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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Adding New Pack Members Safely

Above is a photo of our new pack member Bozley which is not to be confused with our long term pack member Bozwell. Now this could be considered confusing since we call both Boz but when I call one they both come. Having once volunteered for a German Shepherd Dog rescue I am on several social media venues and recently read about this heartbreaking case where a single mother and her 16 y/o daughter were being forced out of their rental condo as the owner wanted it for other purposes. Rentals in the Denver area are scarce and hard to find and they finally found one but it would not allow large dogs. They found a family that was suitable to adopt Bozley but at the very last moment the family backed out. They were left with 2-3 days to re-home Boz and were beside themselves. 

They adopted Boz two years ago from a shelter where he was housed. He was in bad shape being emaciated and his bones sticking out. He had apparently given up on life and touched their hearts as they pestered the shelter until they were allowed to adopt him. They nursed him back to health and restored his will to live. He was a valued family member whom they were devastated to have to re-home. They were looking for a foster and I contacted a mutual friend and agreed to take him. After it was clear that we wanted to adopt him and not foster him and several conversations with the owner of Boz the plan was established and the deal set. 

The owner transported him to us on a Saturday and spent the afternoon with us and our three family members of the four footed variety. We learned Boz was 8 y/o and had been found as a starving stray and taken to the shelter. The previous owner was contacted and the shelter was instructed that they did not want him back. Now he was being re-homed again. Losing your family twice (possibly more) is devastating on a dog. He has now known three families - one who didn't want him and probably neglected or abused him, the second who loved him completely but were forced to re-home him and now us. Fortunately the second family loved him so much they wanted what was right for him and in the two years they had him they restored his health and confidence which makes our job easier. 

While I wrote an article for Mother Earth News magazine about how to properly introduce a new dog to your pack it does take time and a lot of effort. You can see the article at:

It can be difficult to introduce a new member to a well established pack but if done right it usually goes easily. It can take weeks and Boz seems to be adapting at a rapid rate. The entire process is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, taking one piece at a time until you have them all together revealing a full and complete picture. There can be progress one day and set backs the next. You want your pack to maintain its stability while at the same time easing the new member into the pack with the least stress possible maintaining your alpha status for all members. It is really quite easy but you need to be constantly vigilant of your pack and the new member without being overly protective of any single family member. I'm happy to say for the most part the process has gone well and we are very happy over the bonding process that has taken place. Our pack members age getting to know Boz and so are we and he is getting to know us. He is going to be a delight to have as a family member and we are impressed with him in a most favorable way. 

Any dog who has had at least 3 or more families can be insecure and confused. Boz is adapting well and much of it has to do with the process of how they are initially introduced. Perhaps some reading this blog will take heed and rescue a dog themselves with assurance that the introduction if handled properly will give them a cherished family member. Welcome Boz, you have in three days thoroughly worked your way into all our hearts. You are resilient and a truly great family member who rounds out our family in every way. 

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Nicely written, Bruce!