Barking Blondes: How committed are you to your dog?
We sat gripped in our studio this week as a listener came on air asking for help. Returning home to the UK from Spain with his two Spanish water dogs, this chap was unable to find any dog-friendly, rented accommodation.
Rather than part with his dogs, the three of them were sleeping in his car. After a few days, in order to be free to seek employment, he arranged, as a temporary measure, for the dogs to be cared for at Battersea Dogs Home in Windsor. It was then suggested, that for all their sakes, the dogs be re-homed.
His vulnerability of being homeless, unemployed and without his best canine friends, he knew that there was nothing he could do but resort to a dog friendly campsite and a small tent which they now call home. We’re hoping his luck changes as autumn approaches. Even the dogs, happy to be with their master, might flinch at an English winter huddled together in a small tent. A far cry from sunnier Spanish climes!
It set us thinking about owners’ total commitment to their dogs. This listener’s display of total loyalty and literally prioritizing them over his own creature comforts, sends a message to us all, that a dog is for life. August is National Dog Adoption Month, reminding us that thousands of dogs aren’t as lucky. Too many are discarded when times get tough, reflecting our throw away attitudes in today’s society and a reliance of the safety net that are ‘rescue centres’ to pick up the pieces. The problem is these centres are at bursting point.
We’d jump through hoops of fire for our bull breeds, Molly and Matilda. When they joined us in the studio for our weekly radio show, we’d face disgruntled emails about dog hair in the studio. Some claiming sudden allergic reactions and dry cleaning bills. We’d rally these objections against the odds somehow ensuring that the girls would remain with us live on air.
We admit our girls are spoilt, but that’s our priority, the lengths to ensure their well being, is our choice. Trips abroad, hours away from the flat, all of these are no longer options because we have taken on the responsibility of ownership. As pet ‘guardians’ it’s up to us to navigate life’s ups and downs with your dog by your side. It’s a bit like a marriage that needs working at - through thick and thin.
Sometimes we hear of circumstances beyond our control that means relinquishing our best friend. A baby is planned… or an allergy to dog hair emerges. But many of these events could have been foreseen and accounted for.
Our local Big Issue seller and his girlfriend have just split up. She took the dog. It’s strange to now see him, standing alone, outside the supermarket, without his gorgeous staffie/cross on her blanket by his side. But every Sunday, he buys a train ticket and he travels to the countryside to see her. Why?
“My ex is not as healthy as me,” he confided. “ I want to check the dog is being exercised. Otherwise she gets snappy.”
That’s responsible dog ownership and commitment. Not the cheque book psychology of paying others to nurture.
‘Barking Blondes’ by Anna Webb & Jo Good, published by Hamlyn, £12.99
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