Over the last few months we’ve been gearing up to get another dog…. out last dog died three years or so ago – she was a private rescue dog – an elderly Leonberger.
We’ve had disagreements over what sort of dog…and perused local rehoming websites voraciously… looking for the ‘right’ dog. The perfect dog…. one that can live with a boy aged 7, a cat (fairly comfortable with dogs) and chickens (who’d rather not be chased and eaten).
It reminds me of when I first started keeping chickens many years ago…. we deliberated for months… studied breeds and chicken houses endlessly… in the end some friendly neighbours told us they were going to bring some chucks to our allotment in three days time and told us we needed to look after them.
We spent the weekend handbuilding a chicken run and coop (even though it had pram wheels at one end it always took at least three people to move it)… the chickens turned up…. and we never looked back.
So… with the dog I got to the point where I saw a dog on the website of the West Norfolk branch of the RSPCA and thought… lets just go for it.
We visited… the dog concerned was lovely but a bit big for my liking…. she came with assurances that she was good with children, cats and chickens… but… but…. she just didn’t seem right for us.
So we walked up and down the kennels and I fell in love with Ned… a one year old(ish) parson’s terrier (ish)… I sat and stroked him for ages, took him for a walk…. he seemes a calm little chap, quite adorable and small enough for the seven year old to be able to get involved with its care. (the reason we went for Pekin bantams when he was three instead of buff orpingtons which would be bigger than him).
I talked to the ladies in the office, described our location and set up and they thought it sounded ideal. I admitted there was a river at the bottom of the garden but it would take a very determined small dog to cross it.
They passed us on to their ‘re-homing out of area’ person..who would ring us.
She did…. it was her birthday and personally I think she may have been squiffy as it was very difficult to get her off the phone so I could eat my supper.
She totally got the wrong end of the stick regarding our river and seemed to think it was a muddy dyke that a small dog might prance accross willy nilly…. eventually i said “its the river Welland – not a ditch” at which point she said it would probably be okay and she’d send me some pictures of Ned to show our 7 year old (as the dog concerned wasn’t on the website) and yes they’d be holding onto him for us becuase it would be terrible for our little boy to be disappointed. (and I’d told Rafe I’d get hjim out of school early tomorrow so we could get over and he could meet Ned before we bring him home).
[as an aside at this point – I was also stupid enough to suggest I might let our 7yr old son hold a dog lead… at which point she told me if that was the case she wouldn’t let us have a dog off them…. I retracted my adult sense that I knew the capabilites of my own child and my ability to judge at what point my very small dog would be trained well enough to be held by a fairly hefty, intelligent and diligent child and said ‘no of course my child would never hold the lead]
Fast forward to this morning…. late last night the out of area rehoming lady had sent some lovely pictures of Ned for the boy to peruse but also a note that said she was going to check with the manager about the river as it hadn’t arisen in their conversation yesterday…erm… if it wasn’t an issue why would it?
I was worried enough about this – maybe she thought I was fibbing about having mentioned it to the manager? to think I’d give them a call.
But they beat me to it.
Some random volunteer rang and told me that as the ‘out of area’ lady was worried about the river they wouldn’t home a dog with us…. I asked for a home visit to be arranged before they made a final decision.
To at least look at the actual situation.
But no…. she was worried the dog would run away.
Jane rang them and spoke to the manager (eventually having had a volunteer hang up on her)… and said we’d get our own home check done…could we have Ned after doing that if we passed.
But they’d only THINK about it.
I’m beginning to get the idea that dog rehoming is a bit like child adoption…. for the good of the child/dog a prespective parent/owner has to jump through ridiculous amounts of hooped red tape.
The’y rather have a child/dog in an intitution/kennel than look at a broader picture and rehome it.
The object of the RSPCA (and its west norfolk branch – which maintains seperate charitable status) is “to promote kindness and to prevent or suppress cruelty to animals by all lawful means” over a year they rehome about 360 dogs (plus some cats and small animals)…. they are a charity with just under a million pounds under its belt (thats just the local branch charity).
Doesn’t seem to me that theres much turn over of animals for the amount of money involved… the most important thing for any domestic animal is to have a happy loving family home…. you’d think they’d at least consider a home with a large garden…a small boy and two adults to dote on the dog…an enthusiasm to take said dog to training classes…a household where the dog would rarely be left alone…. be accepted as a family member…that obviousl knows how to care for pets already…has experience of dogs…. countryside walks on the doorstep… but no.
no…theres a small chance that the said dog (who they have no history or knowledge of becuase it was found abandoned a week ago) may be some sort of desperado escape artist.
Were that the case I’d deal with it as a responsible grown up…same as we coped with having a small boy by the river and managed not to have him drown (we also have stairs with no bannister and he only ever fell down once before he learned a little respect for gravity).
I don’t want to buy a puppy from a breeder… I’d rather give a dog a home who needs one.
When I was a kid… dogs were considered intelligent creatures … seven year old boys capable of rational thought.. and adults capable of making sensible decisions. In the past when I’ve had dogs escape….run away on a common…swim out to sea after seagulls… I’ve trusted the dog to come back, or my ability to find it…or accept that its an excessively stupid dog and needs additional measures put in place to stop it happening again.
Same with my children.
There is something totally unhealthy about the way the ‘second hand’ dog ‘industry’ (for thats what it is) is run by power crazed volunteers who overly emote to a neurotic level about the animals in their care.