Dogs, More Than Just a Hobby
Our current little rescue Tinka
Dogs, Dogs and more Dogs
Dogs may sound a strange title for a hobby but as a general term it suits the subject well. Having been lucky enough to own a bunch of beautiful dogs over the years my pets have certainly takes some of my time, plenty of money and bags of love. If you are a dog lover and owner you will know exactly what I am talking about. If you are not, well I will try to explain.
YOUR NEW PET AND FIRST DOG
So you have taken the plunge and decided that a dog is for you. It may be that you thought a dog would be company, that you could provide a needy animal with a good home or that you simply required a guard dog. Whatever the reason is for you getting a dog trust me your life will change, mostly for the better, but it will take commitment on your part. If a dog enters your home as a new and first pet dog and your life does not change there is something wrong.
Much will depend on you, your circumstances, the pet, why you wanted a dog and how prepared you are for owning a dog. Many prospective dog owners forget that dogs cannot be left alone, locked in the house for hours on end. Sure once a dog is house trained you can leave them a while but not for a limitless period of time. The possible changes to your life are:-
- No longer being able to stay over at someones house at the drop of a hat.
- Having to consider your pet when booking a holiday or vacation.
- Spending time with your dog in order to bond, train, help their well being and monitor the animal's health.
- Perhaps having to call home at lunch time to check on your dog,
Of course there are many other ways that you must consider your dog such as not simply leaving it at home, at a time such as Bonfire Night in the UK. If you are not a dog lover then I guess a dog can be a pain. After all can't we all at times?
On the whole a Dog's demands from you are fairly basic, especially compared to those that people may make. For such meagre pickings a dog will provide with so much more back in return.
If I had to list my Hobbies and Loves then my dogs would right there up at the top of the list. The first dog I owned was back in 1972, when I first married and he was a cracker. Here is my list of beautiful dogs who I have been lucky enough to share a home with over the years. I shall not give their names in order to protect their anonymity. Just joking.
A chocolate coloured, cross, Labrador, male dog. When we had been married a short while we went into our city centre to visit the local pet shop and buy a Goldfish. We had owned two Goldfish since the previous October which were won at a local Fair. Sadly Fred had passed away and we felt we owed Harry a companion. Just how we ended up with a gorgeous bundle of brown fluff that was to become Drupi I am not sure.
As we entered the shop he was just being put into the pet shop window. He looked so cute but sad. We asked if we could hold him and that was that. At a price of £1.50 for the dog and his lead and collar we had a small pet dog to care for. I know the price sounds ridiculous but it was 1972. Still even back then it was cheap. Of course by the time we had left the shop we had spent a small fortune on a basket, a few toys, dog food, feeding bowl and more. This little chap was about 12 weeks old and had been given as a Christmas present to the young woman who was selling him. She said that he was partially trained but that he was just too lively for her as she had three young children.
She seemed to genuinely be concerned and hoping that this dog would find a good home and I like to think that he did with us. He was a cracker but he did have his moments. As a young dog he:-
- Eat through the cable connecting a radio to the mains supply when then radio was switched on.
- Secretly eat a huge bar of bath soap.
- Eat one sock out of every pair of my Hubby's socks.
- Eat a Bee that stung him in his mouth.
Thankfully his naughtiness was soon gone but then we got Benny.
Benny was a stray dog, about one or two years old when he came to us. Drupi had settled in nicely and I had no desire for another pet. Friends of my husband's had taken a stray into their home and craftily conned my husband to bring him home. Enter Benny the most beautiful looking dog but in many ways the dog from hell. He did not like children although they loved him for his pretty face. He would appear to smile as he sucked them in and would then growl worryingly.
It turned out that Ben had been chewing the friend's house to death and as no-one had stepped forward top claim him they wanted to get rid of him by any means possible. He lived with us for ten years and was always hard work. Much of his bad behaviour rubbed of on Drupi and the both became a handful at times. Ben chewed but more dramatically than Drupi. Benny chewed:-
- Door frames.
- Skirting Boards.
- Chair legs.
Really he chewed anything that he could get his teeth into. We tried STOP CHEW and more but nothing seemed to work I guess this was why he had been abandoned in the first place. We stuck with him but he would have probably been better without another dog in the home. Of course he did have his tender and sweet moments. Eventually when he passed away Drupi seemed to breath a sigh of relief. Drupi lived till nearly nineteen and was fit and well until near the end. Once I did not have to struggle walking two dogs we had some terrific times walking, running and generally just enjoying the great outdoors. It taught me that you need to be careful and consider whether or not to take a stray into your home for your sake, the pet's and any other pet's that you may have.
Drupi's euthanasia was so traumatic that we decided we would not have another dog. Five years down the line though we thought we would like another four legged friend. This time we decided to look around our local RSPCA. We had a puppy in mind but there none in the rescue centre. Sabie picked me as soon as I entered the main kennels. Cowering at the back of his cage he looked so timid. I squatted down, leaned forward and made a coaxing noise. He came forward and gingerly licked my hand. That was it. He had picked me and he was ours.
Adoption from the RSPCA required that we:-
- Had a home visit to see if we would be appropriate dog owners.
- We paid a fee which included the animal's castration fees.
Sabie needed a couple of teeth extracting also. Once all of this was sorted I went to pick him up and bring him home. At that time Hubby worked in a job which required him to wear a formal uniform. Hubby was in bed as he was to work that night. Poor Sabie just sat in front of where he husband's uniform was hung up and howled. I never quite sussed why but it obviously troubled him.
All of our rescue dogs have been nervous and especially frightened of men. Some of this has been because of the maltreatment they received by men. We know this for a fact from some of the rescuers history. However all of them, within a short time of knowing by Hubby, have become confidant and lost that terrible fear. One of our dogs still cowers a little if he sees anyone in a baseball cap or a crash helmet. He physically flinches.
Sabie was great company and as I was recovering from a period of ill health we went everywhere together. Eventually I could not get ready to go anywhere without Sabie sitting in front of me wagging his tail and waiting for me to get his lead out. This little chap never made any mess in our home. He chewed nothing and fouled nothing. He was an absolute star.
Sabie was a cross Alsatian about 5 years old when we adopted him. He did however have poor health as he got older. We had about 5 good years and then he had one health problem after another and ended up on permanent medication which left him muddled and confused. We did not let him suffer long. You just sort of know when the time is right. If you love them you have to let them go. His pleading eyes told me when it was time and Hubby and I stayed with till the end. It was such a privilege to know that little dog.
About six months before Sabie left us we took in another rescue dog. We had met him at a local fair whilst browsing the charity stand for HDRS, Hessle Dog Rescue Service. Leo had no fur and was a little tubby as he was on steroids. He was hot the day we met him and his pink skin with black patches made him look like a little piggy. He was gorgeous.
Leo's was a sad story. I will not dwell on this but he weighed only 7kgs, was dying of hunger and thirst, was flea ridden and had matted fur and was almost mistaken for a bundle of rags laid in the middle of a motorway.
By the time we met him he had been having two and three times a day bathing, his fur removed and plenty of TLC. He was still in a delicate condition but he caught my heart. A couple of months later I rang the rescue to see how Leo was getting on assuming that he had been re-homed. He was still with them.
Leo came for a couple of hours to see how he got on with Sabie. Then he came for a weekend. By the Sunday we knew we would never let him go. Much as he could never replace Sabie he helped soften the blow when it came.
Leo was so upset when we did not bring Sabie back home that he hid under the table on and off for a few weeks. This kept us busy trying to settle him down and helped the grieving process.
Leo is a dog in a million. He never does anything naughty. He loves people and people love him. It would seem his ambition in life is to please. Whatever caused him to be so maltreated I have no idea. Leo's confidence has grown over the years but unfortunately his bad start has wreaked havoc on his health. He has a heart murmur and some paralysed muscles in his neck which make him cough a little. He has put on more weight than he should have but is cuddly I guess. Having suffered such starvation food is big issue for Leo.
Jess came as a foster dog from the same rescue service when she was about 10 months old. She was sleeker than Leo but about the same size. Now she towers over him. We nicknamed her Jessie James, as that dog is armed and dangerous. She eat part of my leather stool, rigs, carpets and more but it was short lived. Initially she would not let you stroke her. She had been punched so much that a hand coming toward her seemed a threat. After her owners had abused her they finally moved home and left tied up in the garden. Thankfully she was rescued. She has settled so much now and never chews anything. She tries to be boss but in many ways adores Leo. Wherever he lays she moves to lay next to him, often with her head on him as if he is a pillow.
On winter nights they both get into the large, soft dog basket and sleep together, even though I have other dog beds. I tuck them up with a blanket over them to keep them warm and most mornings they are still there when we get up.
Would you say owning a dog is a hobby?
Dogs As a Hobby
Owning a dog is what you make of it. Like most things in life it is what you put in that determines what you will get out
- Sat up all night with a dog that has been in pain.
- Administered first aid and nursed one of my dogs that had half of his ear bitten off by another dog,
- I have sat on the floor comforting a dog in such pain that he literally cried.
- I have run and played on warm sunny days with excitable, fun loving pets who have been so happy.
- I have watched frightened little souls recover their confidence and strength
- I have loved every minute of it.
Of course I have not loved letting go of a dog however old and infirm he has been but I have known that it is the right and kind thing to do. It has been terrible watching an animal in pain but at least I have been able to help and comfort them.
In return I have been given loyalty and every day receive a welcome home as if I had been away from them for 20 years. You can't beat that can you?
And now we have Tinka, our smallest and most complex rescue dog to date
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Ethel Smith