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.