During the days and weeks that follow the arrival of your newly adopted family member, you’re sure to encounter some hiccups and challenges. Having done Rescue for so many years, I doubt there is anything I haven’t heard of, so let’s go over a few of the common issues.
1. The Initial Freak Out.
The Initial Freak Out can happen a week after you’ve brought your new pet home, the very day you bring your new pet home, or even while you’re driving home with your new pet in your arms.
Believe it or not, it’s okay –we’ve all been there. Suddenly, you’re hit with the overwhelming feeling of responsibility and knowledge that your life will never be the same, and you wonder if you are ready for this. You wonder if it’s what you really want. You wonder whether it’s fair on your new animal. You wonder whether you can be everything they deserve. Suddenly, you feel like turning around and undoing everything; it’s all been a big mistake!
But it’s ok, things will be fine, believe me. Your life will change for sure, but it’s unlikely to be for the worse. You will develop new routines, and your life will go on as before, just better! Maybe you will go through a few sleepless nights, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. You are not unlike all your friends and family who own pets; it’s not the end of your world. Take a deep breath, and just concentrate on getting through one day at a time. Food, check. Water, check. Bed, check. Clean, check. Removed everything of value that can be ruined? Well… just make a valiant effort with this one…
2. Animals not getting along with the new pet in the household.
While it is true that occasionally, an animal won’t fit in, 9 out of 10 times (yeah, I made that figure up) it’s just a matter of patience, or adjusting. You shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that things haven’t worked out and that you need to return your new pet. Give. It. Time.
Accept that you decided to bring this new animal home, and that now you’re stuck with it, so let’s make the best out of this situation. When people have a human baby, it is socially unacceptable to return it to the hospital because it’s just not fitting into your household. You can’t return a baby because its brother or sister doesn’t want to have a sibling. You have to make it work.
Sometimes, sure, the stress of a household with animals that can’t coexist can lead to someone finding a new home for the greater good, but let me tell you, it’s very rarely the case. Believe it or not, in a worst case situation, if your bunny/guinea pig/ferret/whoever doesn’t get along with other household pets, and you fear for their safety, it is possible to keep them separate with fences, doors, walls, etc. Believe me, I’m a rescue. I have 50 animals and some of them would tear the others apart. But living side by side with each other, well, that is the one rule we have. They’ve all just gotta get used to it, and believe me, you and your pets can too! Ok, so your bunny doesn’t want a friend, and you don’t think it will ever work. But hey,it was worth a try, and you’ve got a spare bedroom, so why not give him/her that space? Why jump to the conclusion that it is better to return the animal to a shelter, where he/she will once again be homeless? You live in a small house/apartment and you can’t keep your fighting bunnies separated? Uhuh… we hear you. You seriously think we don’t have to have separate enclosures, and separate free range time for all our animals in the house? You can do that too!
3. Just commit damn it.
We get asked a lot whether we have “trial periods”. I understand the mentality and reasons behind this introduced scheme. They benefit the adopter completely, so basically, if they feel their new family member isn’t 100% perfect, it’s got a refund option, just like big department stores.
Well, the animals here aren’t commodities, they’re living beings. Again, imagine asking a hospital whether you can have a trial period with your new baby? Can you bring him back, if, say, things don’t work out? No no no, you’re going into things with the wrong attitude. There is no refund option. Make the commitment before you walk out the gate.
When people go to a breeder/pet shop, etc, they often do not even consider the option of refunds or returns. Then, when their new pet chews a wire, it is forgiven and the wire is replaced. Its bad habits are tolerated, because you don’t consider an alternative other than making things work, because you’re stuck with him/her now. They’re family.
But a rescue? If you think “ah well, the rescue will take him back!” then when something is destroyed the first reaction is to take the animal back rather than working through the problem. Guess what, you’ve just missed out on a hell of a lot of love and joy, because those people who could not return their pet, those people with the super-expensive pedigree with a fee that can never be recovered… well, they will have what you will not.
Please, if you are reading this and thinking of adopting, be 100% committed, for the sake of the animals. I can’t guarantee things will go smoothly when you go home, but the reward is great if you approach adoption with the right mindset. It will change your life and it will be OK. In fact, it will be better than OK, it’ll be wonderful for you both. Millions have owned pets before you and it isn’t rocket science, you can do this!
Photos in this article are of animals that were returned to the shelter through no fault of their own. Please note, we will always take any animal adopted from us back. In fact, if you adopt from us you will sign a contract to ensure the animal never goes anywhere else. We would, however, always rather work through your problems rather than have animals returned.