Can’t Adopt Yet? Help By Spending Quality Time With A Rescue Dog

If you love dogs but are not in a position to adopt at the moment, there is a way you can build a special relationship with a rescue dog, spend time with them, take them for walks, and enjoy their company. They’ll gain valuable socialization skills and return your love in spades. This kind of individualized attention will do wonders for the dog, but you’ll be amazed at how good you’ll feel too!

Diva the seven-year-old English bulldog is having trouble finding her forever home

I first noticed Diva, the seven-year-old English bulldog mix, when I was working the front desk at the Rescue Ranch Adoption Center, in Yreka. She had an unusually raspy bark and always looked a bit sad in her kennel. I noticed that she had some skin issues and an eye irritation that the staff were working hard to mitigate through dietary adjustments.

I asked about her, and learned that she was a great dog but had some socialization issues. She was not having much luck getting adopted, and had already been returned several times. In one case, she came back  because she doesn’t get along with cats. In another, she was doing well initially, but she had a strong reactive response to an unexpected noise and a new element in her environment. This was too much for her adopters, and she was returned again.

It seemed that she was going to need a very special person who could give her time, patience, and love, in a cat-free and, ideally, stress-free, single dog environment, where she could thrive.

Volunteer Mt. Shasta couple spends quality time with Diva at Rescue Ranch

Chris and Marni Wroth, of Mount Shasta, California, lost their elderly retriever and pit bull, who were very close, within a month of each other last winter. After a while, Chris and Marni thought it was time to perhaps add a new dog to their household. Maybe a friend for their other dog Ollie. That’s when they initially met Diva, who had yet to experience her latest adoption fail described above.  They weren’t sure it would work out, but after bringing Ollie for a “meet and greet” at the ranch, they decided it was worth a try. Unfortunately for them, by then another adopter had beaten them to the punch.

So Chris and Marni adopted Willie, a small, male Chihuahua mix, instead. When I interviewed them, Marni said she had wanted a larger female, but does not regret going home with Willie, who has turned out to be a wonderful dog.

Then one day, they noticed that Diva was back at the ranch again! That was shortly after her most recent return.  Of course, now Marni and Chris felt terrible for Diva, who was back in her lonely kennel.

They weren’t, and are still not, sure how well she would do in their home with their other dogs. It might work out fine, but it might not, and they couldn’t bear the thought of having to return her. They did want to do something, though, to help get her socialized, and let her know that she is loved. So, they started to visit her regularly at the ranch.

At first they just took out for walks on the path just outside the Rescue Ranch gate. “When we first started coming, she didn’t seem to be that much into walking, now she’s warmed to [it],” says Marni.

Then they heard about Starbuck’s “puppucino” and decided to take Diva out for a drive and a treat, to see if she would enjoy it. She did!

Marni tells it this way: “ I saw a lot of dogs in cars that go to Starbucks, and […] I didn’t know, I thought,  ‘what is that about?’ and the next thing I knew was, oh, you could go to Starbucks! So, I called […] and they said, ‘yeah, you come in and get a puppucino, and I thought , ‘oh that’s something to do with her!’ You know, for her to like us a little bit [more] and, you know, and get to know us. And she started going and she really enjoyed the puppucinos. So that’s how it started.”

Diva the rescue bulldog loves her regular walks and “puppucino” outings

Now when they come visit, Marni gets in the back of the car and Diva just jumps in and puts her head on Marni’s lap. Chris drives them all to Starbucks. Sometimes they’ll do the drive through, and sometimes they’ll park while Chris goes inside for their coffees. When he places his order he a asks for a free “puppucino,” which Chris describes as, “a little whipped cream in a [paper or plastic] cup,” adding that “I usually get a chocolate croissant, you know, so, it’s not like we suffer through it.

Diva laps up her puppucino, and they all  enjoy their snack together. Then they drive back to the ranch for Diva’s walk. She has a wonderful time in their company and they give her the affection she so clearly deserves.

I asked them how long they had been visiting Diva and they said about three months. Chris describes the experience like this “ You know, it’s fun […]  Unfortunately [for Diva]  we may be doing it for a while ’cause I don’t know, she’s kind of getting less and less adoptable as time goes on.[But] It’s kind of a recreational thing for us […] more people should do it.”

Marni and Chris are right, Diva is struggling to find a forever home. But I have noticed an improvement in her behavior and mood since they started visiting her. She obviously enjoys their company and is benefitting greatly from the interaction. They seem to be having fun too!

They’re also right when they say that more people should do it. In other words, more people should spend time with a dog, even if they aren’t in a position to adopt. It’s a wonderful way to support Rescue Ranch, but, more importantly, it’s a gift to the dogs. What a great way for dogs and dog-people to spend some quality time together outside!

If you’re interested in volunteering, fostering, or helping one special dog, start with a visit to Rescue Ranch. Meet the staff, get to know some of our dogs, and take it from there. We’re open 12 p.m.-4 p.m., seven days a week!

Natalie Golay