Monday, 25 June 2012

Don't turn your nose up at my Rescue Dog!

In the first few weeks and months of having Bella, quite a few comments were made on her ‘Rescue Dog’ status. She is a ‘Rescue Dog’ so the allusions were taken as quite harmless and true. However, eight months on and the ‘She’s a rescue dog isn’t she?’ comments are starting to niggle; the smug smile and the tone of voice are making some of the ‘friendly’ comments sound quite snobbish! Sorry, but it’s true!

Yes, my dog is a Rescue Dog; we found her at the Blue Cross having been taken in with a broken leg, but we love her and she loves us and she’s part of our family.  She may look ‘aggressive’ to you when you and your pedigree Spaniel / Jack Russel / Labrador meet us on walks, but just because she’s part Staffie doesn’t make her an aggressive dog. She’s excited! She wants to play with your dog and if you have a miniature breed, she doesn’t discriminate. She is strong, it’s the Staffie in her, and combined with the long history and dignity of a Japanese Shiba Inu she is also strong-willed. Having only discovered her mixed heritage earlier this year we now know how to handle her and hopefully train her while out walking. It’s an ongoing project.

Bella is impeccable indoors: she doesn’t jump on the furniture - like some dogs do, she did it once, was disciplined and never did it again; she doesn’t chew our human things - like some dogs do (e.g. slippers), she did it once, was disciplined and never did it again; she doesn’t need to be shouted at or cajoled to go out of a room - like some dogs, simply point to the door and she’ll go. She knows that just because the door is open, it doesn’t mean she can go out; she waits for us to step out or in first and follows – unlike some dogs. Only on the first night in the house did she ever mess inside. She doesn’t bark at dogs or people unnecessarily – like some dogs do.

She’s nervous of people, it’s a characteristic of her breed, not the fact that she’s a Rescue Dog. She’s excitable, she’s a hunting dog, nothing to do with the fact that she’s a Rescue Dog.

“You never know a Rescue dog’s history” you say, feeling smug that you got yours from an expensive breeder and have pedigree papers proving that his mother was Queen Patty and his father was Sir Pan. Bella was given a second chance by someone who knew they couldn’t give her the life she deserved. We’ve given her a loving family and friends, she doesn’t need to look back to the past!

So please don’t put our Bella in your ‘class system’ of dogs; discrimination is dead!  

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Ins & Outs of Boarding Kennels - and my purse!

The downside of owning pets is having to make two holiday bookings if you can’t take them with you! The next human excursion won’t exactly be a ‘holiday’ but a necessary long weekend away from home. I doubt whether Bella will think being away from us, being fed by strangers, having many noisy house-mates and no home comforts, will be a holiday!

An earlier seaside holiday!
Choosing a home-from-home for man’s best friend is not easy. In South Africa, in the interests of ‘home security’, one pays a house-sitter who will also feed, walk and clean up after your animals, in the comfort of the animal’s own home.  In the UK the security risk is a little lower in many areas, so we need to look at kennels.

Nothing like a bit of love!
Three of us set off to two local kennels to check them out!  It was a Thursday during an entire week of rain, but the morning had stayed dry. We walked into reception to be hit by that characteristic doggy smell, not a good start! (Vet surgeries don’t smell doggy and not even the Rescue centre smelled doggy!) Before the usual question of breed came up, one lady came straight out with, “I’d say there’s some Shiba Inu there!”  

For a complete stranger, who knows her dogs, this was quite a surprise to us and at the same time a confirmation of what we thought. So for the next five minutes we talked Shiba Inu characteristics – just enough time for the rain to gather so that when we toured the kennels we managed to get soaked!  Bella was left with a dog-sitter while we walked round and she did us proud by not growling or crying as we walked away leaving her leash in the hands of a complete stranger!

Got to climb!
By the time we got to the second kennels, she remembered the drill and once again sat quietly with a dog-sitter while we were taken around – still in the rain. These kennels have infra-red lamps for heating (although it probably won’t be necessary in summer!), and “hammock beds” – not that they hang from trees, and I’m not too sure how Bella will feel sleeping a little elevated, although she does like to climb!

The fees for both kennels were about the same, except that the second one had a half-day charge, which was a plus.  The first kennels didn’t insist on the dogs having the Kennel Cough vaccine, which was a little worrying.  The second was also closer to home (and the golf driving range!), so with the score 3-0 to the Second Kennels, it was decided.  This decision was celebrated by one human hitting 30 little white balls across a piece of grass with distance markers scattered down the centre!  Bella tried to shake the rain off numerous times from the car to the undercover driving range ‘kennels’. She doesn't usually bother with rain, however, the reverberating ‘clonk’ of several golf clubs against white balls sent her scampering under the bench behind my legs. It was time to swim back to the car and wait patiently while listening to the soothing sounds of BBC Radio Suffolk!

At home I made the vet appointment for her Kennel Cough vaccine and (stupidly) asked how much it would cost! £36?!  Bella’s ‘holiday’ is going to cost more than ours at this rate!  Her appointment is next week – I have a few days to plan a ‘discount attack’!!

(  November/December issue of the Kennels and Cattery Management Magazine.)