Thinking of things past

Being busy with the day to day chores of keeping parents and my brother (not biological but I allow him to live here) in check, I have missed an anniversary of a wonderful day that Lenny and I were privileged to take part in two years ago.

It was a chilly morning under our paws as we walked swiftly up the hill from our previous house to the train station. We were on a mission to show an excellent pal around London. The scenery whizzed past the window as we sped into London. A walk in the park, a trip on the tube and then the anticipation built until we heard Raffa and an entourage of adoring people walking up from the platform at Euston Station. Another quick tube ride was all that was needed to take us to our starting point.

What do you mean I’m too young to be in the pub?

Guildhall, Bank of England, Royal Exchange, Tower of London, London Bridge, Tate Modern via Shakespeare’s Globe was followed by a wobble across the Millennium Bridge for a photoshoot outside St Pauls.

Off to the pub for a cheeky half and thence along the Strand, where dad made everyone wait at the traffic lights by sternly telling Lenny and I to wait for the green cross man. It’s lucky he didn’t say “Sit”. Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Horseguards and then Buckingham Palace. A black cab ride back to the station for a fond farewell to Raffa and her mum.

Nice to meet you Raff, you are as lovely as Dex said you are.

We slept all the way home and I think it may have had something to do with the half marathon we had walked to see the sights. What a day, what an adventure, though sadly not to be repeated as Raffa took her longest journey in February 2020.

I will get back to London, and I will take Lenny again. We will show more friends around London so they can enjoy it as much as I did and still do. It goes without saying that I will tell you all about our adventures.

Are you prepared?

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.

An important day

Dex has allowed me, Lenny, to take over his blog on this one occasion. I wanted to say that today is an important day in the life of a rescue dog. It is the anniversary of Dexter arriving in his forever home on 19th December 2013. He’s been here seven years, had eight Christmases and all that time he’s been loved and cherished.

When we waifs and strays are sitting in kennels or the shelter we dream of being able to have a bed with toys, food and a warm cuddle to send us to sleep after a long walk through the fields and lanes chasing rabbits and squirrels. He has that in abundance. To have allowed our parents to adopt him and made them into his willing accomplices is a tribute to his guile and craftiness. It’s called a Gotcha Day on the basis that it is the day he got a forever home and he rescued humans in the process.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

I am privileged to be allowed to spend my life with him, as I couldn’t want for a better brother to guide me through life and show me the best things to smell and eat. If I don’t listen to him when I am eating revolting things, then it isn’t his fault. Today I will let him win at bitey face games. Tomorrow it will be back to normal service with him panting and puffing whilst trying to catch me.

I hope he’s being nice

Happy Gotcha Day big brother. I am so happy to say that.

What happens when the novelty wears off?

It occurred to me today, in the middle of this latest quarantine lockdown, that it is ninety days since my nanny went to the Rainbow Bridge to see grandad and all my buddies who have departed. And it made me wonder again about my life. I know I seem to be quite cogitative recently and maybe its because of the current situation with this virus and many other things happening. The time has flown since dad took the fateful phone call in mid August. Nanny and grandad are still in our hearts and minds. Sometimes I think I can see dad looking toward the heavens when I have allegedly done something silly.

I know I am a little disparaging about Lenny but it’s good to have a little brother to run around after, play with and generally share my life. I say it often enough however I am a very lucky dog to have love, safety and security showered upon me. Walks every day come rain or shine, food twice a day, biscuits and treats on other occasions and the pick of seven beds to sleep in all add up to me feeling happy. I am happy also that Lenny has somewhere safe to call home. He deserves it.

There are way too many other furs who don’t have the singular luxury of a bed, love, food or security throughout their lives and this makes me sad. Since the global virus marched its way through almost every country on the planet, I read about dogs being sold for extraordinary amounts of money because the demand outstrips the supply. Thousands of pounds for a puppy sold over the internet, on the back of no visit to see the little fur in its “home” environment, not seeing it with mum, sometimes a lack of health certificates and no check on any breeding or bloodlines. Are we a commodity, to be sold and bought in the same way as traders sell wheat, coal or motor cars? As sentient creatures, should there not be a more respectful and measured approach to us. I know that there are some people who look after us, breeders who make sure that they see where we will go, ensure we will be looked after and keep in touch for further questions.

People are at home for far longer than they used to be and crave company to combat their lack of social mobility. What happens when, or if, the virus is controlled a little and people start to carefully return to their places of work. What is to happen to the many pets who have been purchased and who may be left alone at home, almost fending for themselves with no walks, interaction with their humans and losing the regimentation of a regular daily life? I fear that a large number will merely be surrendered to a rescue centre, or shelter whose facilities will become bursting at the seams with the influx. I hope I am wrong, I really do.

Then we turn to the dreaded “C” word. Not Covid, but Christmas! How far will “pester power” stretch this year? How many dogs will be introduced to a new home with all the noise and joviality going on around us. Sitting there bewildered by this new place, the brightly coloured surroundings and not knowing what to do, how to interact and feeling completely confused with it all. The novelty often wears off quicker than a Christmas Day dinner and we look for some guidance and interaction to make us feel wanted and loved. Maybe this year should be the time for people to do their homework before bringing us into a new home. Speak to a rescue centre, ask what would be the best dog to suit the human and canine needs and then see if there is an unwanted dog at the rescue or shelter. I was a Christmas rescue dog, my parents did their homework as far as they could, they spoke to the rescue centre, saw me three times, walked me on each occasion, asked questions and thought about me for about three weeks before I came home. I was, and remain, lucky because they persevered with me despite some difficult early months for us all. People will say “oh but the rescue centres and rehoming centres aren’t allowing visits” which is often times true at the moment. That doesn’t stop them from researching our traits, which would be the best type of dog to get and then ask more questions.

Maybe what I am saying is this. Instead of “What will happen when the novelty wears off” it should be “Don’t let us be a novelty in the first place”. We are a serious and timely commitment. We will love you, play fetch, sleep in strange places, make you smile and be your best friend. However we will also make you sad when we have accidents, fall ill, run off on a walk and need you to take us to the vet and clean up after us. This applies to puppies who have their whole life ahead of them as well as older dogs who want only to have their years of dotage in a warm comfy place with gentle ear tickles and soft cuddles.

Are people ready for that? If not, then think really carefully about our suitability.