10 life lessons our rescue dogs have taught us

Our adopters tells us that giving a RSDR street dog a home is such a rewarding experience.  Of course, the dog gets the chance of happiness with their forever family, but our adopters say that they too are so much better off for having their rescue dogs in their lives.  As the days, weeks and months pass, adopter and adoptee get to know each other – and their little ways.  Both their lives are enriched by the lessons they learn from each other. 

Here are some that our adopters have chosen to share.

1. Keep anything chewable at least one and half dog-length’s out of reach

Robbie has already given his top tips on chewing and some of his RSDR chums have taken his advice.

Parsnip & Asha (right)

Parsnip & Asha (right)

Zarich adopted three-legged Asha in the UK (watch Asha’s video story).  She now has a step-brother called Parsnip, the Westie.  Together they have managed to get into a few scrapes and have taught Zarich a few important lessons along the way:

“Do not put the dog chews on the garden table behind a barricade of parcels from the postman – and then go to make a cup of tea. Three-legged wonky donkey *will* remove enough parcels from the table to get at her treat, but will leave the one for the Westie knowing he can’t reach it.”

2. Items left unattended may be repurposed

When Valerie adopted Malcolm, he had to learn his new name Marco and the family had to learn some new ways of doing things.

“Marco has taught my girls (19 and 21) to be tidy.  If they leave something around, he will either eat it or take it down the garden to drop it in the fish pond.  This in turn has taught them to shut doors, put things where they belong and have patience when looking for ‘lost’ items.  It has also taught them to have a sense of humour when they find Chanel make-up matted to Marco’s goatee and lipstick round his teeth, or new dress purchases for a first date unwrapped and ‘tried on’ in the dog bed.  They have got used to looking for a shop in the middle of the night to replace ladies’ personal items which have all been unwrapped and used for a ‘let’s catch the mouse’ game.”

3. Dogs have subtle and not-so-subtle ways of telling us what they want

Zarich knows that when Asha tells her something, she isn’t messing about:

“If she doesn’t want to go up the hill, she knows her one good back leg is tired.  If she barks as you’re going out the front door, she needs a poo.  In the first instance she hobbled all the next day and made me feel like a murderer, and in the second, well, I don’t think that bit of carpet will ever be quite the same colour again!”

Ella Rose

Ella Rose

Ella Rose has her own cheeky way of getting Paula’s attention:

” She steals whatever I am trying to put on that day and is particularly fond of running around the house with my bra in her mouth.  You can imagine the fun and games when I’m late for work, but she always ends up making me laugh.”



4. Cuddles are the best stress-relief

Marco has also been been a welcome emotional support to Valerie:

“He has taught me how to calm down when at times my world spirals downwards. Those beautiful soft eyes that show unconditional trust and love melt my heart and put everything into perspective. The best times are when he stands on his back legs, puts his front paws out for a big cuddle and then nuzzles against my neck. This teaches me to stand still and enjoy every muddy paw, hair up your nose wanting to sneeze, foul breath lick on my face second of it… priceless :-)”

5. It’s ok for Barbie to look different

Our UK-based adoption co-ordinator Tracey has two dogs Dora (RSDR name Oakley) and Dexter (RSDR name Joey) to teach her family some valuable lessons:

“Collectively (they share the task) our dogs have taught my daughters that it’s ok for Barbie to look different and that material things are just that. Our Barbies tend to be missing various parts of their anatomy and my girls have to use imaginative play, like when we find a mauled Ken, Barbie pulls out that nurse outfit and gets to practise real-life skills instead of just looking pretty. A life of risk and adventure not preening for our Barbies!”

6. There is never enough…

When Jan and her partner Bill saw photos of little three-legged Lucy and read her sad story, they just knew that she had to give Lucy a home.  They brought her over from Bulgaria along with her bestie, RSDR rescue dog Freya (RSDR name Delta).  Jan says:

“Our girls are teaching us that there is never enough newspaper.  Freya in particular is teaching me that it doesn’t matter if I twist my ankles, or my poor toes are hurting – I must walk FASTER!  They are also teaching me that there are just not enough hours in the day to love them!  I want more!”

Sophie also adopted a second RSDR rescue dog Renee earlier this year.  Renee now has a new name, Lola, and a happy life in the UK with brother Benji also a RSDR rescue dog:

“Lola has taught me that you can you can never have enough cuddles and that it is perfectly possible to sleep with a dog spread out on top of you!”

7. You need to be on the ball to take a hoover for a walk

It seems that rescue dogs often never outgrow their instinct to forage for food – they have a hard-wired survival instinct.  Walking a rescue dog is always an interesting activity for Paula:

“Used tissues, empty crisp packets, chip bags – Ella Rose picks them all up and trots along with them proudly in her mouth until something more interesting catches her eye.  She can drag me a good 20 yards to something her nose has sniffed out.  It’s particularly interesting on bin day – her best find was half a package of smoked mackerel!  She’s very good though – when I tell her ‘off’ she drops whatever she’s carrying.”

My human has lapses in concentration. Today I ate a sandwich off the street. It looked & tasted like it had been there for days. Yummy!!

Benji x



8. You don’t need a conjurer to change a £10 into something else completely

Who would have thought that a rescue dog would have magical powers?  Well, it seems that some do.  Echo’s adopter Chris is taking better care of her purse these days:

“Echo has very kindly taught us that a £10 note can be miraculously transformed into a myriad of shapes and sizes via her digestive system and deposited in steaming piles around the garden. These smelly scraps have been dutifully collected and reassembled. We are now having a debate as to who of us will brave enough to hand the tenner into the bank!”

9. Steve McQueen on a motorbike can teach a rescue dog nothing 

While she was at the RSDR Shelter, Lola gained a reputation for stress-testing every length of the fence in the compound.  Sophie and Rowan were made aware of her occasional breaks for freedom when they decided to adopt her and they have taken every precaution to keep her safe.  Sophie says:

“We check for possible escape routes out of the garden every day, but she is settling in well and we now let her off the lead when we go out.”

Spiderdog Lola (Renee)

Spiderdog Lola (Renee) at the RSDR Shelter

10. And finally…the love for a dog is unique and irreplaceable

Paula and John said goodbye to their previous dog at the grand old age of 18.  It took them almost two years before they felt ready to adopt another best friend:

“It felt as though it would be a betrayal of Lucy to have a new dog, but as soon as we adopted Ella Rose, we were overwhelmed by a new love.”

Sophie agrees:

“Benji has taught me that you can love another dog, albeit differently, but just as much as one that has left you to cross the bridge.”


RSDR dogs and cats are no different from any other in that they all have their own personalities, their likes and dislikes, their loves and their fears.  If anything, the bond between adopter and adoptee is even stronger because the forever family has decided on their chosen dog from a distance and they have committed to giving their dog (or cat) the best possible life in the UK or the Netherlands.

If you feel that you can give a RSDR dog or cat a loving home, please have a look at the rescues who are currently waiting at the RSDR Shelter for their forever home (there are more than 250 of them!)

Thank you


  1. Stacey troffer · · Reply

    “Dog spread out on top of you”……

    That’s a “blanket” in our house.

  2. Shirley Surmick · · Reply

    All of you rescuers–your angels to these dogs and to myself. Thank you so much for all of your care and love for these animals. Much Love…Shirley Surmick

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: