To continue from Part 1.
One comment I have made frequently and never had remotely satisfactorily answered is this:
If you buy a pedigree puppy from a breeder you are denying a rescue dog a home. In some cases rescue dogs are killed because there is no more room at a shelter.
Because the day someone can prove the opposite to me I *MAY* change my opinion. Unlikely, but I like to be open-minded.
Lots of well-meaning people tell me they support rescue shelters financially. And then go out and buy pedigree puppies. Do you know what those rescue shelters really need? For you to stop chucking a few pence their way and take some dogs off their hands.
It strikes me as total snobbery. ‘I pay lots of money and I will get a better prettier more handsome dog.’ In fact, snobby pedigree buyers, you could find out the price of the breeder’s dog you want, give that money to a shelter AND take a dog from the shelter. But no, those cast-off shoddy second-hand dogs just aren’t good enough, are they? Or they are full of problems – or why else would they be there? A few reasons – couples splitting up (one of the reasons Prince was on the streets), couples having children (Paddy), pregnant bitches thrown out (Ben), big dogs cost too much to feed (Pippa? maybe) and too difficult to exercise, dogs chew or bark due to poor/inadequate training/settling-in from people, they pass their sell-by date.
Ironically out of our five rescues, three have been pure-bred. Black Lab, GSD, and now the Podenco Andaluz. We were even offered the papers for the Lab from the shelter. None of them came from a breed-specific shelter, they were luck of the draw. And the one who gets the most compliments? Street dog cross husky/GSD Pippa. Although Snowy seems to be catching up in Spain. We can’t go for a walk in our local town without someone saying how cute he is. But Pippa still wins hands down in Gib, someone stopped a car last night to say how gorgeous he was.
I wouldn’t mind so much if pedigree puppy buyers admitted that they wanted to buy a specific dog and they really don’t give a shit about unwanted ones. It’s the ‘we love dogs but we just happen to want to pay for this one’ that pisses me off. Right off. ‘And we are doing our bit by donating to shelters for low lifes like you to rehome those rejects.’
Yeah. I so believe you.
One friend, referring to Snowy, told me it took a special kind of person to just take in any dog. I don’t think so. I’m not remotely special. He asked if I would take in a Great Dane. Yes, why not? Nice dogs. Wrong question actually. He should have asked if I would take in a Bichon whatsit or a similar trendy toy dog. No need as they are in demand anyway.
But this is the difference that doesn’t compute. I am looking to give a dog a home. Not to buy an iPhone, a large screen TV, whatever other toy. In return for minimal financial investment but a lot of time and patience, I will get love, company, fun, exercise, a guardian, no badness and no arguments. And an unwanted abandoned dog suddenly becomes part of a family.
I have to mention these. What is it with flying dogs out of Spain to elsewhere in Europe, and the endless miles Americans drive to rehome dogs? Are there not enough unwanted dogs locally? Bet there are. Even worse, reading about pedigree puppies being flown around Australia because the only one we can possibly buy dahling (do Aussies say dahling? maybe not) is at the other end of the country. But it’s ok, because I give my five bob to the local shelter and help out from time to time. It goes without saying I fell out with someone on FB for this because it reeks to me of total hypocrisy.
My heart bleeds to read about dogs abandoned, or being rounded up to be killed in say, Rumania for example, but the truth is, there are plenty of unwanted dogs close to home. We can’t solve the problems locally never mind far away, so I don’t see the added value of transportation. Plus it’s not exactly environmentally sound.
I am surprised to see that Podencos seem to have arrived in the UK via special charity services. I am starting to wonder if there is breed elitism among dog rescuers. ‘I have a pure bred Podenco Andaluz flown in from Spain’ ….. Instead of I took Heinz 57 in from the local shelter.
One American friend had an allergy to dog fur so was considering a greyhound but decided on a labradoodle in the end (stupid name). None available, she said, so she put down a deposit for a puppy from a breeder. Lying cow. I looked up her state for rescues (Colorado) and there was one available in a rescue right next to where she lived.
Some case histories to look at the differences between bought pedigrees v rescues. Or rather, to ask if there are any differences.
I’ll start with mine. My parents had four dogs, three out of four were bought. Brutus, a pedigree boxer, died young when my father reversed over him. I was months old so I don’t remember him.
Brutus, pedigree boxer puppy
Good point: loved me to bits apparently
Bad point: didn’t keep out of the way of the car.
Tarquin, Wizard of Skelder (to give full name), pedigree boxer puppy
Good points: also loved me to bits, good guard dog, loved the rest of my family
Bad points: hated other dogs, dubious about some people (aren’t we all?)
Pompey, pedigree Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy from Kinza kennels
Good points: loved me, my mum, most of my friends – if he didn’t like someone, I didn’t either, super intelligent
Bad points: Not keen on other dogs. Or some people – but is that a bad point?
Bit the next door neighbour’s child when my father wasn’t watching so he drove to the vet to have him killed. For which I blame my father not the dog. The parents of the child were horrified that my father had the dog put down. So were we, had they rung us, we would have driven up and collected him that day.
Bruno, Staffy cross, rescue from York RSPCA
Can’t say I was pleased my parents got another dog after killing Pompey but at least they bit the rescue bullet.
Good point: beautiful temperament
Bad points: none that I know of.
With which you can see that origin has little to do with dog behaviour, and far more to do with the people providing the home to the dog. Socialisation is very important for dogs, and it’s a fine balance between having a loyal housedog who guards the family and one who can be aggressive with other animals and people.
Onto my dogs.
Ben, Labrador puppy, pure bred, rescue from Blue Cross.
Had kennel papers that we refused. We wanted a dog not papers. His pregnant mother had ended up in the rescue and gave birth there to Ben and his sister. So sad.
Good points: wonderful temperament, happy sunny nature, nice with people and dogs
Bad points: none – well unless you count running off whenever he scented water. He was a Labrador after all.
Paddy, cross setter/spaniel/Lab cross from RSPCA, about six months old.
Apparently no problems with kids. Did we care about that? No. But – what didn’t he like? Yup. Kids.
Good points: obedient (to me), total darling, ok with other animals and adults
Bad points: chased birds (minor in the scheme of things), snarled at kids (maybe that is a good point). Never went for any, just didn’t like them.
Prince, GSD, pure bred. From rescue aged 3 or 4?
The most deprived and abused dog we have ever had. He was frightened of hands because he thought they were going to hit him.
Chucked out on the streets of Cramlington (north of Newcastle). I wouldn’t live in Cramlington if you paid me. He must have lived on cast-off take-aways for months. He was quiet and timid and frightened. To start with.
Good points: super loyal, super intelligent, obedient, guard dog par excellence, fitted in well with the other two dogs and later with Pippa.
Bad points: as above in a way, managing a clever dog isn’t easy. He became very discriminating about people he didn’t like and took on Alpha male resp when Ben died.
Pippa, cross husky/GSD, off the street in Spain
Good points: totally tranquil, beautiful temperament, loves everyone and everydog unless they are aggressive, great with children, undemanding, kills rats and mice, good with other animals eg horses, donkeys, draught cattle, but see below
Bad points: chases cats, every single one he can find, vain – looks most disappointed when people don’t stop to stroke or hug him
The only dog we have ever been offered money for!
Snowy, Podenco Andaluz Albino. Pure bred according to our vet. Chucked in/at rubbish bin at a few days old
Good points: another smart dog, adaptable, self-sufficient, tough, already guards the gate and barks, good on house training, good off the lead, affectionate
Bad points: bites my toes? a little too enthusiastic in digging up the garden.
So Pippa and Snowy were both chucked out on the street. Put a lead around them, feed them up, and people start to admire them. And yet, the same people wouldn’t give them the time of day as stray street dogs.
Some other examples of rescue dogs and their good and bad points.
Ben, Advertised in local paper at 10 weeks old, was in a stable with his litter mates.
Good points: Highly intelligent, knew hundreds of words.
Bad points: Hated male dogs.
Harry, Vicky visited the border collie trust, asked to see the longest resident (6 months)
Good points: always happy, loved everyone, never showed any aggression.
Bad points: a car chaser.
Sally, Vicky read a description (no photo) on border collie trust website, sounded ideal friend for H.
Good points: Miss Perfect, always eager to please.
Bad points: eats cat shit.
Jasper, Seen advertised on Dogs Trust website, blank and institutionalised after being there 16 months. Thought to be collie/Pyrenean cross.
Good points: gentle giant, loved cuddles, very loyal.
Bad points: unsure around toddlers.
I’ll end with Ina’s dog –
Benny, who was rescued from a travellers’ site aged 4 weeks, hairless, covered in fleas and mange.
He was rescued by a woman who lives in Wales and rescues dogs.
The story goes that the “travellers” had seven puppies who at four weeks old they were “going to knock on the head”. [Remember my earlier comment in Part 1 about different ways of getting rid of puppies?]
This woman heard about them from a gypsy friend, who went to the camp and rescued the puppies.
From then on, some were passed to the EGLR (Evesham Greyhound and Lurcher Rescue) to a foster home in Heathrow and some went to a foster home in Hereford. The puppies at four weeks old were completely bald with mange, in a very poor state and almost certainly riddled with worms.
At four weeks old they couldn’t be treated with any mange treatments as they were too young. So from four weeks until they were about eight weeks old they were rubbed with different types of baby creams every two hours or so to keep the skin soft and supple and take away the irritation.
In order for the puppies to stop scratching themselves with those needle-like claws and to keep warm they had to wear baby vests. Then at around the eight week mark they could then be treated with Advocate. [A mange treatment from Bayer]. Once they started on the treatment they came on in leaps and bounds. Ina was told that apparently it had been touch and go if they survived at all. She homed Benny when he was about 11 weeks old from the foster home in Hereford, who, at that time had all the puppies.
Ina went to see them and walked in to find seven adorable healthy puppies. Decision time, which puppy to have? so she picked the biggest handsomest, cutest (in her eyes) that was there… Benjamin, he was called, so she stuck with the name.
She had to leave him and go back a week later to fetch him. Ina found out after a few months that the whole litter was the set of most agile and athletic pups they had ever had through the rescue home.
Benny now is ball mad and would play all day long. He took up bottle carrying and would ask anyone to play with him.
In Ina’s words:
“He is such a happy little chap and so friendly to everyone. After such a terrible start in life he turned into my little star.”
Oh and his bad points are:
a cat hater, eats cat and horse shit.
Pretty minor in the scheme of things for a dog who had such a poor start. And that’s the same for all rescues, at some point they get a bad deal in life – courtesy of people. All they need is a home. Is it really so difficult to take in an unwanted animal?
Thank you to everyone for your thoughtul comments on Part 1. It was surprising and heart-warming to hear how many people have taken in stray/bandoned/unwanted/street dogs.
It would be even more heart-warming if just one person read this post and thought hmm, I will take an unwanted dog instead of buying one.
I can live in hopes.
Thank you also to Vicky and Ina for providing me with text and photos to add some different examples to my personal ones.
And here is a poll, although judging by comments on the first post I could probably fill in the answers myself …
Please note you can answer as many questions as you want. Or you should be able to! It’s a yes/no poll so if your answer is yes, click on the box. If your answer is no, leave it alone. I’m sure there’s a clearer way of doing it but that will do for now.