Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Adopt Your Next Dog!

Last night I met two friends for dinner. All three of us are involved in dog rescue, with special interest in Greyhounds. As I walked through the restaurant parking lot, I noticed a bright red minivan decorated with white paw marks and a sign that read, "Adopt Your Next Dog". I assumed that the van belonged to one of my friends. When I asked, they both laughed. It didn't belong to either of them. We agreed that it was encouraging to know that someone else in the restaurant was also deeply involved in dog rescue.

I understand that the fascinating diversity of dog breeds would disappear if it weren't for dog fanciers who breed and show. However. Show-breeders are vastly outnumbered by puppy mills and backyard breeders. If you absolutely, positively must have a pure-bred puppy, do your research and find the most responsible breeder who is active in the show world. Otherwise, there is no excuse for contributing to the misery of innocent dogs by purchasing a puppy from a pet store or a breeder who has no real knowledge about the breed they are selling.

I am constantly amazed at dogs that turn up at shelters and rescues. A gorgeous Belgian Tervuren was recently placed for adoption by Pet Orphans of Southern California. (Sorry. I am having difficulty providing hot links. However, there is a link to Pet Orphans under "Rescues" on the right side of the screen.) Anyone willing to take a little time can find just about any pure-bred dog that needs a home.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hello Again

As a writer, I pride myself in being able to switch from one mode of writing to another without too much effort. But my absence from Friends of Portia is eloquent testimony to my failure to do so in recent weeks.

However, you will be relieved to know that even in a totally different mode of writing, I was not dog-less. I have been spending quality time with Trinket the Red Setter and Princess the black-and-white Spaniel. I hope to introduce you to them before too long.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

About Your New Dog

The Twelve Days of Christmas are not over, but I'm guessing that already, shelters and rescues are being given canine Christmas gifts--not the monetary gifts that they need and deserve, but puppies and dogs who were given as gifts and have now been found to have inconvenient needs.

The more hurried our lives become, the less time there is for the consistent, routine care that domestic pets require in order to thrive and become the faithful companions they were meant to be. Because of their natural affiliation with people, dogs suffer especially from inconsistency and neglect. And dogs are capable of expressing their distress in particularly destructive ways.

Every dog person I know has their tale of doggie destruction. These are people who love and understand dogs and do all they can to ease the adjustment of a newly acquired canine into their home. But in spite of their best efforts, disaster happens. It's always the freshly upholstered chair with designer fabric out of which the new dog eats a gaping hole. Dogs aren't fools. They know designer fabric tastes better than bargain stuff. Our living room coffee table still sports Portia's teeth marks. It's made of fine pear wood. My mother purchased it in July, 1957.

It really is best to come to terms with the fact that a new dog--no matter how well behaved, no matter how diligent you are in training--will spoil something that you treasure. So be realistic. Expect it.

Any dog, be it show-stock pure-bred or Animal Control rescue, will require time and patience. Dogs love routine. Do all you can to keep your household calm. Choose a positive training method. Read all you can about the breed(s) of your dog. A terrier has very different inbred behavioral tendencies from a spaniel, retriever or setter. Toys are notoriously difficult to house train. Some dogs are highly food motivated. Some aren't. Go slowly with introductions to new people and new dogs that aren't already part of your household.

Rescues have issues. Count on it.

Give your dog six months.

They're worth it.