That time of the year approaches quickly once more and thoughts turn to having a festive season of fun, happiness and enjoyment of other peoples company. All honourable thoughts to have as we all hope to surface from the pandemic over the last eighteen months or so.
I might as well put this comment out there now. Please don’t buy or rescue puppies or older dogs unless you understand the consequences of what you are considering. Many dogs were bought or rescued during the throes of the pandemic and, whilst some of those dogs remain in safe secure environments, there is now a growing and worrying trend of them being taken to rescue organisations for re-homing as human circumstances revert to something akin to normality. Worse still there is a rise in dogs being dumped and left to fend for themselves. This isn’t just puppies but older dogs who need medication and have experienced a home environment for many years. We are a commitment not a passing whim.
I was rescued just before Christmas in 2013. My parents came to see me three times before they decided to give me a forever home. Each time they walked me, they asked questions of the rescue people, they listened to the rescue centre and then thought about it even further. They researched vet bills, food costs, leads and harnesses, beds and toys. They looked at where we would walk, if there were enough paths and trails, whether they would be home, how much would kennelling cost and if their jobs would mean them being away for any length of time. They researched the breed traits, energy levels and where the good or bad aspects were. They even looked at the availability and costs of things like holidays with me, in case I couldn’t be placed temporarily in kennels whilst they were away. When I arrived from the rescue centre I had no idea what was going on and it took me around eighteen months to settle into my new home. I was skittish, distracted and sometimes thoroughly distant and aloof. The number of times that worry or frustration was evident was sadly high. I didn’t really connect with them in the first year or so. They tried to implement a routine for me but I remained skittish and distant. However, and this is the most important thing, they never ever gave up. They never wanted to send me back. Even when I was destroying toys at alarming speed due to frustrations on my part, I was still a work in progress but they remained determined to work with me. They had committed to me having a better life and it occurred to them that if I was returned, it was a waste of time and effort on everybodys part. I settled and now have a younger brother to look after and try to ensure he feels loved and secure.
Lenny arrived in late April 2019. I have said before that he was like a furry hand grenade being dropped into my life. We fought and squabbled like a couple of devils for the first few weeks. My parents realised they needed some help with our behaviour so they spoke to the lady who facilitated Lenny’s rescue. She guided them and we now live relatively happily together. We certainly fight less but still manage to annoy our parents at just about the most inconvenient times. Lenny settled quicker than I did. I think that is because he was younger when he was rescued, had me to show him the ropes and our parents already knew roughly what to expect. His arrival and settlement went more smoothly than mine.
I think what I am saying is this. Ask yourself some questions about us. Firstly are you prepared for the upheaval we cause? It’s not all Hollywood glitz and glamour when we arrive. There is poop, pee and sick to clear up. Accidents happen and we need the vet. Sometimes these vet visits are at the most inconvenient times and we can need some serious medical assistance too. We need feeding, walking, training, grooming and generally will require your attention when you may need it for yourself. We will leave hair in places you never knew we could leave hair. We will bring mud in from the garden, need to go out at some unearthly hour of the night and possibly on more than one occasion a night. You may need to sit up with us to make sure we are ok, when we aren’t. Are you prepared?
Are you prepared for the rigmarole of checking our history if you buy us, or the rescue process if we are abandoned or have fallen by the wayside. Can you check with the breeder about mum, our bloodline, where we live, medical issues, are the breeders reputable and registered with the authorities? At this point I am going to ask one thing, please. Do not EVER buy us from some back street unregistered “breeder”. Please. Just don’t.
What type of dog do you want? Do we fit in with your circumstances. If you live in an apartment and will be out all day, is it a good idea to get for instance a husky or a beagle? Will you commit to a small lap dog, a more energetic dog or a larger dog that may not be quite as energetic. We all need the same amount of commitment.
Who will walk us in the morning, lunchtime or evening. If it’s pouring with rain or there are inches of snow outside we still need to go out. Are you prepared to take us out for a walk so we can fill our noses with scent and our eyes with the wonders of the world. Even if the rain is coming down so hard that you don’t want to go out. Will you have time to take us out for a decent walk or run around the park. If you are too busy, who is going to walk us?
Are you prepared to include us in your routine so we can play, learn and interact with you. It makes no difference to us being puppies or older dogs. We still need and enjoy the interaction of some play time, learning new tricks and routine in our behaviour which will strengthen our bonding to you. Remember we may be only a small part of your life but you are our life. You dont “need” us but we need you for food, shelter, warmth and companionship if you commit to us.
Having been prepared to welcome us into your home, are you prepared to say farewell to us when it is our time to go. Are you prepared to look after us, live with us and accept our mutual friendship for a long period of time before you take the kindest but most heartbreaking decision to be with us at our end. Good times and bad we will be there once the commitment has been made and accepted.
Most people will know my thoughts on rescue -v- buying dogs so I am not going to push one or the other of those buttons. All I am saying is that you step back and ask yourself if you can make that commitment to look after us for sometimes up to twenty years through day and night, good times and bad. We will disrupt your day, your weeks, your holidays, your plans and your lives generally but we will give you so much joy and contentment. If you can truthfully say that you are able to provide that commitment, and you want to adopt or buy one of us, then take steps to help give one or more of us a life we can enjoy and love. If we are only going to be a status symbol, a play thing or an after thought, then please go to the toy store and get a cuddly stuffed dog and pet that instead. It’s not fair on us if we are going to be anything less than a complete commitment on your part.
Please think about all options before you commit to anything. The commitment we show to you will need to be reciprocated. We will love you and have a happy life if you can honour the commitment to us. You could make a dog very happy if you make a considered decision.
12 thoughts on “Are you prepared?”
Thank you, Dex, for such a thoughtful post. I do wish to point out that sometimes an impulse “rescue” is the right answer, as well. Joey had lived his entire life in a small apartment in a building full of old people. When his human died after 15 years together, the family came in and packed Joey up and took him to the city shelter, then left. I’d been living in the building for a few months, and my apartment was far too quiet and lonely. The house manager mentioned Joey’s situation to me, and I rushed over to the shelter and adopted him on sight. The next day everything shut down for the pandemic. Joey is now 16 years old, and his diabetes requires two shots per day. He worked very hard to learn to live me, but now he is the warmest kitty on the block, no longer running under the bed when strangers come in! So I’d say that people who want an animal in their life should, indeed, think long and hard about the realities, and be prepared to open their hearts when a “rescue” needs to happen. Here’s my very best to ALL of you!!!! It will be Thanksgiving here in the States in a few days, and I have a lot to be thankful for.
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Thank you for rescuing Joey. I agree that sometimes there is a need for furs to be “rescued” quickly due to their circumstances. Often those rescues are done by goodly people who have thought about doing it for a while and therefore have the facility to look after us.
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Thank you for this thoughtful and thought provoking tweet ❤️
All our recent dogs have been rescues. Indeed, Badger (our dog before we had Tig and Freddie) was a “gift” from our vets.
Tig we had directly from the rescue when he was only 15 weeks old and he was a real handful with few inhibitions.
If he was tired, he bit me.
If he was angry, he bit me.
If he was frustrated, he bit me.
If he was bored, he bit me.
He was also dreadfully car sick…he couldn’t travel to puppy classes (about 15 minutes drive away) without vomiting at least once there…and the same all the way back!
I admit that there were times when we wondered if we’d taken on too much, but it never seriously crossed our minds to return him to the rescue and now, five years on, he’s (mostly) a very good boy.
Then two years ago, I saw Tig’s litter brother, Alfie, was being returned to the rescue with “behavioural and recall issues” and we applied to rehome him too.
When he came to us we found that he didn’t have behavioural issues, but was misunderstood and untrained. We couldn’t touch him and he was scared of his name, which we changed to Freddie.
It’s taken us two years, but now Freddie is really settling into his new family and trusting us more.
He’s still a work in progress and will probably remain so for the rest of his life…but the rest of his life will be with us ❤️❤️❤️
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Thank you for sticking by both dogs. I have no doubt that you are being repaid each day with their love. Tig and Freddie are lucky that you spotted their difficulties quickly and didn’t just assume that they were bad or naughty dogs who couldn’t be helped. Our behaviour is usually linked to certain aspects of our lives, either current or previous. We are like most other sentient creatures in that we need to learn and understand before we can do something. We have no voice so we need to show our emotions and needs in other ways. Apparently beagles have extremely effective eyes when it comes to meals being late even by seconds.
Wise words for those who will take heed.
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Thank you. Usually people do their checks and homework but its the other occasion where we are purchased or adopted on a whim that are the problematic ones.
Wow, what a wise post. I’m going to get my BH to publicise it…
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Thanks Twiglet. I don’t usually get called wise, so I think I might frame that comment.
Admittedly, we did not know what we were entirely getting into when we brought Betsy beagle home to live with us. It took her months to fully settle in, but we never thought twice about not keeping her – we really just wanted to figure out how to get her to stop peeing on things when we left her home alone at night (Daytime was no problem strangely enough!).
Our next dog will absolutely be another rescue beagle and this time we know what we’re getting into. We realize that this time around, we’ll also need to keep Betsy beagle’s needs in mind – she’s adjusting to her human (my daughter) going away to college this fall, so it won’t be anytime soon. Maybe next spring?
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Thank you. I am not sure that people know for certain what they are going to get, with any dog. Most will diligently do their background checks, homework if you will, and try to think of all the costs, problems and solutions to those problems. Beagles, it appears, may be somewhat of a special case. I know my parents learned early on in their checks that we are stubborn so and so’s. Just how stubborn was apparently a “sight to behold” sometimes. The settlement process can be somewhat of a lottery as well in that we can either settle fairly quickly or will be annoyingly stubborn in certain areas for months or years. Patience, routine and understanding should be applied liberally to such situations.
Betsy’s presence should help any rescue become settled faster although this depends on the new beagles previous circumstances. Lenny settled far quicker than I did and we think this was because of a number of aspects Firstly I am a confident lad around the house and garden so I could show him the do’s and don’ts from our point of view. Secondly he was younger than me when rescued and his spongey brain absorbed more basic information and rules than maybe I did. Thirdly was the experience my parents had with my adoption and they could apply some of the lessons to Lenny. Not all lessons by any stretch, but it allowed them to see what his behaviour meant on occasion.
Has Betsy’s behaviour changed since your daughter went to college?
Betsy went through several stages this fall, including not eating, not wanting to go on walks and the most alarming one, becoming aggressive with other dogs, including her friends. She seems to have finally gotten through all of that so that we are now just dealing with her usual reaction to the shorter, colder days of autumn in which she insists on eating dinner by dusk so that she can be in bed shortly after. She also tries to encourage us to go to bed when she does, however, as humans with jobs, it’s not quite feasible for us to be in bed by 5:30 every night.
My daughter is less than an hour away, so there have been visits, including a weekend where my husband and I went out of town, so my daughter came home to spend the weekend with Betsy. We’ve taken Betsy to see her a few times as well – I do think she’s starting to recognize the turn-off for my daughter’s college and she gets excited to walk around and get all the sniffs.
Betsy has always had a very visible inclination towards rescue hounds – her favorite friends all fit that description. She likes puppies, but after a few minutes of playing with them, she finds ways to nonchalantly sit on them, not so much in a way that is showing dominance, but in more of a grumpy middle aged woman who is just done with that child’s energy. So we know if we bring home a companion for Betsy, it will need to be a younger, but not too young, rescue hound that she thoroughly vets.
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Separation anxiety. I get it each time dad goes out for shopping and stuff like that. I will whine, bark and then beat up one of my beds until mum steps in and I get down time on the naughty step. Lenny doesn’t seem concerned when someone leaves the house, even for a few minutes. Taking Betsy to see your daughter is a good idea as it maintains the bond and reminds Betsy that each time she travels, she might be going to see her human sister. Keeps up the intrigue.
Lenny is quite sociable and wants to play with other dogs, but not with puppies for some reason. He’s full of energy as my ears can attest, yet he barks and shies away if puppy wants to play.He has no problem playing with older dogs and is often more polite than I am.
Betsy clearly recognises any difference with a rescue and likely feels that they need some good attention and is willing to play with them. Another dog is good but as we found out, needs to be handled carefully when it first arrives.
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