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Getting a rescue dog?

Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

I’ve found a rescue dog online I’m drawn to adopt? He is on the introverted side and quite scared of people, and they are looking for someone of a similar nature who will be gentle and understanding of him.

Not long ago I saw an episode of The Dog House where a guy with PTSD was looking to adopt a rescue dog. He was initially matched with a dog who had trauma like him but it didn’t work out. In the end they matched him with a young, happy non-traumatised dog and it really worked.

What I’m a little worried about is my whole life I have been a carer for others who are traumatised, including caring for my mother from a young age. This has left me with my own trauma. I wonder if it would be better for me to adopt a less shut down and frightened dog. At the same time I feel I would understand him, be able to help him come out of his shell and help him feel safe, that the world is not a threat (even though I’m still learning this myself).

It’s like I’m exhausted from a lifelong carer role and feel I have nothing left to give, and yet I love dogs and am drawn to this one. I’m confused 😕

Obviously no one else can make the decision for me, and I can travel to meet him at least. But I just wondered if anyone else here with a trauma history has adopted a dog before? Was it a rescue dog and how did it go?

I didn’t grow up with dogs but have lived with others’ dogs several times as an adult. I’ve cared for housemates’ and landlords’ dogs for extended periods when they’ve been away. So I’m aware of the work involved but also loved them to bits and they’ve been an important part of my life. I have some chronic health issues so this one I’m considering at the moment might suit in that he’s not high energy and sounds like he’s happy to go on sedate walks. Anyway, just wondering if anyone has any thoughts or similar experiences?

14 Replies 14

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hello Dear Eagle Ray,

I love the idea of you adopting a rescue dog....They can bring so much comfort to us as well as exercise and many hours, days, weeks, months and years of happy times...

About 5 weeks ago I adopted an abused dog...I have 2 other dogs that I love unconditionally... now I added one more..and we all have some good times together...She is so loving and not wanting to leave my sight....I think now she feels safe and loved...

I like that you are going to him...in most cases when sighting a potential pet...you just seem to know if you are meant for each other and that you both will bond with each other.....

All dogs needs lots of time, love and care...a dog that’s gone through some trauma might need a little bit more commitment of your time...,Just about every living creature responds to love and care and will return it to their owner/companion...

It is a decision only you can make....I would say to you in r/l to go and have a look at his beautiful dog, preparing to spend a couple of hours with him....take some treats with you...which may help him to know that your there to love him and want to be his friend....take him for a little walk and give him lots of pats...

I really do wish you good luck and hope this beautiful fur boy and you are meant to be with each other....

Please do keep us updated on how you go....but please also remember to not be upset within yourself if he is not a good fit for you...because there are so many other dogs that need a loving home that you have waiting for one...

My kindest thoughts and care dear Eagle Ray..


Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hello Dear Grandy. Thank you for your lovely reply.

I’m so glad you have your 3 doggies and that your latest one now has 2 siblings and you as a loving dog parent.

The dog I’ve been looking at is recommended to go to a single person home. He can only be around one person at a time. I think he’s also not interactive with other dogs because he’s so afraid. I actually get the sense that he is dissociated in the way a human is when traumatised - cut off in his own world for self-protection.

My Mum was like this and I spent my whole life trying to heal her starting from when I was very small. I had a dream when I was 5 years old that she was floating out to see on a towel and I was too small to rescue her. She was like a statue with no emotions. It was how my future played out up until her death in late 2020 with me still trying to heal her in my mid 40s.

So I’m worried me trying to rescue this particularly shut down dog is me going into my lifelong pattern of trying to rescue when I’m not ok myself. In the episode of The Dog House Australia I saw, the guy with PTSD realised he was not in the best position to own a traumatised dog, but the story had a happy ending when they found another dog for him. The traumatised dog was also found a good home with someone else. I could relate to the dynamic he explains about how he came to realise the first dog wasn’t the right fit. So the more I think about it, I think my impulse to rescue this particular dog may not be coming from the right place in me, and the best owner for him might be someone else.

So I think I’ve kind of resolved this in the short time since my original post. There will be a right dog for me, but it needs to be a new start where I am not repeating the rescue dynamics that have characterised my whole life. It’s not that I can’t have a dog with any trauma, but this particular dog is so sad and cut-off I may be too damaged myself to be in a position to help him. There will be someone out there who is the right fit for him.

I love animals and feel they are in my future. In fact right now I can see parrots outside happily feeding on my orange and mandarin trees. I don’t mind sharing with them at all. I have a mother and baby possum visiting at the moment too. Nature and animals are the most healing thing for me.

Thanks again dear Grandy. I can tell you are such a kind, caring soul 🙏

Hi Eagle Ray 🙂

In October I adopted a 6.5 year old female staffy. Love her to bits but she is quite cheeky! Needs some extra TLC and understanding as does the dog you are interested in.
In my application I clearly stated that I would not adopt a dog that was aggressive in any way towards humans of any age. I had to think about my own limitations (I am mild mannered and scared of aggressive dogs) and what would happen when family visit my home. I would encourage you to think about what you will and won't accept in a dog and how it will fit into your lifestyle. I felt that a shy, nervous dog that hides is ok, but a dog that bites people out of fear is not ok with me. You may feel differently, and if you have the confidence to handle a dog that is aggressive I admire you.
I have ended up with a wonderful, complex English x American Staffy that makes me laugh (and sometimes shake my head in despair hahaha) and she needs me as much as I desperately need her. She's not what I set our to adopt ( I wanted something easy) but I think she's just what I need 😄
Enjoy the journey! Give your doggo a few months to settle in, it took longer than I expected for mine to call my place home.

Yana :-))

Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Thanks Yana! I adore staffies. The last two dogs I lived with were a pair of English staffies and the one before that an American staffy cross.

They really are the funniest dogs and just love to be with their humans. The dog I mentioned above is a staffy/border collie cross. I have lived with a border collie/kelpie cross before too and she was beautiful.

Like you I would definitely want a more gentle, non-aggressive dog. I didn’t used to think staffies would be my first choice but after living with them it’s like I’m a convert. They are truly loveable and hilarious.

Whatever decision I make I want it to be the best one for both the dog and me. I know too that, like you say, sometimes the dog you end up with is what you need rather than what you thought you would get.

I’m thinking of trying to get some work experience with dogs too, maybe at a nearby kennel, which might help clarify for me if it’s the right time to get a dog and the kind of dog I might get.

Awww you're so lovely! Yeah staffies are a funny thing, I wonder if now that I've owned one I'll always go for that breed. They're so lovable and unique!
I think Border collie/staffy is a lovely breed. When I first brought my staffy home I thought I'd have to send her back to the RSPCA - she escaped to the neighbours yard a few times and she is quite vocal (barks when she wants something). It took longer than I thought for her to settle in and consider us her owners. I really was quite stressed in the first few weeks but I have gotten to know her now and she is lapping up the comforts of being an inside dog. Most adoption agencies will encourage you to bring a dog back if it's not the right fit.
It is a good idea to get some experience through volunteer work, but ultimately if you want a dog you will get one and it will bring a lot of joy.
The most challenging part of dog ownership for me has been walking. Mine pulls and I have a harness to help this.

Hey Eagle Ray...and a wave to Grandy and Yana!

You have a huge heart and welcome!

I love your attitude...The staffies are gorgeous...and even being introverted they will find your heart as long as your are with them all of the time (any adopted/rescue dog)

Ive had chronic anxiety/PTSD for a few decades and I have adopted/rescued and cared for many woofers. They do attach to us despite our own issues as long as we can dedicate our TLC to them on a daily basis..always someone at home and sleeping near the 'pack leader' which would be you 🙂

You are probably more responsible than I have been Eagle Ray. My last rescue dog was chow/german shepherd cross...he was a horse...circa 60 kilos and just passed a year ago....He was also very anxious/timid when he came in here in 2014

If you are available during the day a rescue dog will have the sense of belonging.

Great to have you as part of the forum family Ray

I hope you can stick around


Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Thanks Yana,

It’s good to know your experiences. My landlords who owned the two previous staffies I lived with reckon it’s hard to go back once you’ve had a staffy. It’s like you just fall in love with them. I lived on the same property as them and took care of the dogs when they were away.

They pulled on the lead too and are so strong! They are just so enthusiastic. I remember when one of them was sick I was taking them to the vet, and they thought it was the best adventure, even the one who was sick at the time. They were so happy another person in the waiting room said I have never seen two dogs so happy to be at the vet!

Whatever dog I get they would be an inside dog too. They can sleep in my room if they like. I remember when looking after the two staffies I woke one night wondering if an earth tremor was happening and then realised something was moving under my bed. The boy staffy was scared of the sound of the rain on the metal roof and when I looked down there his wide-eyed face was peering up at me. Of course I gave him lots of pats and reassurance.

Both staffies would bark when they wanted to play a game like tug-of-war. Where I live now I’m in a group of units but do have a backyard with some grass. I’m conscious of potential barking issues in relation to other residents. My neighbour has a dog but I would still need to get permission through the strata company and probably can’t have one who barks a lot. My neighbour’s lovely dog is a staffy x but not really a barker at all.

Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Thanks Paul!

That’s wonderful you’ve had many woofers. 60 kg is massive! He sounds like he was a gentle giant.

Yes, if I get a rescue dog I want to be home for them during the day. That is my life at the moment but my future is a bit uncertain as to whether I’m going back to work and if so when. So I almost feel I need to become clearer about that before committing to a dog, especially a vulnerable rescue dog who will need that secure attachment.

If I did get a job it would be great to have one where I could bring a dog with me, but that may not be possible depending on the job. But I know I’m not able to work more than part-time due to health issues, so they might be ok at home if I’m only away for part of the day.

It’s nice to chat with other people who love doggies 🐶

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Eagle_Ray,

It's so nice of you to want to adopt a dog who needs a home and that you are considering one who hasn't been treated well so you can help to give it a new start at life. I understand wanting to do this, particularly as I'm sure you are quite empathetic given your own PTSD.

May I ask, would you be able to get some extra support if you need it? (Such as sessions with a dog trainer)

I feel like this is worth considering, as if the dog needs special care, it will take the pressure off you a bit if you have some support.

I only ask this as I myself adopted a dog with challenges and it was quite hard to train. For the first 12 months it was quite stressful but we were lucky enough to be able to get a trainer in to help us and I worked from home so I could be there for him as needed. The experience was quite triggering for my mental health during this time - however now that things have settled the dog is a really significant support for my wellbeing so I am glad that I did it.

Let us know how you go.