IS AN AIREDALE THE RIGHT MATCH FOR YOUR FAMILY?

I call it a “matchmaking” service when we, as rescue volunteers, decide which waiting rescued Airedale to place with which approved waiting adoptive family.  One of the most common questions newly approved applicants will ask of volunteers is:  “When will we get an Airedale?”   I make it a point to clearly explain that we do not place rescues on the basis of the next available rescue going to the next waiting family on our list.  It simply does not work that way.  We need to carefully analyze the needs, strengths and weaknesses of the rescue with those of the waiting family.  Naturally we don’t place a shy and nervous rescue with an extremely busy family with rambunctious young children.  That could be overwhelming to the nervous dog who would probably be more comfortable with a single owner or a couple who would provide a more quiet and settled lifestyle.  A lively rescue who loves children and lots of activity would do best if placed with a family with young children and a big fenced yard for playing.  Placing an energetic young rescue with a senior couple will probably be too demanding for the couple while not allowing enough active playtime for the dog.  This is not difficult to figure out, is it?

First of all, we really need to determine if the family who has never had an Airedale is really a good candidate for one of our rescued Airedales.  When we tell folks that terriers are lively and need lots of exercise, how can we tell if that applicant really comprehends what “lively” and “lots of exercise” means in regard to a terrier?  It might be completely different from what the family, who has not been exposed to terrier energy, thinks it means.

Years ago, while doing Airedale rescue in Florida, I devised a fun quiz to help applicants determine for themselves (and for me) if they really qualify as terrier ownership material.   The quiz is designed to be fun, but in reality will serve a good purpose in weeding out applicants that may not know what “terrier people” really means.  I’ve pulled out that quiz and want to share it with our new volunteers now.  Copy the following and insert it into your Presentation Notebook that we discussed in an earlier article.


Is an Airedale the right match for you and your family?

If you’ve had an Airedale before, you’re familiar with the fun-loving personality of this breed.  You know an Airedale is smart, curious and strong-willed.  You also know he needs owners who are capable of and willing to do obedience training with their Airedale if they expect to have a well-mannered canine companion.  For those who have not lived with an Airedale as a member of their family, please read on.

Undoubtedly you’ve heard this many times:  “This breed is not for everyone.”  This phrase is often repeated, and there is a valid reason for doing so.  Each breed has their own typical characteristics.  When you’re looking for a dog to be part of your family, you want one that best fits your family’s lifestyle.

In general, an Airedale tends to be:

  • More energetic rather than being more laid back
  • More independent rather than being obedient
  • More dominant rather than being more submissive
  • More spirited rather than being more docile
  • Happier as an inside dog, being part of the family, rather than living outside

The Airedale is often called a clown because of his wonderful sense of humor.  He is intelligent, and he likes to be the leader.  An Airedale is curious and will want to be part of everything that goes on in your family.  When you walk into the house with a bag of groceries, he will want to stick his nose into the bag to see what you bought!  He will want to interact with all your guests, and may be quite insulted if not allowed to do so.

To test yourself to see if you are “An Airedale Type Person.” take this fun test.

  • Your Airedale has discovered the door stoppers on the floors in your home.  He’s learned to pull the springs back so they make that wonderful “boingy “ noise when released.  Do you:     
    • Scold him for daring to have fun with this “new toy”?
    • Remove the door stoppers while he’s not looking and worry about it     later.
    • Get your harmonica and join in the music making.
  • Your Airedale leaves puddles of water all over the floor as he makes multiple passes by the water bowl, and then lovingly places his very wet beard in your lap as you sit quietly reading.  Do you respond by:    
    • Grabbing the scissors and cutting off his beard and whiskers.
    • Putting his bowl outside and allow him to only drink there.
    • Smiling to yourself, thinking, “That’s my boy!” while getting the towel you keep handy for that purpose.
  • Your Airedale puppy is digging holes in your garden.  Do you:      
    • Cry and scream because your perfect garden is disturbed.
    • Never let the dog into the yard again.
    • Realize that it is normal for terrier to dig, so train the pup to dig only in “his” designated area.
  • You’re in the bathroom and your Airedale insists on joining you.  Do you:      
    • Insist this is totally improper, scold him for not staying out of the way and promptly lock him in his crate for punishment.
    • Give in.  Leave the bathroom door open.
    • Accept his company and figure this is a good time to have him practice his sit and stay commands.

If you selected the first choices above in each of the situations given, we definitely suggest you continue your breed search because we don’t feel an Airedale is the right breed for you.  However, if you’re still grinning and laughing at the imagined scenes, stay with us... this just might be the right breed for you!

In most cases we find that an Airedale needs the benefit of a fenced yard in which to exercise and play.  Our experience has shown that in many cases electronic fences are not always satisfactory to contain Airedales, therefore we prefer to have barrier fences.  Airedales do require regular grooming to look their best and keep their coats in good condition.  They require regular brushing and need to be professionally groomed 4 to 6 times annually.  Owners can learn to groom their own dogs.

We want to make a good match between the rescue Airedale and the Waiting Family.  To do that, we consider many things, such as (but not limited to):

  • Do you have other pets in your home, and if so, are those pets good with other dogs?
  • Is this rescue Airedale good with other pets?
  • Do you have children in your family, and is this dog good with children?
  • Is the waiting family willing to obedience train the rescue, if needed?
  • If the family has requested a young rescue, does their lifestyle provide them enough time with the dog to give him the required attention, exercise and obedience training?
  • If all adults in the family are employed, how many hours will the dog be left alone?

Put this quiz in your PRESENTATION NOTEBOOK for easy reference.  You can make copies of the quiz so each applicant is able to do the quiz and retain it for later reference.

You can also give the quiz verbally and watch the applicant’s reaction to the responses to the questions.  Keep it casual, make it fun, and you will learn much just by “reading” the applicant as they do the test. As a new volunteer, you will be learning more with every interview, and this quiz will help you to more quickly gain valuable experience.  Expand upon the quiz with some of your own quiz questions and answers.  As Airedale owners we all have lots of material to work with!

Note: Comments and feedback on these articles, plus suggestions for future articles are always welcome!

ART Newsletter Copyright 2010 by Sally Schnellmann and National Airedale Rescue.  Reproduction in whole or in part is forbidden without the publisher's written permission.

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National Airedale Rescue, Inc., is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation and is the Official Treasury of the Airedale Terrier Club of America (ATCA) Rescue & Adoption Committee. Funds donated to National Airedale Rescue, Inc. are distributed on an as-needed basis to Airedale Rescue volunteers and groups who have agreed to abide by the Airedale Terrier Club of America Rescue & Adoption Committee policies and guidelines.

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