It’s only day 4

Hi friends,

A rescue dog isn’t for everyone. It’s clear to me now how much effort goes into making it “work”. Worthwhile work, but not for everyone. I’ve been an animal rescue advocate my whole life, and this is the first time I’ve welcomed an adult dog into our little pack. Let me explain – It’s been a tough transition for me, and by all accounts Bruno is a gem. It’s not his fault. You don’t know, what you don’t know. The transition can be a tough process for all, I have to work at staying consistent and rewarding all the good behaviors. I’m jumping the gun a bit, I know… it’s only day 4.


First impressions of Bruno


  • He’s sweet
  • He’s good with other dogs
  • not destructive in the house
  • adores people including kids
  • Not motivated by food (How is this possible for a Bernese?)
  • loves a great couch cuddle
  • eats and sleeps fine.


So, you ask – what’s are the issues?

It’s not the anxiety, it’s not the indoor marking, it’s not the fact that he doesn’t know his own name or has zero recall (after all he doesn’t know us enough to come back to us…). These things do not intimidate me, it’s within my comfort zone to work with him on all of these. 


The kicker? He doesn’t like cats. We were told he did, and that he co-existed with cats at his foster mamas. Maybe it’s just our cats, they’re jerks after all.


I know I’m not helping the situation here, I’m an overprotective mother bear about my two indoor cats. I see a dog snapping at them and I worry about their safety instead of allowing them to handle themselves in a safe environment.  I’m making it emotional and it shouldn’t be. Knowing and doing are totally different beasts entirely.


I need to adjust my mentality pronto.


So far, we’ve been keeping them separated by a baby gate when we’re home so they can see and smell each other. At some point, despite the snapping,  we have to start the proximity training without the gate. I can see the “leave it” command being very popular over the next few weeks.


Bringing an adult dog home that has been in four homes over his four years, has proved to be a very different experience then bringing home a 10 week old puppy. Some things I was ready for, some I definitely wasn’t.


Unfair to Bruno to say the least to compare the two experiences, but in truth – that’s all we know. My family had rescue dogs, but all from puppies. We had Newton from a puppy. It’s a very different experience. 


It’s not an immediate connection, as I don’t trust him yet, and I suppose I didn’t expect that. I feel bad admitting its not an instant mushy kind of love.


I’ve always been able to trust my dogs in the past. I see now that I had unrealistic expectations of how I thought it was going to go from the start. I now see that this will take time –  slow and steady we will bond, slow and steady he will learn to co-exist (or ignore) the cats. Slow and steady we will come to love and trust each other. After all, it’s what Bruno deserves. 



At the end of the day, Bruno has all the potential in the world, we just have to learn how to let him shine in his own way. I’m getting that. I have a feeling he’ll be teaching me, as much as we will him in the coming months. A reminder to myself to stop freaking out.. it’s only day 4.



5 thoughts on “It’s only day 4

  1. You’re doing an awesome job. Never easy to make a transition like this, but hopefully your continued efforts will show through the more time you spend together. Like you said, only day four of a big adjustment. Good luck!

  2. Hang in there! I know that this will come as quite a shock to you–especially having followed Harper Lee’s blog for a while–but I (her human mommy) did not have an immediate connection to her either. In retrospect, I think I kept looking at her and wanting to see Talbot, our first Golden Retriever. And then one day I looked at Harper Lee, saw nothing but Harper Lee, and fell in love. It will happen for you and Bruno, too. One day, we’d like to add an older adult rescue Golden Retriever to our family, so I am really looking forward to following Bruno’s assimilation into your family. One day, you’ll be at Day 400 and everyone will be in a routine that will seem like it’s been there since Day 1, I just know it. 🙂

  3. Deep cleansing breaths! As someone who has taken in many ‘adult’ dogs I have bad news and good news. It might get a tad more overwhelming before it gets better BUT what you are going through is totally normal and it does get better. The first few weeks are full of frustrations, and ‘what have we done’ and ‘wait, is the dog doing worse today?’. But then around one month in, you just sort of settle in, hunker down and you start to feel the love and the reward.

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