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rescue pets

Unfortunately, we lost our old dog about 6 weeks ago.

It’s not been easy without him; before he died he didn’t do much except join us on our walks, but he could always be relied on to bark at the front door if someone knocked. Now he’s gone, we might actually need to get a doorbell.

I miss him at odd times. I keep ‘seeing’ him lying beside my bed or in the hallway, or ‘hearing’ him move around upstairs. And I feel awfully lopsided walking only one dog.

I haven’t even managed to get into the vets we sent his body to, pay the cremation fee and pick up his ashes yet. I tell everyone that it’s because I’m too busy, but it’s really that I don’t want to. Having a small box with his name on, in the house will make it just too real in some ways.

The kids are coping fine; they stop now and again, look sad and tell me they miss him, but in the next breath are asking when we can get a new puppy.

The one who is really suffering is The Lurcher. She really misses her friend. The house sitters we had were good with her but when we got home we could tell she had lost weight. Everyone who has seen her recently has commented on how subdued she is and she seems to have lost a lot of confidence when we meet new dogs on our walks.

The kids are trying to give her lots of strokes and cuddles and she will play with them a bit, but you can tell she’s got one ear cocked listening for Old Boy coming down the stairs to join in. When we go for a walk somewhere I used to take the dogs together, she jumps out of the car and looks around madly, like she expects him to be there. Maybe she thinks we just left him behind somehow.

It’s heart breaking.

The only time she cheers up is with a bunch of other dogs that she knows. The dog walker says she is bright and cheerful when she’s out with him and his pack.

We always planned to get another dog sooner or later but it looks like we are going to have to do it ‘sooner’.

We want a rescue dog as there are so many dogs out there needing homes. We don’t want a pure breed. I’d like a collie x, DH would like a lab x, but any older sensible dog that was happy to play with The Lurcher and keep her in line would be ideal.

However, considering any new dog we get is going to need to be dog friendly, cat friendly, child friendly and small furry friendly, we are more likely to end up with a puppy. I don’t relish another round of toilet training but maybe this one will get the idea quicker than The Lurcher.

We have trawled all the dog rescues, signed up for email updates and I am checking for new dogs every day but quite a few Rescues don’t rehome dogs to families with children under 6, so we are ruled out immediately.

It seems a shame as we can offer a good home to the right dog. I’m home most of the time, we have a big garden and there are lots of lovely walks in the area.

Our next dog has to be out there somewhere, surely?

We just wish he’d hurry up and arrive!

When people find out I’m a vet, someone always brings up the subject of euthanasia.
‘I’d like to have been a vet’, they say, ‘But I couldn’t kill things.’

It’s not a high point of the job, but when an animal is sick, or in pain and has no quality of life, it’s sometimes the only humane option. I make sure the patient has a ‘good death’ and move on relatively easily.
But I’ve also had to put healthy, unwanted animals to sleep because there no one wanted them and this part of my job is really hard. When you do it routinely, you do harden yourself to it a little, but it never makes for a good day at work.

Some of these animals have severe behaviour issues that make them unsuitable pets for anyone without extensive experience of ‘problem’ animals. These damaged animals are the result of poor socialisation, poor breeding and abuse and often there is very little that can be done to help them. Rescues have limited resources and need to be selective in the animals they keep for re homing. They simply can’t hang on to a large number of animals who will probably never find new owners.

But there are many unwanted, young animals ending up on the euthanasia table, whose only fault is being surplus to requirements. Staffies and their crosses are over represented, as are black cats; these animals have the misfortune to be an unpopular breed or colour. Given some time and effort, these animals have to potential to make fantastic pets but they will never get the chance.

The hard truth is that there are not enough homes out there for the pets that are born every day, so it makes sense to do what we can to reduce the numbers of animals born.

Making sure the pets you already have don’t breed is essential.
Think of it this way: when you let your cat have a litter of kittens,or mate your spaniel bitch to the spaniel up the road, you are responsible for bringing any offspring into the world. Ethically, you are accountable for making sure that the homes they go to are good, caring ones and any litters they produce are also your responsibility. That’s a lot of liability. If you neuter your pet before they have a chance to breed, then you only have your own pet to worry about.

In a perfect world, the only litters would be from pure bred animals, devoid of any hereditary disorders, who are wonderful examples of the breed. Having a litter from 2 dogs just because they happen to be the same breed benefits no one, except the dodgy breeder seeking a quick profit. Good breeders pick their matings with care, and screen the prospective parents to ensure any progeny are as healthy as possible.

Even if no one ever planned a litter from their pets, there would still be enough pets from accidental matings or rescue centres to go around. Every animal born to a planned, or not-prevented, mating takes away a home from an animal that already exists. And each newborn means that an unwanted animal will die on the end of a needle.

Most of us are now used to considering the environment when we buy something new,and are familiar with the concepts of recycling and reusing in our day to day lives. So extend this attitude towards the animals you share your house with.
By re homing a rescue animal, instead of buying from a breeder or pet shop, you are doing your bit for animal welfare.
Visit your local animal rescue first and talk to them about what you want from a pet.They will be able to advise you which of their inmates might fit the bill. There are also dog rescues all around the country if you are specifically looking for a dog. And if you are fixated on a particular breed, then check out a breed rescue.

There are thousands of unwanted animals out there, just crying out for a forever home. So neuter the pets you  have at home, consider a second hand pet instead of buying new, and become a life saver.
Literally.