There are a number of considerations you need to think about when looking to adopt any animal but when considering taking on a Bulgarian dog that has been rescued from the street or a municipality pound there are some important points to take into account.
First taking on any animal is a commitment – even a guinea-pig can live several years and a dog or cat can live to be 18 years old. Are you prepared to ensure your adopted pet is a treasured part of your family even after the kids have lost interest and left home, when the animal becomes old and needs more care and attention and vet bills may mount?
Any animal can unfortunately become ill or suffer an accident and require expensive vet treatment – are you prepared to cover the costs for this? Taking out pet insurance is a good idea but otherwise make sure you can afford routine vet treatments as well as have enough for any emergencies.
What will you do with your pet when you go away on holiday? Nowadays it is far easier to travel abroad with your pet but if you are planning on leaving your pet at home do you have a neighbour or friend that will look after him or her? Or will you pay for kennels or a cattery or maybe consider a pet sitter?
Taking on an ex-street dog or stray
Whilst many Bulgarian street dogs make ideal and loving pets, there are a few things to take into account:
- Escape Artists – most street dogs are used to roaming and this indistinct often stays with them. We have had our 4 Bulgarian rescues for years, two of them since birth and yet given half the chance, 3 of them would jump, dig or chew their way out of any enclosed area we put them in.Our garden has to be like Fort Noks and somehow they still sometimes manage to find an escape route.
- Recall – Now whilst much of this is down to training (and we will be the first to admit ours are not the best trained dogs!!! :)) some ex-strays will need some serious training and a lot of time and patience to learn recall skills. We can still only let 2 of our 4 off the lead in open spaces as the other two will be in the next valley!
- Chase instinct – When on the street, something that ran was often considered food so ex-strays will often chase poultry, ex-street dogs will often chase cats unless taught not to (however many will also quite happily live with cats or learn to).
- Food Issues – Even though all our 4 get two good meals a day and never have to worry about being hungry again, you would still think each meal is their last and they will still try and steal food off the other dogs and I would never trust them with food left out on the surface. And they can still growl from time to time if we try and move their bowl when they are eating.
- Temperament – Rescue animals can make the most loving and loyal pets and are truly grateful for the home and love you offer them. Despite all they have been through they have the most amazing temperaments. However, please keep in mind what they poor animals have been through. Their experiences will stay with them for life and means every now and then they can be a little un-predictable and have funny little quirks. Our oldest rescue we have had for 7 years. She is one of the softest dogs I have ever come across, yet she grumbles and growls at everything. She will bare her teeth at us if we sit too close to her on the sofa, she will growl at our other dogs, she will snap at them when they try and come through a door way and she is and always will be jealous of us giving attention to any other animal. But we love her to bits and accept her for her weird little ways.
- Other behavioural issues – These poor animals have often been through hell and only just survived. While many have physical scars, many will also have mental scars as well. You will need to be prepared to accept these and have patience and understanding. Sometimes training and behavioural work will help but other times there are just some deep rooted issues that are difficult to over come. For example two of our rescues have a thing about sticks. We think maybe they were beaten when younger. The sight of a stick (be it a broom, ski pole etc) sets them off barking with hackles raised. One of our dogs is incredibly nervous of new people. She will really only accept Pete and I and often even forgets who Pete is, she can be cuddling with him one moment and can hide behind the sofa when he next comes in the room. It usually takes her a few weeks to allow anyone new to get near her. While all of our dogs are well socialised with other dogs and used to people, when out on a lead they can take a dislike to a certain person and certain other dogs and lunge on the lead. One has a particular dislike of old men!
These are just a few pointers to think about when considering adopting a rescue dog. They make loving, loyal companions but like all of us come with their own personalities, likes and dislikes and weird little ways!