“Sorry, she’s a rescue…”

Am I the only one guilty of this transgression?

Relaxing a bit
Pyrrha, circa June 2012. A few weeks after we adopted her. (Check out the pup cooler-raiding in the background.)

Scenario: Your dog has a reactive outburst. Or growls at an approaching toddler. Or does something behaviorally embarrassing to you, the owner. You see the shocked or scared faces of people around you. And so you say, “Oh, sorry about that. She’s a rescue…” by way of explanation.

Excuses, excuses! It’s terrible, I know, but I’m pretty sure this statement has spilled from my lips in a tense public moment with Pyrrha.

It feels like an easy “out,” especially with strangers. They then just seem to think, “Oh, I get it. Your dog has a lot of baggage.” And yes, it’s true: Pyrrha does have a lot of baggage.

But I’m just reinforcing negative stereotypes about rescue dogs whenever I say this. Some rescues are totally issue free. And some aren’t. But I’m adding to this public perception of rescue dogs as damaged goods whenever I say this. And I want to stop.

Better explanations I can issue to strangers, if Pyrrha has an outburst:

  • “I’m sorry about that; she has some fear issues that we are working on.”
  • “I’m sorry; we are working on training her.”
  • “Hope we didn’t scare you; we are working on polite behavior in public!”

Do you ever say this about your dog? Have you found more helpful things to say to people to explain your dog’s sometimes problematic behavior?