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A cautionary tale

Let me tell you a story, one of those about an abused dog who found a home. However, whilst this tale may have a happy ending ...

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A cautionary tale

Date Posted: 27 Mar 2018 << back to blog list

Let me tell you a story, one of those about an abused dog who found a home.  However, whilst this tale may have a happy ending, it hasn’t come without consequence for those around so it is perhaps a cautionary one.  
Neo has been with us for 4 years now, having initially been a foster dog from Romania. The hideous pictures of his abuse had touched my heart which of course, over ruled my head. After all, I’m a behaviour consultant and used to fostering dogs so how hard could it be? To borrow a line from a film “big mistake, huge”. It’s easy to see the physical scars on a social media video, it’s the mental ones that remain hidden until the dog arrives in your home. And no matter how experienced you are, the impact it can have on your family, dogs and friends can be a game changer. Saving a dog from a public shelter or the streets may pull on the heart strings but it also means taking in a total stranger with possible mental health issues. And it is not only you who the dog has to live with, it’s the whole family.
In the last week the rescue media have been all about the RSPCA ‘raid’ on a Romanian dog rescue facility in the UK. It is not my position to take sides as I am not privy to all the facts but I question as to why so many dogs are brought over into kennel environments every month and what percentage find permanent homes? How many other similar rescue centres are there?  Do they have RBU (rescue back up if something goes wrong)? Are all dogs guaranteed to be free of disease and fully vaccinated?  A client of mine recently told me she paid around £300 for her Croatian pup, yet the average price for a Battersea or Dogs Trust adoption is £135. At least if you adopt from these charities, you have to go through the process of being matched to the right pet for your lifestyle and a healthy one at that.  Yet hundreds of Eastern European dogs continue to be transported into the UK every month in the hope for a better life.  Facebook ideology will lead to believe that all these dogs need is love but at what cost to your family life? And your bank balance? So why are so many choosing to go abroad to find their dog instead of adopting at home? 
Recently I watched a TV program about a group of people being left to fend for themselves on a desert island. Now imagine your ex street dog in the same position? A strange environment with others they have never met before but expected to get along with? Add to this some cultural difference and start to build a picture as to why your little social media darling is finding it difficult to settle? When behaviour problems start to arise, who is there to help you? 
Neo has been rehomed 3 times in the last 4 years and returned. The last time we decided that we had no option, he had to stay with us. Like 99% of abused dogs he needed a quiet home with a single person, impossible odds really. So, he stays here. Did we have a choice? No. I was the RBU and the responsibility for Neo was ours. But we have adapted. We have interviewed numerous dog walkers and found the amazing Susan, she was his choice. Neo has learnt to go in a crate when our housekeeper comes in or when we have guests (this is now a rare occasion). Having our families to stay for any extended period is a problem and even a dinner party means Neo has to be crated and removed from the room. Neo wears a muzzle in public because although he has never bitten outside the home, his fear of people means we cannot trust him. As much as I love our Neo, he has turned our lives upside down at times. At least on the plus side, he is happy to be with other dogs which in our house is an obvious advantage. If Neo had come straight from Romania and placed in a less experienced home, the chances of him not being destroyed would be slim to none. 
When we decided to put our house on the market, it was because I wanted to not only take a step away from what has been a 20-year career helping others but also to have some time to enjoy my dogs in a safe environment. Finding a few acres out in the countryside for Neo to explore freedom without a muzzle and for Aragorn to run without me worrying about strange dogs appearing means freedom for us as well. But, and there is a but. We still need to find someone who Neo trusts enough to stay in house when we go on holiday and the issue of friends and family staying is still one to be addressed but we will get there. 
I wait for the inevitable backlash from animal lovers as to my lack of understanding about rescue dogs. Yo, I have 7 of them. Everyone has come to us because another human abandoned them or couldn’t cope with the challenge so I think expertise would start here. Neo has a chance at life here even at a compromise to ourselves at times. Despite the ‘happy’ ending, the point of the story is a cautionary one. Think with your head as well as your heart and explore what may be available right here at home before you take the leap. I know many foster carers whose rescues have learnt how to settle in a home environment, been neutered and health checked and will give rescue back up when needed. Yes, you will have to go through a similar application process as charities like the Dogs Trust have but the chances of you and your adopted canine finding mutual bliss is surely better odds?

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A cautionary tale

Let me tell you a story, one of those about an abused dog who found a home. However, whilst this tale may have a happy ending ...

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