Are sled dogs adoptable?

Discussion in 'Canine Chat' started by Michele, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. Michele

    Michele Canine Chat Owner Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2010
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    Pet therapist: Are sled dogs adoptable?
    Many humane organizations and adopters of sled dogs argue that sled dogs can be rehabilitated.
    Photograph by: Jens Meyer , AP
    Following the recent closure of the Whistler Sled Dog Company, the question has arisen yet again, are sled dogs adoptable?
    Many mushers continue to advocate that sled dogs do not make good pets. Sled dogs are born and raised for working. Their kennels are a far cry from the comforts of family homes and the hustle and bustle of urban environments. And these dogs are very eager to pull a sled, to the point that missing out on racing could be detrimental to their welfare.
    These points are certainly valid. Still many humane organizations and adopters of sled dogs argue that sled dogs can be rehabilitated. But, what challenges can a prospective adopter expect to face? And why even try?
    Shannon Broderick, Executive Director of the Whistler Animals Galore (WAG) shelter has successfully placed 102 sled dogs over the past 18 months. Shannon currently has 59 dogs still in need of homes, more than half of them senior.
    Shannon has observed first hand that not all sled dogs are the same. Whilst some dogs do require more training and socialization, others transition into their new homes extremely well. They love being with people and other dogs, they are generally good with cats, and in no time at all, they can settle as well as any other dog that is adopted through a shelter.
    Where challenges do exist, Shannon describes three key issues that cause owners concern. First off is house-training. Sled dogs have eaten, slept and eliminated in the same kennel area for their entire lives. Much like adopting a puppy, it takes time, patience and getting to know their routine to train dogs to consistently eliminate outdoors.
    Secondly, not surprisingly, walking a sled dog on a leash can be a struggle. To avoid feeling like Ben-Hur when going for a walk, using a combination of collar and harness and a double-ended training leash are effective at gaining good physical control.
    The third issue facing many retired sled dogs is separation anxiety, but again, this is not insurmountable. The problem arises least often when the adopted sled dog has another dog at home for company. Failing that, the condition can be managed with a behavioural modification program.
    All of these behavioural problems take time, effort and resources to manage, so why would anyone voluntarily take on such a challenge?
    Veterinarian Dr. Megan Atwood, and guardian to two retired sled dogs, agrees that the benefits more than outweigh the costs. The joy of sharing your life with an affectionate, fun canine companion and the sense of having helped an animal in need, are immeasurable. Compatibility between the dog and its owner is vital in making an adoption work. The careful matching process that WAG undertakes, and the pre and post adoption support that they offer, mean that only round pegs are placed in round holes. If you think you have what it takes, then contact to find your match!
    obbanner likes this.

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