Need advice on whether to accept a golden - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 65 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Need advice on whether to accept a golden

First off--hello I am brand spankin' new, and just joined because I have a rather important question, and there seems to be bucketloads of sound advice here.

So here's the thing--some friends of our are trying to rehome their 5 y.o. golden. They just had their fifth child, and they are overwhelmed and feel that they do not have enough time to spend with the dog. We were thinking about adopting a senior dog from the local shelter, and when they found out, they decided that we are the PERFECT people for their dog. And as much as I really want to help them out, I am quite far from convinced. In fact, I'm inches from telling them to find the dog a different home. That said, I want to make sure that my husband and I are not being wussies and that our decision is sound and not rash. So if you have the time, I'd appreciate it if you would analyze our situation and let us know what you think.

Our home:
It is just my husband and I (we are in our late 20s), we have a nice 1800 sq ft house with a .25 acre fenced backyard. We are gone from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. weekdays for work, but are mostly around at night and on the weekends. We have 2 established cats who are not used to dogs but are exceedingly self-confident and not at all shy or skittish.

Their home:
A decent yard (I don't know what size). Mom, toddler, and baby home all day. Older children (8-14 ish) home after school.

The scenario:
Dog came to our house to visit for the first time last night as a test. We were assured repeatedly that the dog (5 years old) is very calm and highly trained. We said we were very worried the dog wouldn't be happy and get enough attention, since we are gone all day at work. They believe that the attention he gets at home and on the weekends will more than compensate for the lack of attention he gets now. I think the poor dog will be heartbroken and missing his family and deathly lonely during the day. I can't imagine the cats would be a good substitute for us. That said, we are very devoted to our animal-children (totally not into the "owner" thing) and would intensively train and exercise doggy daily (1-2 walks/day). So maybe that's enough???

Lifestyle aside (as if that weren't enough of a concern), last night's meeting went HORRIBLY. "Calm" puppy dog burst through our front door unleashed, bouncing off the walls and thrilled to PIECES!!! to be somewhere new. He was wiggling all over, whining, beside himself excited (to the point where I was worried he was going to break everything in sight, including my glass-front bookshelf). One of the cats ran up her 7 ft cat tree and was perfectly content to stare at the dog with contempt, but the other, freaked by the dogs behavior, immediately jumped on the dog, attacking it tooth and claw. I realize this was not a good way to introduce them (I was not actually in the front room when they arrived, had no real idea when they were coming, and my husband was clueless--trust me, things will be very controlled next time). We immediately got the cat under control and put him in another room until he calmed down. In the meantime, the dog (which of course hated being attacked but just cowered the whole time) returned to bouncing off the walls and running from person to person (the dad brought all 4 non-baby children along :/). After a while (half an hour, the dog doesn't like to listen), the dog and cat calmed down reasonably. The dog was laying down, just panting and behaving, and we carried the cat back into the room. Staying quite far away, we just had them in the same room together. Kitty did fine as long as the dog was quite. We set him on the floor and he cautiously walked up to the dog, sniffed his paw, walked away, and seemed okay. He hopped into my lap and purred. Someone stood up and doggie said OH BOY, person is MOVING!! and immediately went nutso again. The cat immediately freaked and tried to attack the dog again.

So in a nutshell: Their family has a lot more people and always someone home, even if the dog gets no attention. Dog is NOT well-trained, despite what the current family claims, but I'm fine with training, as I really enjoy training dogs. But I've never worked with a hyper crazy wrecking ball before, and I'm not sure I want to (they swear he's fine until new people come to visit). Our cat wants to kill him every time he gets excited.

I'm thinking this sounds like a terrible fit. Doggie won't be happy without all his people and being home alone during the day. Cat wants to kill hyper doggie. The current family, however, is CONVINCED that this went really well??? and are all geared up to give him to us. The dad even said the dog really "took" to us (looked to me like he just plain likes everyone). I don't want the poor baby to get mauled all the time, even if the current owner believes he's totally fine (those claws have to hurt, and I'm worried about his eyes).

So I say NO. IF we get a dog, I think it should be older, totally calm, and relatively independent. Hence the senior rescue idea. They think everything is a total go.

Do you all think 1) the dog would be okay with our work schedule and 2) I could train it to calm down enough that the cat would not attack it?

I am open to any and every suggestion. Breed types, don't get a dog, buy a stuffed dog.... I want to hear your experienced thoughts. This family is desperate to give us this dog, and I hate to disappoint them. And the dog is overweight, undertrained, and theoretically neglected. We could get the weight better under control (and groom him) and train him, but I'm not sure we can calm him and make him happy. I want what is best for this dog.

Thanks so much for your time!!!
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post #2 of 65 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 01:19 PM
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Okay, my thougths. I don't think you can tell from the first introduction. You say you want to train the dog so here is your chance. You have a large yard and if the dog likes fetch or other throwing things that would be a great place to burn off some energy. A 5 year old dog can be calm, but he must know the rules, which will be vastly different in your house. Most dogs sleep during the day when people are not home. I would be much more worried about temperment issues. Crate trained? Food agression? Resource guarding? Housebroken? Health issues (see vet papers)? Has the dog been on heartworm preventative? Those kinds of things would be top of my list. A rowdy dog new to your home would be a little lower on the list. A few days and training will help with that. Cat friendly? I'd take the dog for at least a weekend and see how it goes after the above questions have been answered.

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post #3 of 65 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 01:20 PM
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No expert advice to offer as I am also new to dog ownership, but it sounds like your gut is telling you no. I rarely go against that.

That said, perhaps a second, more controlled/calm meeting would be beneficial? If I were considering adopting an adult dog, I'd ask for copies of vaccine reports and I may even go so far as to call their vet or breeder to get an idea of the dog's history.

Good luck, and I hope those more experienced than me can chime in!
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post #4 of 65 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 01:21 PM
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I am not trying to tell you whether or not to adopt the dog, but it's not so uncommon for an animal to go bonkers in a new environment, even if they behave perfectly in their current home. Dogs generally dislike change and should you choose to adopt him, it wouldn't be unheard of for the dog to act weird, act up or be hyper upon arriving at his new home.

As for them being desperate to give you the dog, have you asked them exactly why they think YOU would be perfect? And maybe they should try another visit... WITHOUT the kids.
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post #5 of 65 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 01:22 PM
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Maybe you should ask if you can keep him for a few days. One meeting in a new surrounding, you are not going to really see how the dog acts, especially if the dog doesn't go many places, he probably is very calm most of the day.

Yard size makes no difference, as long as he is getting the exercise needed.

Goldens are "puppies" most of their lives. He is still young enough to be trained. Most rescues will have some type of scars or problems that you will need to deal with, I guess you just need to figure out which ones you will WANT to deal with.

I think that it is a plus that he comes from a family with children of all ages, especially since you are young, and may want to have children in the future.

Bringing a dog into a home, you will need to dog proof things, anything that a wagging tail may break should be put away, etc.

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post #6 of 65 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 01:25 PM
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Sounds like you are a smart cookie, kudos to you for being level-headed. Yes, it is absolutely possible for you all to train this dog (it doesn't sound like he has a high prey drive if he didn't defend himself from your cat) and lots of people make your type household work with a golden. There is every possibility this dog has had some training but forgot his manners with all the excitement and all the kids along. Could You try a more long term temporary try without his family along?

However, that said, please do not feel pressured into a situation you are not wanting to put all the time and effort (and this will require some time and effort) to turn him into the dog you want. Gather information on your local rescue group and encourage this family to turn the dog over to Golden Rescue where he will be assessed and paired with someone who is a good fit. Rescues are wonderful groups and can turn this dogs life around, don't feel pressured if you don't want to do this.

ETA: You've been given some fantastic input by the previous posters, try a longer visit to give him time to calm down and don't feel rushed to make a decision.

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Last edited by nolefan; 12-03-2012 at 01:31 PM.
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post #7 of 65 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 01:31 PM
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Don't take the first meeting too seriously, it isn't really an indication of what the dog is like normally.

We adopted a 3 year old, who is now 5. He was never socialized as a puppy or trained before we got him. Our lives are generally fairly routine, and he settled in well after an initial period of testing limits. We walk him and play with him as much as he allows (not much since he never learned interactive play with people). We have taken classes and he passed his Canine Good Citizenship test. With us, he behaves very well. Mostly he sleeps or looks out the windows at the world passing by, and loves to go for walks or rides in the car. In normal life he is a mellow relaxed dog.

However, when we go someplace new, he still gets really excited. We visited relatives recently, and he spent the first day racing around, exploring every corner of their house. By the next day, he was calm and we were able to leave him for a few hours alone without worry. When we are walking in our usual places, he trots along happily by my side. Go someplace new, and he becomes a puppy again, wanting to explore it all at once. I enjoy his excitement, because it makes me see things with different eyes too. We have other family we visit from time to time, and the first hour or so he runs around, trying to see what has changed since his last visit. A short while later, he lies calmly by our feet.

IOW, once settled in to your home, you will probably find him much more relaxed than on the initial visit. The fact that he didn't go after the cats is a good sign. Our Ben chases cats. (Strong prey drive.) Given that your cat attacked the dog - you are likely to have that problem no matter what dog you get. They will work out a pecking order (with cats on top), but having a dog that is already intimidated by the cats might not be all bad.
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post #8 of 65 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 01:34 PM
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Of course the family thinks you are a perfect fit for their dog - it solves all their problems and relieves them of any guilt. They should pay YOU!

That said, give the poor guy a try for a few days, without the family around. Keep him on a leash, with the cats around, though I doubt if it will be an issue from what you've said - the hierarchy is cats > dog.
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post #9 of 65 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 01:40 PM
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It sounds from your post like this doesn't seem like a good idea to you but the people are pressuring you to take their dog. It doesn't seem like a very good idea unless you can be enthusiastic about it. You shouldn't do it because they want you to or they try to make you feel guilty for not taking the dog.

I agree with others that the dog was likely much more excited than he normally would be because of the novelty of the situation. The reaction of the cat concerns me but since we don't have cats I don't know how easily that would be resolved. The fact that a family with children would want to rehome their 5 year old pet raises lots of questions in my mind.

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post #10 of 65 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by BajaOklahoma View Post
Of course the family thinks you are a perfect fit for their dog - it solves all their problems and relieves them of any guilt. They should pay YOU!

That said, give the poor guy a try for a few days, without the family around. Keep him on a leash, with the cats around, though I doubt if it will be an issue from what you've said - the hierarchy is cats > dog.
I agree 100% percent...... Vicki
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