JoAnna Lou
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Pondering the Past
Is it better not to know your rescue pup's history?
Who could say no to this pup?!
Who could say no to this pup?!

If you could learn more about your dog's past, would you? Even if it was bad? Recently a friend had the opportunity to find out more about her rescue pup's former life, but was unsure if she really wanted the information. The adoption had taken place years ago and she was afraid the truth wouldn't be pretty. Some friends said it would be useful to know any available information, while others advised her to live in the moment and not to focus on the past.

Since adopting my Border Collie, Scuttle, a year and a half ago, I always wonder what her life was like before she joined my family. Who could give up such a happy, adorable puppy?! My sister thinks I might not want to know, that maybe Scuttle was abused or neglected. This pup loves people more than anything in the world (well maybe second to chasing the cat!) and doesn't act like she was ever hit, but Scuttle did come with some deeply ingrained fear issues. If something startled her, Scuttle would shut down for the whole day. We've since worked to overcome those challenges and she's almost like a different dog today. Looking back, I'm not sure that knowing more about her past would've necessarily helped in our journey.

I have my theories about why Scuttle was given up--certainly her high energy level and potty training difficulties are strong contenders--but learning her history would probably only serve to satisfy my curiosity. Today, the only important fact is that I'm lucky to have her with me now!

Have you ever wanted to know more about your rescue pup's past?

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.
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Submitted by JoYouDog | April 2 2014 |

I wonder a lot. I invent their histories based on their behaviors and emotions. There's no way to find out if I'm right about these rescued dogs, so I just believe the stories I create.

Submitted by Colleen | April 2 2014 |

I have SO often thought about it! I know a few basics about one of my pup from the shelter (his family lost their house in the mortgage crisis and couldn't find an apartment that would allow a dog his size - 100lbs and the shelter said there were lots of tears when he was surrendered) and thats all I really want to know -- I just wish there was a way I could have let them know that he was adopted (not PTS) and that he continues to have a wonderful life ...

Submitted by mc666 | April 7 2014 |

I definitely wonder. The rescue that saved our dog said that she was thrown out of a car. She was also pregnant when they caught her. I can't imagine what her life was like up until that point.

Submitted by Carolyn | April 7 2014 |

Esme, my current dog, was surrendered by her family. She grew up with her sister (whom they kept) and to this day, she is very attracted to white dogs, like her sister. She came to us un-house trained and very wild, no impulse control whatsoever at age 2. I think I have a fairly good idea of her past.

It's my previous dog, Maggie, that I always wondered about. She was found as a stray in a developing country, where we adopted her. She had naturally beautiful manners and learned quickly, always compliant, always wanting to please. A product of a happy home or just a great personality? She feared handheld objects -- a phone, a remote, a camera. She hated fire. Abused or just terrible experiences as a stray? Her teeth were broken and showed some wear patterns -- her vet wondered if she tried to gnaw her way out of a cage. She's gone now, a beautiful gentle soul. How I wonder how she came to us and what her history was.

Submitted by Lee Harrington | April 16 2014 |

Hi Joanna - I have the feeling I'm the friend you are writing about :) The discussion was posted on my Facebook page. I do plan to find out Chloe's history....I just haven't done it yet. But I will be writing about it for sure :)

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