rescue can be found by contacting AKC for the CTCA listing (Cairns), asking at shows or even through an all-breed club that may be in your area. They may not have a Cairn person but they'll be able to steer you to someone. You can try your local shelter also as many of them have breed contact people on file. I live in Texas, and I find that it is a little bit harder to find contacts than the northeast. Things are pretty spread out here. Rescue info is now readily available on most breeds via the internet.
Once you make contact you will find a very warm but cautious person on the other end of the line asking many many questions. Be prepared to answer them honestly. Rescue groups may have certain stipulations about adopting one of their rescues. A fenced yard, or if you live in an apartment, they may want to see in writing that you have permission from the landlord. Quite often a rescue contact will even make a house call to see that you really do have what you say you have. They are not singling you out. Their job is to make sure the animals in adoption are going to the best homes possible and things like not having a fenced yard with a Cairn, but understanding this is a dog that MUST be walked ALWAYS on a leash are probably not a big deterrent if all other aspects meet the right requirements. (This is an example only; contracts can be very specific.)
They will want to know if you have children, their ages and in general about your life and your routine. For your part, you need to let your rescue contact know what you are looking for. Age ranges, sex, personality, training health etc. Give your contact as much information as you can and be prepared to receive a little education along the way. In the end you are both trying for the same goal, to find the right companion (for both parties, dog & human) to share many happy years together.
 One other thing is to be a little flexible with those things you can be. Wouldn't you hate to miss the perfect dog for you because you said you didn't want a dog over a year and a half and they had one that was two or even three? I can't stress this point enough.

If you absolutely HAVE to HAVE a red female that is six months old, with papers and such and such a personality you might want to consider a breeder instead of a rescue (again only an example). This is not to say that you won't get it through rescue but you might have to wait longer. Most dogs that come to rescue are between a year and seven years, not having hard facts I would guess that many are in the one and a half to three year range and maybe more males than females. I do feel comfortable saying that probably half or more are pet store dogs.

Cairn rescue does get puppies; we had two in recently that were well under a year, although not young pups. It is rare that we get papers and many clubs don't pass them on. All dogs are spayed or neutered before they go into new homes. Papers may be given, if available, to a very special home that wants to do any of the other AKC-sanctioned events: agility, obedience, earthdog, etc. If your rescue doesn't have papers, it is an easy thing to get an ILP (indefinite listing privilege) number from the AKC, which will allow you the same opportunities as a full registration with an altered animal (spayed or neutered).

*****Let's stop right here**** If you want a dog to show in conformation classes you should go to a reputable breeder.
Now, what rescue is going to do for you. They are going to keep your name on a list with the preferences that you have already discussed, and they will call you if they have something being turned in that may fit your needs and the dog's. Keep in contact with your chosen rescue person, even if it is just to chat. A squeaky wheel gets the grease and Cairn Terriers are usually in demand in many areas. A rescue contact worth their salt is going to make sure this dog is a viable candidate to place. This dog will most likely have spent at least a week or two in a foster home to get stabilized and for the foster home to assess what the dog requires to have a good home. Rescuers (good ones) will not place a nasty animal in any home. It will be humanly destroyed. A sad fact is that some dogs come into rescue that have been so abused and neglected they will never be able to placed.

This is the time when I must address some of the problems you may have with a rescue dog. They may not be housebroken, they may not be trained in any way, they may have some medical problems, and they may have some behavior problems. There are some dogs that just don't like kids or other animals. They can all find homes. Many homes have no children or cats or another dog so not being great around kids/cats/dog is not an issue.

We do get people who are willing to take an animal with a medical problem(s) and many times these animals are just as loving and wonderful as their non-medical issue counterparts, housebreaking can be trying but almost all dogs can be housebroken with patience and the right technique which rescue will help you with. Many times that training process is already started in the animal's foster home.

Some behavior problems can be overcome with lots of love and patience and I'm not going to go into them but your rescue person will/should tell you and they will if they think you can overcome it easily. Many times these poor dogs have been passed from pillar to post on their way to rescue. They have been abandoned in the most horrible ways and it's no wonder if they are a little cautious about doling out affection.

Having said that, let me also point out that there are just as many dogs that come from good families that for one reason or another can't keep their much loved pet. All rescues for adoption will have had a medical check and be current on all their shots, spayed & neutered. They should give the medical records that they have when you adopt the dog.

I will give you three examples all living under my roof and all being very different, of the kind of dogs in rescue.

Dennett came to us as our first TX rescue dog. He was picked up as a stray at about 18 months, had all sorts of parasites, heartworm and was not neutered. He was a very sweet dog but aggressive with other animals and needed training. Semi-housebroken. We wanted a dog with LOTS of personality, active to a fault, curious and bold. We got that and I'll admit he was a big (25lbs) royal handful, but he suits us to a tee.
We decided a few months down the road we really wanted and needed a second dog. Dennett, although aggressive would benefit from canine company in a number of ways. I got on the phone to rescue and between us we both knew what we needed in a second dog. It had to be female and somewhat submissive but not shy and preferably older.
We got Sammie-bug, a five to seven year old female, spayed, who had been owned by an elderly lady unable to keep her. A truly wonderful dog raised and cared for with love. She is a shameless beggar BTW. I will admit she is not the prettiest Cairn I have ever seen and is very obviously a "pet store" dog, but we find beauty in her in many other ways. After much planning and contriving, Dennett accepted her, although it wasn't easy. The two are the closest of comrades and even though they go their separate ways most days, they always find each other to curl up with on our bed no matter what other dog or cat might be hanging about.
Our third rescue started out as a foster; Dundee had been questionable on temperament from the beginning. He has snapped or bitten at least two people in the line of being shifted from home to home (4 that we know of) to end up with me. My job was to assess him to see if he is even placeable. My true feeling was that he was only placeable in a home with experience in dealing with behavior problems. We decided to keep him. After studying his behavior for over a month, I decided to have him x-rayed.

Low and behold, he has moderate hip dysplasia and is in constant low level pain and probably has been for most of his life. Jeez, I'd snap and growl too! He is now on Cosequin and doing great. He runs, he jumps, he FRAP's, he plays with the big boys now, but he still exhibits some less than desirable behavior and we are working on that diligently. Dundee is only about three years old. If he never gets behaviorally much better than he is now, both Michael and I can live with it and we feel the quality of his life will be excellent. I am still looking for cues from the little guy as to how to judge a bad day from a good day for him. Cairn Terriers are very stoic!

So there are three examples, a regular neglected stray, a good home dog, and a medical/behavioral problem. All of them loving dogs and placeable in the right homes. (Here! 8-))

Once you two or three (rescue contact, you and foster home person in many cases) have determined this might be the dog for you, plan on a visit to meet. Leave yourself enough time to spend with the animal, at least an hour or two if not more and plan on going home empty handed. You may not but leave the time to think about it too. If you do not like the dog for any reason DO NOT FEEL OBLIGATED TO ADOPT!

Rescue will understand and they won't take your name off the list either. Actually you all may come closer to the dog you are really looking for the next time around. This dog is not going to be put to sleep or dumped in any way. They will find a suitable home for him/her and in the meantime it is spending its days in a foster home that is loving and caring. CTCA checks out its foster people too! 8-)

If you do decide to take the rescue and have already made arrangements in your home for the new arrival. (Crate, toys, leashes etc) Most rescue groups will the have you sign a contract stating that the dog is to be turned back to them if for any reason you no longer want it. They will also charge a fee in the form of a donation (so it's tax deductible to you) to cover the cost of medical treatment, neuter/spay etc. I can assure you, cairn rescue is not making money off of this, and it's a break even or maybe not quite affair.

Many animals come through with heartworm in this area and Cairn Terrier rescue will put the animal through heartworm treatment with little or no cost to the future owner. The vets that donate or reduce their costs for rescue groups are unsung heroes. We cherish them. Rescue will let you know everything about the dog that they have gleaned, what it eats and any issues regarding health, training etc. This should all have been discussed in detail while you were spending time with the dog. Never ever feel stupid asking lots of questions and don't ever hesitate to pick up the phone to ask your rescue person a question in the future. We were all newbies at one time or another and being ignorant about something is nothing to be ashamed of, but staying that way is when you have resources at your disposal. 8-)

The animal is returnable for any reason, but two to three weeks is usually a good bench mark to judge if the dog is going to fit in your home, if not call them!!! They have probably been following up with you weekly anyway. The rescue group down here is wonderful and they follow up all the time on placements, even years after the dog has been in the home. Betty Marcum is keeper of a book of pictures of all the wonderful rescues and their homes over the years for this area. I would imagine most other rescue groups do much the same thing.
I know this has been long but I want to say that anyone dealing with rescue finds it both vastly rewarding and really frustrating. If only they could tell us their stories!

I can't stress enough that if you have any major reservations about taking a particular rescue dog, don't do it.

These animals, through no fault of their own, have passed through Lord only knows how many hands or out of the only home situation they have ever known. They don't need to pass through another. They need a good committed loving permanent home. Sometimes no matter what you do, you just can't work with a particular dog and it can't be avoided, but please, know in your own mind you've done everything you can and given the dog a fair shake.

Also, if you don't feel comfortable with your rescue contact, you can usually find another in an area close to you to work with that you like and feel understands what you're looking for.

If anyone wants further info on Cairn rescue, some help with getting a rescue, info on fostering etc. contact me. I'll help get you going in the right direction.

Some really great books that deal with rescue are:

"Save that Dog" by Liz Palika and it amplifies information about breed rescues.

"Second Hand Dog" by Carol Lea Benjamin and it will help you train and understand your rescue a little bit better.

All (rescue) dogs should have some basic obedience training even if they already know the commands; it will help both of you to learn to work together as a team.


Dennett - rescue Cairn
Sammie-bug - rescue Cairn
Dundee - rescue Cairn
Owen - Pembroke Welsh Corgi, the herding wonder
Fat Sam - Cairn
Lexie - Cairn

Dennett, Dundee, and Sammie(-bug)

Quincy - Scottish Fold ***cat***
Simon - this place ain't safe for a guinea pig!

Someone said guinea pig?!?

"Any time you think you have influence, try ordering around someone else's dog."

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Rescue Cairns Available in Central California

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This page was last March 30, 2002

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