By: Seth Quick, Adoption & Foster Coordinator
Working as the Adoption and Foster Coordinator at the SPCA Albrecht Center, it is often difficult to get people to see past the way in which some of the shelter dogs present themselves in their rooms. Some dogs demonstrate fretful behaviors such as pacing and jumping up against their doors. Others could be sitting in a corner and not coming forward at all when potential adopters stand at their door.
I’ve observed dogs that I knew to be sweet and good-natured, bark and sometimes even bare their teeth when someone new is at their glass door. As our staff and volunteers work with these dogs daily, we know their personalities and quirks. We know that some of our best dogs are presenting a side of themselves that is not on par with their true nature. Why does this happen?
Dogs might bark loudly; appear to be divorced from their immediate environment; fretful and sad looking, or present other behaviors in a shelter enclosure for various reasons, but one of the most common is fear and uncertainty.
Imagine a parade of strangers coming to your house every day. How would your dog react? Especially if your dog is in a crate. It would be discombobulating to say the least. It is the same for dogs in a shelter. In some cases, dogs here might be a little annoyed at strangers staring at them and might bark to say “Stop please”. Many times, the dogs just want attention outside of their room and will engage in erratic appearing behaviors to get someone to take them out. There could be various other reasons why a shelter dog is acting in a way that makes a potential adopter possibly think negatively of them.
That being said, time and time again dogs that have not presented themselves in the best light at first glance have been adopted and proven to be the best pets. Take a dog named Firetruck for example: This is a dog that often backed away or barked loudly at strangers who approached his glass door. He was very shy and uncertain with people, especially new men. Firetruck’s adopters (like us) saw that ‘je ne sais quoi’ essence in him, so they adopted him. And they couldn’t be happier with their choice. He’s proven to be the amazing dog we knew he could be.
Two more great examples are shelter dogs Dwight and January (two of my favorites) who both would growl and bark ferociously at strangers who stopped by their door. Outside of their rooms January was a doll baby who loved to play, and Dwight was a big cat-loving goofball. They were both adopted and their new parents think the world of them.
And lastly Diamond; a dog who is currently spotlighted on our SPCA Dog Fostering Facebook page. Here at the shelter, Diamond was known for screaming whenever someone walked by her room. But her foster family reports that she is a smart, playful, very well behaved, house broken and a loving, calm dog in their home.
So, the next time you are looking to adopt at the SPCA Albrecht Center or any animal shelter, please bear in mind that the dogs you are seeing could be in distress. The dog of your dreams might be the fretful (but well behaved and squeaky loving) guy in the corner, like our Kharmine, or it might be the constantly jumping at his door (but loves everybody and super smart) Quartz.
We are here to help, so let the adoption staff know what you are looking for in a dog, so that we can match you up with dogs who have the temperament, energy and other characteristics that you want in a dog. Here at the SPCA Albrecht Center we strive to get to know our dogs to the best of our ability so we can help our potential adopters find the best match. This helps ensure that when our dogs leave our care, they are going to their true forever home.
If you would like to help our shelter dogs while they await adoption by fostering them in your home, please follow our Dog Fostering Facebook page for information. You can also sign up to foster at LetLoveLive.org/foster.
With over 4.5 years as the Adoption Coordinator at the SPCA Albrecht Center, Seth Quick recently expanded his role to include coordinating the dog Foster program. A Georgia State University psychology graduate, Seth spent 22 years in Atlanta aiding individuals with developmental disabilities. Now in Aiken for the past five years, his off-duty passions include family history research, vegan cooking, fitness, and playtime with his two SPCA rescue dogs. For more on dog fostering, visit: Dog Fostering- SPCA Albrecht Ctr on Facebook.