Continuing my search for a dog, the next rescue centre I tried was just how I remembered it, when I adopted Little Monkey, Madam and TJ from there many years ago.
Everyone was very friendly and very helpful. I got to walk round all the kennels and go in those that had dogs I was interested in.
The first time I went there, I liked this dog, Blackie, and he liked me. But he was far too big. He just reminded me of my first boy, Jack. Happily, he was adopted not long after I saw him.
I also liked, Snowy, a white retriever cross, shown below. His story was that he had been owned by a gardener, but when the dog became infested with fleas and suffered an allergic reaction, losing all the hair on his back, the owner brought him in to be treated. The people here at the rescue centre sorted out all his problems, but the owner no longer wanted him back, so they kept him and neutered him, ready for adoption.
Like I said, I quite liked him, but wasn’t sure. I could see that his teeth were bad, which meant I was looking at several thousand Rand straight off to get them sorted out and cleaned. Also, he had had a lump removed when they neutered him. Although it wasn’t cancerous, it made me think there would be more in the future and also that the dog was older than the 7 years that they thought. Finally, he was allergic to flea spit, which meant he was probably allergic to other stuff too, like many Golden Retrievers, particularly some gorgeous ones I know from dog class. This would mean special expensive food. Later I read the updated info about this dog on their website and they said that he got along fine with other dogs, if they knew the rules, and if they didn’t, he would show them! Reading between the lines, this dog would be more work than I was looking for at this time.
So I was not totally committed to Snowy, but would have taken him for a walk to see. However, he was adopted while I was dithering – and I was fine with that.
I realised I was just not ready to adopt another dog yet. I needed more time to grieve for Little Monkey.
In the meantime this same rescue centre organised a dog walk on my local green belt. Anyone could go along, make a donation and walk a dog, if they wished, with a volunteer. So my husband and I went along to support them. We ended up walking this little dog, Chappie.
Though he was the right size, he was young, only about two years old, and also quite an anxious dog. You might not be able to tell from the blurry photos, but I calmed him down by getting him to sit and holding my hand on his chest.
He visibly relaxed, but he was using up all my energy! So he wasn’t the right dog for me either.
I went back to this particular rescue centre twice more, looking for two specific dogs. One had since been adopted, but this Border Collie cross, Miss Feisty, was still there.
I was so sure that this would be the one that I prepared our home in advance, so she could come back with us. I got out all the dog mats and bedding, food and bowls. I took a de-flea tablet with me and many treats, and in the car I put the dog towels, safety harness, lead and collar.
They are so accommodating at this place that they said I could take the dog home for a week to see how it went before deciding. We got to see the young two year old Border Collie cross in a special play area. I did all my checks with her; things I do to assess the dog and her reactions to me, such as touching ears, feet; and other things. She passed, and even if she wasn’t overly affectionate, that was fine.
So I was all set to take her home, when the guy helping us suggested we take her for a walk on the beach*. Even better!
So we put Miss Feisty in the car, strapped her in and headed for the nearby beach. She wasn’t used to travelling in a car and turned round so many times that she twisted her lead into a knot! Once at the beach I got her out of the car and tried to walk calmly down to the sands, but she was super excited and pulled a lot on the lead. They use a harness with a double lead, so it is very hard to stop them pulling with this, but I did my best.
Once on the beach I walked around slowly so Miss Feisty could sniff all the seaweed and lovely doggie smells. Farther down the beach I could see other dogs from this rescue centre being walked off-lead. They all looked well behaved and calm. I didn’t want to let Miss Feisty off the lead, as she didn’t know me and I didn’t want to risk her running off!
As the large German Shepherd crosses approached us, I wasn’t worried at all, as I could see that they were minding their own business and quite calm. Suddenly Miss Feisty lunged at them, barking, clearly meaning to attack! This was much worse than Little Monkey, who would have reacted and leapt in the air out of fear, never aggression.
I corrected her instantly by turning her away and making her sit. Fortunately, the large dogs passed us by, no problem, but it would have been a different story had they decided to react to the lunge! My husband said, “Well that’s all right; you corrected her and she listened.”
But no. It is fairly easy to correct behaviour such as pulling on the lead. Wanting to attack other dogs is far more serious, as it’s the innate character of the dog and would take a lot of work to change. Ten years ago, I might have considered adopting her (though none of my six were this bad). However, I am not prepared to take this on any more. I simply don’t have the energy. So it was a no to Miss Feisty.
It is both physically and emotionally draining to keep going and looking at these dogs. It exhausts me. Many people won’t go to rescue centres because they feel so sorry for the dogs there. Yes of course I feel sorry for them and wish I could give them all a home, but it is much, much worse on the outside, as you can read below. All these dogs are very well cared for. They are fed, groomed, given veterinary care, have their behavioural problems addressed and are oh so loved. This particular centre has a high turn around and finds many good forever homes for its dogs and cats every month.
I haven’t given up and still view all the dogs available on their website. So far the dogs are either too big, too small, too young or too difficult.
I am looking for a calm, middle-aged dog, with minimal problems. Every rescue dog has some baggage, but it depends what exactly, and how much effort and energy is required to change the behaviour.
And I’d rather have no dog than the wrong dog.
So in the mean time I thought of something else to do while I was waiting for the perfect Doggo for me, and you can read about that in the next chapter.
If you missed the first chapter, you can read it here – Waiting for Doggo!
ALL THE DOGS MENTIONED IN THIS POST HAVE SINCE BEEN ADOPTED. HOORAY!
*There used to be grassy areas around this rescue centre, where you could walk the dogs and get to know them a bit better. The townships have since grown around the rescue centre, right up to the gates. We were advised not to walk there any more, as dog walkers had been mugged. So the beach it was.
Another thing while I’m talking about the townships. Most of the dogs in the rescue centre come from the township. When you adopt a dog, you save that dog and also make room in their centre for another dog in need, which can be taken off the streets. They always say, you are saving two dogs by adopting one.
Sadly, the dogs they are rescuing these days are often severely malnourished and emaciated. With the economy so bad, people in the townships can barely feed themselves, let alone their dogs; yet they keep the dog, tied up in their yard, for security. The dog cannot forage for food for itself and slowly starves.