“Dad, Why can’t we get a dog as well?”

By: Stephen Morgan

It’s the usual thing every Parent goes through from time to time I guess.

“Daaaad, why can’t we get a dog?”

“Well son it’s like this, they take a lot of caring, they’re a big responsibility, they need feeding (this is starting to sound like a job description for Parenthood in general I know), and they need someone to walk them on cold dark winter nights.” Hit them hard with the triple mantra of “Dog Health, Dog Grooming and Dog Training” I thought, that will do the trick……..

So four weeks later there I was heading with my sister in law to the nearest branch of the Dogs Trust to check out some abandoned puppies from a litter that had been taken in before Christmas and were coming up to eleven weeks old and it was crunch time.

“What sort of dog were you looking for sir and what sort of experience have you had with dogs? We will need to take out references and check out where the dog is going to live, whether it is safe.” Heck, this was starting to sound like a job interview with the local bank not some search for an abandoned pooch.

It would possibly have been easier to pack a suitcase full of cash and hop on the next plane to some third world country and come home with a baby – a contentious view point I know but says more about the shoddy approach to most Intercountry Adoptions but I digress.

Five minutes later there I was walking round the inner courtyard of what sounded like canine hell. There is something deeply tragic about the way we treat our pets in this world (marginally better then we treat our fellow humans I know) and unless we stop treating pets and dogs especially with the same disposable mentality that we use when buying our next cheeseburger it is only going to get worse.

Trying to take a reasoned and rational approach to what can only be best described as a display of truly pathetic (in the truest of senses) wretchedness is extremely difficult. The Dogs Trust is wonderful organisation that copes, alongside numerous others, in a much challenged environment, with a miniscule budget and essentially damaged goods. It is a hard task to manage in a situation whereby the credo of the organisation is “we do not destroy any dogs” means that there is an ever increasing strain on budgets. The upshot of all of this is that you find yourself in a canine equivalent of a used car showroom but without the shiny cars, heating and cheap aftershave to keep you company.

It is a very functional environment whereby the dogs are well cared for, fed, kept warm, safe, dry and medically cared for but the Ritz Carlton it is not. The dogs are kept in pens with wire partitions and once one starts barking the rest join in for what seems to be the fun of it. The inhabitants of this canine community seem to recognise what is going on and pathetically struggle to out muscle, out do, and generally create as much interest in them as possible. Of course there is always the compete opposite, the really damaged ones who seem to have lost all interest in human contact remembering not too fondly the lack of humanity or brutality that led them to be here in the first place.

Interesting choice, I thought, feeling rather guilty at the fact that no matter what choice I made there were going to be at least forty or fifty of these frantic barking creatures that would be left here waiting for a better draw from the “lottery of fate” on another day.

I was very aware of the fact that the main driving force behind this choice was the fact that I had a seven year old son who was probably going to be the dogs main companion over the course of it’s life and therefore it would be an idea to find a dog that got on well with humans (not as easy as you think) and kids especially.

Yes, you got it; we ended up with a puppy, a cross between a Black Labrador and a Border collie (we think). It was one of those tragically funny situations when I looked at the paperwork and there it was in front of me, “Mother – Black Labrador, Father – unknown”. Apparently, the litter had been taken in before Christmas and though the mother was acquired at the same time and therefore known, the “likeliest suspect” for the Father apparently was a working dog at the nearest farm thereby giving rise to the “Border Collie, we think” routine.

As most dog owners will testify, despite feeling as if I had accomplished a great deal, it was only the beginning.

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Steve Morgan is a father to seven year old Sam and the family have recently acquired Elmo, a Black Labrador Border Collie Cross. 50 lbs of Fun, Fur and Destruction. Further Information can be found at www.nutsaboutpets.info plus dogtraininguk.blogspot.com/

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