This is how I found DS and the New Dog on the sofa the other night. They both look quite comfy don’t they?
DS is almost eight, and growing like a weed. In contrast we’ve only had the New Dog almost 9 months now, and he hasn’t grown at all, except in confidence. It’s hard to believe that this time last year he was still on the streets of Ireland. A few days later he was picked up as a stray and found himself in the pound. Seven days after that, no one had claimed him so he was on the list for euthanasia at the busiest time of the year for pounds and shelters.
Things didn’t look good, but he was one of the lucky ones.
A Hertfordshire based rescue called Heathlands Animal Sanctuary rescues dogs from the Irish pounds and brings them back to England, where they are put into foster homes. Here they can be assessed for what kind of home will suit them best ( Cats? Kids? Other dogs?) and receive some basic training.
The New Dog was picked up by this rescue and spent three months in a foster home before he came to us. He’d never been in a house before and wasn’t toilet trained. Since coming to us he hasn’t had a single accident and he has proven himself to be a great house dog and wonderful around the kids.
If you are in the market for a family dog then please do consider rescuing, rather than buying from a breeder.
And if you live close enough, have a look at the dogs Heathlands has up for adoption, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to find a dog like ours.
If not and you have a few spare pounds, Heathlands are always desperate for donations as it costs money to move these dogs around, house and feed them. They also pay to have them neutered if necessary, vaccinated and microchipped.
You can’t save all the dogs, but your help might matter a lot to just one.
This week I bought my dogs pyjamas.
Actually, they aren’t pyjamas. The company that makes them calls them jumpers, but they are more like a onesie and are perfect for putting on wet, muddy dogs after long winter walks.
You load them up in the car all dirty and soaking wet, and by the time you get home they are clean and dry and your car isn’t too messy either. The jumpers need a wash of course, but they are much easier to wash than the dogs are.
Our older dog is fine with his but our younger one just froze in place when we tried his on. Look at that face, he’s wondering what on earth I’ve done to him!
We’ve had a bit of rain this week, so one of the dogs decided the ground was soft enough to dig a hole in the woods and try and climb down inside it.
I’m pretty sure he could smell or hear something crawling around underground as he eventually dug a series of holes in a line. He was completely caked with mud by the time he’d finished.
My dogs never learn. I can’t take muddy dogs inside for a nice warm bath or shower, so they end up under a cold hose in the garden. Neither of them enjoy the experience.
We have two mixed breed dogs, both of them from a rescue that plucks dogs out of dog pounds in Ireland and transports them to the UK for a second, or sometimes third or fourth, chance.
I like Heathlands because they don’t have a blanket policy about children’s ages, their dogs go into foster homes, not kennels and they seem to be very good at matching dogs with owners. Neither of the dogs we have at the moment were dogs that I rang Heathlands about; they were both suggested as possibilities once I spoke to the rehomers about our family situation.
I like that we have rescue dogs. It makes me feel good that we are willing to take a dog that no one else wants and give it a home. I have paid for privately breed pups in the past and I have owned purebreds, but I don’t think I will ever own another pedigree or non-rescue dog again. Never say never, of course but I feel like I was given a second chance at a particular point in my life and owning rescue dogs is my way of passing it on. I like the fact that I can save a life or two in this way and it’s great to have a story to share with people so they can see that not all rescue dogs have problems.
I also like having mixed breed , or mongrel, dogs. It’s like a canine lucky dip as you never quite know what you are getting. Your dog is unique.
It’s a great talking point when you are out walking and it seems everyone wants to know what kind of dog you have. Even if you’ve never wondered about the parentage of your mixed-breed dog, after a few months of every Tom, Dick and Sally playing ‘Spot the Breed’ with your beloved pooch, you’ll find yourself curious too. That’s when a DNA test can come in useful.
We used Wisdom Panel DNA test because their data base includes information on over 180 different breeds from America and the UK. If your dog comes from Europe or a country with non KC registered breeds, then your dog’s ancestry is less likely to be accurate. The test costs between £50-60 and you get sent a form to fill out that asks for your dog’s name, sex and weight. Along with the form are two swabs, and you try to rub these along the inside of your dog’s cheeks in order to collect some cheek cells (DNA). I found this was easier for our older dog, he was pretty calm about it but our younger dog tried to chew on the swab so we had a bit of a tussle. Still, I did manage to get usable samples.
Once I’d posted the swabs, I activated the test online and waited for a couple of weeks until I got an email saying that our dogs’ results were in.
This is our eldest dog. He’ll be 3 next month. He came to us from Heathlands as a puppy, as his German Shepherd mum came out of an Irish pound with two older puppies at foot. She had been handed into the pound by her owner ‘because she keeps having puppies’ and when the vet went to spay her, he discovered she was heavily pregnant again.
B and his 4 brothers and sisters were born in a foster home, so he came to us after having a great start in life. Even without knowing his mum was a German Shepherd, you would probably be able to make a good guess at that part of his ancestry but what else can you see in him?
According to Wisdom Panel B has a German Shepherd parent and a parent that is 1/2 rough Collie and a little less than 1/2 St Bernard. You can see the Collie in his face, but while he’s tall he’s nowhere as big as a St Bernard. He does have strangely waterproof coat though, mud and water just wipe off him and we call him our Teflon dog.
This is our younger dog.
He was picked up on the Irish streets as a stray, brought to England and lived in a foster home for 3 months before he came to us in March. He acts like a teenage dog but has not grown at all since coming to England so he’s probably about 18 months old.
He’s not an obvious combination but most of the guesses made involved Collies, Huskies and Beagles. His DNA test proved he is a real mix of breeds. Neither of his parents were purebred. One was a Labrador/ something cross and the other was a Siberian Husky/ something cross. The ‘somethings’ seem to be mostly Collie and Kerry Blue, but there are a number of other breeds mentioned in smaller proportions.
F is energetic, but bright and very trainable. He also has a annoyingly piercing loud bark.
For us DNA tests have satisfied our curiosity about what breeds make up the canine members of our family. Knowing what we are dealing with has helped us think about the training, handling and health issues of our boys, and as a bonus we can finally answer correctly when people ask us ‘What kind of dog is that?’