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Advice re: newly adopted adult Cairn


JenniferB
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Hi Everyone,

 

I just joined the forum -- we adopted a seven-year-old black and gray Cairn from our local shelter on Saturday. He's a sweet little guy. He originally came in as part of a pair who had been together from the time he was little. She was about 8 years old, and our local shelter allowed them to be adopted out separately (she was placed first).

 

A year and a half ago, they both landed at a large animal shelter after the illness or death of their original owner, then were placed with a family for seven months (who cited "moving" as the reason for sending them back to the shelter), then with an elderly woman for four months here (who had health issues). She surrendered both of them to our local shelter a few weeks ago.

 

He's kind of an unusual little guy from what I've been reading about Cairns. He likes being groomed, comes when he's called, wants to cuddle, and is trying his hardest to fit in with our "pack." I have a 7-year-old medium-sized heeler mix girl and they are starting to connect. He sleeps a lot, likes to cuddle and to play with his new toy, enjoys chasing his ball, and we've started regular walks twice a day. He seems to like us (and he likes the food here) but still seems sad. It's going to take some time. 

 

Can you give me any general advice we should know starting with an adult, and also in helping him cope with the loss of his best friend and being bounced around so much? Whenever he hears a little dog bark in the neighborhood, he looks for her. The local family who adopted her tried to adopt both of them, but this little guy barked at their male Papillon, and the family assumed they wouldn't get along. I don't think they made much of an effort to see if that could change. Shelter staff told me that apparently she is getting along just fine in her new family, but I wonder if they're right about that. How do Cairns deal with grief and loss? And, what should I know starting out that you wish you had known when you got your first Cairn? 

 

Thanks!

 

Jennifer

 

 

 

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Idaho Cairns

Well, I hate to say this but each time we have had a loss, the surviving Cairn seemed to suffer--if not "grief" as we understand the term then the loneliness of being the sole dog.  All of them spent inordinate time staring down the sidewalk or at the door--waiting.  Fortunately for you and your rescue, there are other dogs in the family and I am sure that helps the adjustment enormously.

From what I have seen in terms of Cairns bonding with other Cairns, I would never advise ANYONE to split a pair--especially after several years--our girls depend on each other, communicate constantly with each other, take each other's back when necessary, they react exactly the same way, if there is such a thing as a canine alter-ego, our girls each have one of the other in them.  Makes me sad that the shelter would do this to any pair of dogs raised together.

As far as what you can do to alleviate your Cairn's "missing", "grief", "loneliness", "friendship" or what ever it is that dogs share, probably not much--as separation is cured in humans, you have to let time ease the pain.  Give your Cairn a good home, share your life with him, love him, take care of him--that's all you can do and that really is plenty. 

Don't set your watch by what you are seeing this soon after bringing the dog in your home.  We have adopted  adult Cairns and have found what we initially see in the Cairn's behavior often changes substantially as the months pass.  As I have often advised those who rescue Cairns, "What you have now is NOT the Cairn you are going to have six months to a year from now!"  Be patient, this is a great breed of dog, fun, loving, smart as the dickens, and exciting to be around, you are going to love owning this little guy.

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While it's sad that they were separated, it does sound like your guy is doing very well!  Is it possible to get together with his buddy's new owners for play dates? What's his name?

 

I've adopted 2 adult Cairns. Zekey was young, 1 year old when I got him. He was left at the SPCA due to a child's allergy. I did notice on walks around the neighborhood that his ears would perk up when he heard children playing -- I'm sure he missed having young, active kiddies to play with and being in a busy household. But he seemed to bond instantly to me and enjoys his new life.

 

Gavin was 7, and I think had several homes. He was very reserved and took a lonnnnng time to come out of his shell, but having Zekey as a buddy helped. 

 

Welcome to the group -- post pics when you can!

Edited by Zekey's Mom
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Hiya Jennifer and welcome!

 

I hate reading about dogs who are shifted from one home to another. I know things happen in life that are unavoidable, but is makes me sad when "things happen" over and over again to the same dog.

 

When we got Lola, we were the third family she was with within 6 weeks. She, too, left a sibling. The original family split them up because (we were told) they fought a lot. Lola seemed to fit in right away and was on her best behavior - (because she so desperately wanted to stay?) Still at times we could tell she was a bit sad, nervous and uneasy. I don't feel under the circumstances that she missed her sibling, but she did seem to be "looking" at times.  I think the fact that you have another dog will greatly help to ease your little guy's missing his sister.

 

I took to heart Idaho's statement about not having the same dog you have now in 6 months to a year. It is very true. My husband had never had a terrier before and was exasperated by her stubbornness and high-energy. Now she is his shadow, his little buddy, and he cradles her on the couch at night. Cairns (and in my case, their cousin, a Westie) seem highly adaptable. They will go with the flow and fit in. They might change you - and your other dog - along the way, but they'll find their place.

 

Please let us know your dogs' names and post pics when you can!

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bless you for taking in this little prince. no wonder he's sad --i'm sad just thinking of him being separated from his sister. but dogs are great survivors, and most of them have to deal with this kind of loss at some point in their lives. some temporary withdrawal is normal, some loss of interest in play or family. he may be thinking carefully about how to fit into your family. it wouldn't surprise me if he were afraid of making a mistake. but once he figures it out, and become confident, who knows. he may remain an easy guy, he might be  overcome by true cairnness and try a power play or two. but he clearly has a heart of gold and is lucky to have finally landed with you. he deserves a family, and stability and happiness, and i think he will get there --maybe faster than you think. he knows he is lucky.

Edited by pkcrossley
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Welcome. So great you could give this little guy a home.

I agree dogs do seem to feel loss in some way. We haven taken two retrievers on different occasions years ago. They both took time to adjust to their new home. Other dogs being there helped. We just included them in our regular life and as the months went by they seemed to relax and become part of our pack.

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So glad this dog was adopted by youl They are wonderful dogs and will fit into family. Hope all goes well, Keep us up to date and sends pictures if possibe. We love to see all pics.

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Welcome to the forum!  Bless you for adopting this little guy and caring for him so well.  From you description it sounds like he's already settling in.  Take it slow, give him plenty of love and reassurance and he'll blossom in no time.

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Thanks for adopting him!  What did you name him?  He undoubtedly is feeling misplacement and loss.  I am glad you have other dogs.  I would make some special time for him for cuddling, petting, playing - just love him up so he knows this is where he belongs. :hug:  Anytime you can pop us a pic we would love it.  Good luck and keep in touch. 

Elsie, Max, Meeko & Lori

 

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I cannot add much to the good advice you have been given here, but thank you so much for taking this little fellow into your home. I do believe that, given time, he will settle in and become a great dog for you. I do think it is a good sign that he is connecting with your other dog. 

 

Glad you are here on Cairntalk.  This is a great group of folks and a steady place to come for advice and also to share the wonderful experiences we have with our pups.

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Bless you for taking this little man in and giving him a real forever home. 

 

You've received some great advice from people far more experienced with this than I am. 

 

I will say that I lost a Maltese to a coyote and his sister (same litter) was left behind. They weren't terribly affectionate towards one another, but she did spend about a week or two staring out the back door waiting for him to come home. As Idaho said, with time she got used to being the only dog. I think it helped that I absolutely smothered her with extra love and affection. 

 

I adopted my Cairn Addie as a puppy (11 1/2 weeks) but she was a puppy mill rescue. Her mom was so sick Addie didn't get to nurse and was taken from her mom right away. She got very close to her litter mates as they were all each other had those first couple months. I was worried she'd be desperately sad without them, but she adjusted the first night. She got very, very attached to me during the 8 1/2 hour car trip home and didn't let me leave her sight without screaming bloody murder for about the first year. Now (almost age 3) it's a battle getting her to let me even hold her, she's Little Miss Independent. 

 

I think your best plan of action is to smother him with all the love he wants to let him know it's his forever home. I'm sure having other dogs will help ease his loneliness. 

 

There are lots of rescues on this forum and they all seem to have adjusted well to their new lives. It will take time, but I think you're going to hit the dog jackpot eventually, having a Cairn and a dog thankful for the stability you're giving him. 

"as far as i am concerned cairns are the original spirit from which all terriers spring, and all terriers are cairns very deep down inside." pkcrossley

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Awww! He sounds like such a sweet little guy. It is wonderful that he has found his forever home with you. I have been told that cairns are one of the most adaptable breeds. Our groomer told me that she once dogsat for a cairn whose family was distraught bc when they came to pick him up he was thriving in his new environment. They expected him to be a little sad while they were away. LOL! I think having another dog in the house will really help him figure things out. Enjoy and please keep us posted.

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Welcome!  Thank you for giving this guy a new home, he will repay you with years of pleasure.  We have had cairns (2 at a time) for many years and have seen the lose they experience when one passes.  All I can say is they do get over it with time.  Fortunately for your new buddy, you do have other pets that he can create a bond with.  I would love to see pictures of him, he sounds like a gentle, loving cairn.

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Bless you for adopting this sweet little boy, Jennifer.  When we adopted our little Cairn, Murphy, he had been boarded with a little Miniature Schnauzer named Ike who was rescued during Hurricane Ike.  We couldn't adopt Ike even though he and Murphy were bonded.  Murphy seemed sad for a little while, but not for long. He decided the best way to get himself out of the doldrums was to "herd" our black lab, Gracie, around the backyard each time they went out to play.  Yes, that's right.  Herding Gracie became his new job - and she didn't seem to mind.  Nowadays, they are best friends.  I am sure your two will also be bonded before you know it!  :)

Edited by BetsyNoodle
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Thank You Everyone, for your warm replies and encouragement!  

 

I've already contacted the shelter and asked them to give my name and number to the other family who has Molly. I suggested the idea of playdates. I also asked that if for some reason they can't keep her, to please call us first. I haven't heard anything back yet but hope they will respond.

 

We still need to take him to the vet and get a checkup -- any advice for things to watch for? We don't see many Cairns here, so they might not be familiar with breed-specific issues. 

 

The other shelter he went through in 2012 and 2013 is faxing me his medical records (by my count, we are family #4 for this little guy, and most of his medical care has come from the shelter). I think he is definitely studying us and trying to fit in. The name he came with is Earl...we might end up with Early as a compromise, although it rhymes a bit too much with Squirrel for Maya. :-)  I took them to the dog park yesterday and got a glimpse of Cairn...he dove in with unbridled enthusiasm and wanted to play with everyone :-)  At one point, he was in the center of about six bigger dogs and loving every minute of it. He's like a rough and tumble social butterfly.  I kept a close eye on him just in case, but the other dogs seemed to love his joy and enthusiasm. He rode home in the back seat with a big happy grin on his face. Tonight, Maya let him cuddle with her for awhile  -- I think she's sort of taken aback by his wanting to connect so much, but she seems to like him, and they walk well together.  I think lots of walks, exploring, and social contact will be very good for both of them. 

 

I'm not quite sure how to add a picture to the gallery -- but here he is in my profile picture. His back end is mostly gray and the groomer didn't quite get the cut right -- I was more concerned with him having a good experience, so I told her to take it easy the first time. 

Edited by JenniferB
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So glad to hear he has found such a wonderful family with you. I think his biggest asset in this major change in his life is your Maya, and his love of other dogs. Hopefully Maya can give him confidence and the knowledge that his new family is a loving family that won't cast him aside like so many others have. Brings tears to my eyes knowing he has a good home with your family. 

 

As for pictures, you can upload them by clicking "More Reply Options" at the bottom of a post, and then clicking "Choose File" and selecting the picture you want to upload, and then clicking "Attach This File". There is a limit of 500KB upload per post. 

 

There are other ways to attach photos (like the gallery) and through places like Flickr, but the way I explained is the easiest route for me. 

Edited by _whits_

"as far as i am concerned cairns are the original spirit from which all terriers spring, and all terriers are cairns very deep down inside." pkcrossley

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As for health issues to watch out for, the Cairn Terrier Club of America has a page dealing with Cairn Health Concerns (http://www.cairnterrier.org/health). From what I've gathered on this forum and through the rescue I adopted Addie from, the main issues that seem to crop up occasionally are allergies (particularly food allergies, to grains) and luxated patellas. On the whole, Cairns are quite a hearty breed, and I think I lot of that has to do with the fact that they are bred more for their attitude and behavior and less for their looks (with almost all color combinations and a wide range of weights acceptable under AKC standards). 

 

Would love to see a picture of your Maya too. I have a special spot in my heart for non-Cairn siblings on this forum. They put up with a lot being ruled by small dogs with such big attitudes. :)

Edited by _whits_

"as far as i am concerned cairns are the original spirit from which all terriers spring, and all terriers are cairns very deep down inside." pkcrossley

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Hi Jennifer and welcome to the forum!  Thank you for adopting this sweet little boy, it's so sad to hear that he's been shipped around 4 different times, poor baby.  I'm sure that he's going to be very happy in his new home and it sounds like he's off to a great start.  Looking forward to seeing lots of pictures of Early.

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I loved reading your story about going to the dog park (brought tears to my eyes) to hear how much fun Earl was having with all the big dogs.  They really believe they are large dogs.   Good luck at the vets.

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Aww. I'm so glad you're here to share your story with us. I'm also really glad this adorable boy finally has a forever home.

Allergies and skin irritations like bumps and itching seem to be the only issues my Nikki has and he's nine years old. He's always been a happy-go-lucky, playful, adaptable, loyal, and independent-thinking little pal for me and it sounds like Early is shaping into the same little pal for your family. :)

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Congratulations on the new addition to your family. Early will soon realize he's not going anywhere. :).

Enjoy his sweetness and the spunkiness (you saw at the dog park).

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At one point, he was in the center of about six bigger dogs and loving every minute of it. He's like a rough and tumble social butterfly.

 

 

What a great description of the Cairn. Welcome to the forum.

 

This post makes me think their really is a Cairn Guardian Angel. Somehow orphaned Cairns find their way to the right people like you. Early is a good name, but you may find yourself  saying "Yes Your Lordship Sir Earl."

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