Being a rescue dog mum... is it really that different?

February 13, 2017

Being a rescue dog mum is pretty flippin awesome (and some!) but is it really that different from being a mum to a dog that you brought into your family as a fluffy, wriggly puppy?

I'm a happy and proud ‘Dog Mum’ to my two curly goofballs, Freya and Dandy and I consider myself very lucky to be their mum. They are a stupendous pair! Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination - but viewed through my rose tinted glasses they are perfect to me!

"...I have two very different dogs..."

It’s fair to say that I have two very different dogs - in fact they couldn’t be more different from each other, they are polar opposites of each other, chalk and cheese!!! (and any other opposites that I can’t think of right now!)


They are different in their attitudes to life, love and behaviour and their funny and often bemusing outlooks on life in general got me pondering on whether this was down to their vastly different starts in life or was it down to their different characters and personalities?

Whether people choose to adopt a rescue dog or buy a puppy from a reputable breeder is entirely their choice. We bought Freya, our poodle x springer spaniel from a breeder as a puppy and we bought Dandy our miniature poodle from a rescue centre

We obviously know Freya’s full history as we got her when she was just a wee pup but we don’t fully know Dandy’s history. What we do know about Dandy is that he was an ex-breeding dog that was no longer required(!) He was approximately 4 years old when we adopted him and had lived in kennels.


I never like to assume what Dandy’s early life was like but I can’t help thinking that when I observe some of his quirky traits it must be down partly to some early years experiences (or lack of them?).

Both Freya and Dandy have very good manners, they will sit and lie down perfectly when asked, come back to a whistle while out on a walk, wait at doors etc, etc but basic manners and good behaviour for a treat is the easy bit - it’s the all important character building exercises that get you happily and safely through the day that need constantly working on.



Freya is bouncy, happy and brimming with energy. She embraces every second of every day as if it where her last day on planet earth. It’s fair to say that she loves the great outdoors!


She is also very vocal, she barks at the postman, the door bell, her ball that has rolled under the cooker that she can’t reach.


She runs up our road to search out her favourite cat poo spots! (disgusting I know!) She is also an incredibly loving dog, she loves our whole family equally.


She also strongly believes that everyone loves her too, even complete strangers and as much as she does have a level of family loyalty I’m pretty sure she’d hop into the postman’s van or a complete strangers car if she thought they were going to take her for a walk and give her a treat!



Dandy on the other hand is at the furthest end of this ‘love life and everything about it’ spectrum. Although he is also very bouncy, he doesn’t display the same level of exuberance for life that Freya does.


He is much more aloof and wary of situations. Don’t get me wrong he barks like a goodun but only if he thinks he is in no way endangering himself by barking! He take’s the ‘flight’ part from the ‘fight or flight’ response very seriously.


Dandy is nervous of other dogs approaching on a walk and many times, if the going gets too tough for him and the approaching dog is either too flamboyant or too big he has taken flight in the other direction. Luckily an even greater fear for my little worry-wart is not being close to his family so he never gets too far and very quickly returns.


He is without a shadow of doubt a one woman dog! He is my little shadow and stays close to me most of the time.


When we brought Dandy home we didn’t immediately address any worrying idiosyncrasies as we wanted him to settle in and feel safe. So when I got up, Dandy got up. When I walked to another room, Dandy followed. It took a lot of encouragement and patience to break this habit and I can tell you there was a lot of rejoicing the first time I left the room (for a couple of seconds) and Dandy didn’t leap up and follow me.


"...some serious separation anxieties..."


On our dog walks Dandy still sticks to me like glue, which is no bad thing to be honest - to the unknowing eyes of a passer by he looks like the most well behaved, obedient dog in the world when actually if truth be told he has some serious separation anxieties. 




I think that outlines just how different Freya and Dandy are? So to go back to my initial ponderings - why are they so different? And what, if anything has made them so different from each other?


"...why are they so different..?"

As responsible dog owners we all read about the importance of early years socialisation with other dogs and people. We go to obedience classes and familiarise our dogs with as many various environments and stimuli as we can, understanding that the more early years learning and experiences the better. 

So in that respect, Dandy didn't have the luxury of the stimulating early years learning that Freya did and of course this will have an impact on his behaviour, but he is learning everyday. Aren't we all..?

I think early years learning or lack of it makes for 'different' dogs, the same as in humans - we are not all the same and this is down to our life experiences as well as our characters and personalities.

All dogs are unique, that's the most awesome thing about them - I wouldn't want to meet lots of perfectly behaved dogs all the time, mainly because the pressure on me for my dogs not to mess up would be immense. My dogs mess up, so do I, that's life!


Being on your best behaviour all the time is hard work...

Just to clarify, my dogs and I don't go round completely out of control, thinking that the general rules of everyday etiquette aren't meant for us, we are not causing any worry or harm to others and I'm also not suggesting that we can all boycott puppy training classes and socialisation exercises as we can catch up later! 


I don't claim to be an expert in dog behaviour or training - this is just the ramblings of a dog mum who is an observer of two very funny, kooky and vastly different dogs, from different backgrounds.


"... all dog's rock..."


Every dog is different from the next one - they have different personalities, different outlooks and approaches to life, different lifestyles, but they are all dogs and they need lots of loving because all dogs rock!!!! I wouldn't change my two dogs for anything - I love them unconditionally, worry-warts and all!

Sending big hugs to all your awesome, quirky and different dogs, I love them all xxxx

(1) Big thanks to the lovely people at Cinque Ports Rescue who matched lovely Dandy with our family - we love him to bits and wouldn't be without him.


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About Kathy




I am an Oxfordshire based artist and illustrator and I've been creating Dotty Dog Art since 2013. 


I lovingly paint bespoke Dotty Dog portraits to bring you joy, memories and smiles.


With my background qualifications in art and graphic design I merge painting styles with graphic design techniques, building up shapes and tones to create a portrait that is fresh and original.


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