the stranger in my house.
last night, I provided a stranger in need with a place to get back on his feet. I gave him a quiet room to himself with a comfy bed and some food. I let him have his space, because after all, he is a stranger. he doesn’t know me and I don’t know him. I didn’t let him meet the other residents of the house, because although he seems polite, I’m sure he would rather not have to put on a happy face while he settles in. I didn’t wrap my arms around him in a hug, I didn’t give him access to the full house, I didn’t try to play games with him- because he’s a stranger.
this, is bringing a new dog home. and something I wish I had learned sooner. imagine that scenario above, but you’re the guest. can you imagine staying at an Airbnb and a family of five immediately rushes you, hugs your neck, pulls you around the house by your hand because they’re SO excited you’re here, pairs you with friends they just KNOW you’ll love, hangs all over your bed, jokes and laughs and smothers you? at first, you would probably be polite, but can you imagine how quickly that would get old? you’re tired, this situation is unfamiliar, these people have never met you before and you need space.
too often we do this to dogs and then wonder why after a couple days, they’re showing signs of aggression to the other dogs in the house or acting out. there is an amazing thing called a ‘shut down’ or ‘decompression’ period (that I first learned through @muttslovepits) that I wish was talked about more. some rescues require this for two weeks, others say it’s based on the individual dog, but the theory is you allow a new dog minimal interactions with the rest of the home. they have a safe space they can hear and smell the sounds of the house, soak everything in, process what they’ve been through and then when the time comes to meet the other residents, they’re not bombarded with new smells / sounds / people / dogs while also trying to make a decision on how they should react in this overwhelming setting.
deciding to foster or adopt is the first step in saving an animals life, but setting them up for success after the fact is what makes it a lifelong win 💛take it slow.