I recently read an article about one of UK’s oldest dogs – 23 year old Charlie. He was given up by his “original” family in 2010 when he was 16 years old. And the reason for this was “family was expecting a grandchild”… I am flabbergasted… After Charlie had been part of the family for 16 years, he is tossed aside without explanation. Can you imagine how he felt when he found himself in a rescue centre? He had no idea why he was suddenly in this unfamiliar and (most probably for him) scary place. And for older dogs the chances of getting a new home are very slim!
Thankfully Charlie was lucky and caught the eye of family Stuart, who gave him a new home with lovely siblings. With the new family doting on handsome Charlie, he has flourished and given them so far 7 wonderful years! You can read Charlie’s full story HERE.
Another very common situation is giving up the dog when you can no longer be bothered… An approximately 4 year old golden retriever cross who is very reactive to other dogs, and has also bitten a child. The family say they have done everything they can to try and help their dog, but the behaviour has not changed. They feel that the best thing is to “put the dog down” as rehoming a dog that has bitten a person would be irresponsible. How did this happen? What has happened that this dog ended up loosing her life?
Well… Let’s start from the beginning! The children had been wanting a puppy for a looooong time, and finally the parents gave in. They got a puppy from a friend, whose dog had an “accidental” litter, and this made the children so happy. YEY! But as the summer is over and the school is back on again, the kids start to loose interest in the puppy. The parents also work full time, so the now adolescent dog, is left free to roam while the family is at work / school.
So left on her own devices during the day, this golden retriever cross finds her own fun in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately she has a couple of not great experiences with other dogs, and quickly learns that when she barks and charges at dogs walking past with their owners, they will go away. Threat avoided and mission accomplished!
Outside this dogs house is also a green area where there is usually a few kids playing. She enjoys the human company, so has joined in a few times. Unfortunately not all kids have been kind to her, but grabbed her collar quite roughly and also pulled her tail and ears… She has done her best to politely communicate to the kids that she does not like it, but the kids have not understood her. Finally when a kid once more grabs her collar and pulls her, she tells him “NO” by nipping the kids hand. And it works, as the boy immediately lets go. “OK, so that is how I get them to stop when I don’t like something!” Pretty quickly after the incident, the dogs family is informed of what happened on the green. And once they learned about it, they give the dog a good wallop on the head. The poor dog has no idea why her family is screaming at her and what she did to deserve the hit on the head…
A year or so passes, and a similar incident occurs. And once again, when the family finds out about it, the dog is punished. But even after the second incident, the dog is still left free to roam during the day…
Eventually a year later, I was contacted to get help. I offered some ideas of how to help the situation before I got to meet the dog as well as the family. I told them how I work and what my fee would be. I also explained that helping their dog would require work from the whole family. The family did not hire my services.
The next I heard is that this golden retriever cross has been put down. I was dumbfound and so unbelievably sad for this poor dog. And the saddest thing about this all is that the family now has a new puppy…
Please understand that dogs are living, loving, feeling beings and not property (no matter what the law says!!!). Treat your dog with loving kindness, compassion and respect as well as take the time to learn their language. Remember that including a dog in your family is a commitment for life – the dogs entire, natural life, no matter what!