Hilary Swank's Tips for New Adopted-Pet Parents
"I believe it takes about six to eight weeks to really see a dog's personality," Swank tells PEOPLEPets.com "The same goes for any animal. So you should be sure you're allowing enough time to see the pet's persona, and realize that the animal is still decompressing from being in that stressed-out situation at a shelter." She adds that even though your new pet may have its tail wagging, it's still getting to know you, too. "They're trying to understand what you want from them, and trying to please you. They don't want to be bad, or have you angry at them, but it may take them a while to understand what your house rules are."
Swank offers the example of her dog Rumi, whom she adopted a year ago last week. "I went to Italy this August, and brought my dogs with me," she explains. "I went out during the day, and would leave my pups in the villa I rented. According to the staff, Rumi would run into every room looking for me, then run out to the balcony and just howl in frustration." But thanks to her "older sis," 6-year-old pooch Karoo, Rumi learned to feel more comfortable with Swank's absences. "Karoo showed her the ropes – she'd just lay by the door and wait. So now Rumi's learning that I always come back. It just takes time."
The actress also reminds potential pet owners that shelters are full of loving pets – and even some purebreds. "I wondered if people thought shelters only had mangy, kicked-to-the-side-type of pets," Swank says. "And one of my friends said, 'Yeah, that's why I didn't go to a shelter, because that's what I thought it would be like there.' But it's not." In fact, Swank claims that 25 percent of the nearly 8 million animals currently living in shelters are purebred, well-mannered and trained. "It's a difficult time economically, so a lot of people are giving their wonderful animals to the shelters because they just can't keep the anymore," she explains. "You have to go and see for yourself. There are truly so many, that it's hard to come home with just one."
Read more about helping shelter pets on PEOPLEPets.com:
Hilary Swank: Shelter Animals 'Just Want to be Loved'
5 Ways to Help a Rescue Dog Right Now