A puppy for Christmas

2011-12-22 00:00

A FEW years ago, the manageress of a reputable animal shelter told me that in order to cope with the stress of euthanasing dogs and cats, virtually on a monthly basis, she would have to numb herself with alcohol after work and see a psychologist the next day. No matter how hard she tried to find new homes, there were always those that had to be euthanased due to financial constraints. She told me that the reason for her mental anguish was seeing the dogs come to her with tails wagging and then having to watch them die after administering the lethal injection. Even though the process is quick and painless, she told me tearfully, that with every goodbye it was as if a small part of her died as well. Many of these dogs were young and healthy, and if kept for a little longer would have found new owners.

If people make a point of donating and supporting their local bona fide animal shelters, fewer animals would face an early demise. Understandably, many households are currently under financial pressure. However, we must also understand that no matter how good their intentions are, these institutions can only do so much. Christmas is a time for giving and your donations can ensure that many animals do not head for an early grave. Nowadays it is so simple to get banking details to make contributions.

I have shared the above because of the festive season. People will be shopping for presents and inevitably some of these gifts will be puppies. Fortunately, in a number of cases acquisitions will be made responsibly by people who did their homework. These puppies or rehomed dogs will be adequately cared for mentally and physically, becoming loyal companions and protectors.

However, there will also be those puppies or dogs going to homes where decisions are driven by emotion and a lack of maturity. If mental and physical needs are not met appropriately, these pets will jump on people, cars and furniture causing injury, destruction and possibly even death. They will escape off properties, bite children, adults or other creatures. They will bark incessantly, rip washing off the line and dig up the garden. They will urinate or defecate indoors, on decks, driveways, be difficult to transport and scared of thunder or loud noises. Many of these unfortunate pets will end up being rehomed or euthanased due to the stress and expense they caused their owners. Sometimes rehoming is not an option due to running off properties and getting killed in traffic, or by other dogs, or just never to be seen again.

Quite often when I see people are taking their pets for granted I remind them of the times when their spirits were lifted by their canine friends, or how they go to sleep safely every night while Rex and Sheba are protecting the property.

If it is your intention to acquire a new puppy or a rehomed dog, please make sure there is sufficient planning and understanding before the process commences. Should you be a first-time pet owner or looking to get an older dog, then speak to people who have everyone’s best interests at heart. Don’t make, or repeat mistakes. By behaving responsibly you will never be in a position one day thinking over and over: “If only … if only.”

If you are unsure, feel overwhelmed, or need assistance please feel free to contact me or your vet’s practice.


• Steve van Staden is a canine behaviour specialist who can be contacted at 083 340 8060 or visit www.dogtorsteve.co.za

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