There have been many discussions via different social media platforms recently about how to look at and describe the background of a rescue dog. People get defensive about what they think did or did not happen to their beloved pooches before the dogs became part of their family. But ultimately, why does it matter?
As a generally compassionate race, humans feel the need to linger on past experiences, whether it is with people or with animals. I was guilty of this as well with previous fosters, delving into their sob stories – confirmed or assumed- as soon as I introduced them to someone new. Thinking back now, I’m not sure why I felt the need to do that. Did I think telling a story of abuse would make someone like my dog more? Did I think it would make them more likely to adopt? Was it for my own satisfaction, showing “how far my dog had come”?
One day my eyes were opened to a new approach of advertising my animals. A more positive, happy approach: tell people what you do know about your dog. So basically, tell them anything you have seen and experienced first hand. This will probably include how loving they are, how much they love to play, how friendly and outgoing they are, etc. These traits are not only super positive, but more importantly they are accurate facts confirmed solely on your experiences with them – not assumptions, not hearsay, not hypothesizing.
Take CK Bax for example. I have absolutely no idea what happened to Baxter before he came into the shelter as a stray. He came to us in bad shape with scars and hunger and fear. Sure, based on his actions and appearance one can make speculations about what he experienced, but the hard truth is that no one knows. No one.
Even if we did know what happened or felt comfortable sharing what we think happened, telling people the gory details of Baxter’s assumed past is most likely to turn them off to him. It can unintentionally spark “I don’t want a dog like that, with that kind of history” thoughts. Baxter’s hardships are all behind him. Now, Baxter is a happy, outgoing, and totally adorable dog, and that is what I love about him. That is what is going to sell him to his forever home.
Deep down we know we don’t want people adopting our animals out of pity. We want people to choose adoptable animals because they see them fitting in perfectly with their family, because they couldn’t imagine their lives without this great dog, or because the dog simply captured their heart.
So maybe take different approach and stay positive when describing your rescue or adopted pooch. Focus on the good, the here and the now – take a message from your dog and don’t get stuck in the past. Share the things about your pup that make you burst with happiness, and maybe save the sob stories for another day. In the end, you’ll see that the way people perceive your dogs will start to make a positive change.
For more information on adopting Comeback Kid Baxter, click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.