Are you looking for a family dog? Wondering whether to buy a puppy or rehome an older dog? Here is my story, and I hope you find it helpful…
The past three months have been a steep learning curve for me. Following the death of our old dog last summer, I was pining for a new furry companion, and I wanted to rescue another dog. The task proved harder than I imagined because rehoming centres in the UK have very strict policies about how they rehome their dogs. Some are reluctant to offer dogs to families with young children, others simply have ridiculous requirements that most people are unable to fulfill. Then they wonder why the dogs develop anxiety, aggression and other difficult behavioural traits. But that’s just my experience.
Anyway, we did find a dog that needed a home. His name is Marley, and he is almost 3 years old. He never went into the dogs’ home, his previous owner contacted them for help and that’s how we found him. Marley has never been in kennels to my knowledge. I thought he would be easy to settle in. His previous owner assured me that he was friendly with other dogs, that he was relaxed with children, and that he was generally easy going. That is not our experience! He is wonderful with our children, which is a huge relief. He lets them pull him around and he never snaps at them in anger. He does like to play rough, however, so we have to watch what he does. And he steals their toys and eats them. He has chewed up a variety of Playmobil and Lego pieces so far, some Barbie accessories and some teddies. He just wants to play! I spend a lot of time watching him around the house and moving things out of his reach when the children neglect to tidy them away properly.
Another challenge we discovered was that Marley can jump very high. He cleared the two-foot fences in our back garden despite being overweight when he came to us. We have now spent over £1000 on new fencing to secure the back garden and keep him contained. He still tries to escape though, so we have to watch him when he is outside. And he is not allowed in our front garden because he jumps over the wall and runs across the road. I am constantly on alert with this dog! We did have our garden checked by the people at the dogs’ home, and they thought it was secure at the time, so be aware that all dogs are unpredictable. Now that we have rectified that dilemma, I am learning to discipline Marley while out walking. He has clearly not been socialised with other dogs, and he gets very snappy and aggressive. I believe he is being defensive due to anxiety, and I hope that he will settle eventually. For now I have invested in a Halti harness and a training lead which made a huge difference to his behaviour. I can now easily control him when he tries to lunge forwards, and he doesn’t bark as much when he is wearing it.
My previous dog was rescued from the streets, but we had him a few years before our children came along. We had time to devote to settling him in and training him, and he proved to be a wonderful family dog. Marley is also a wonderful family dog, but he is a work in progress. He must have been lonely and bored in his previous home, but now we are setting boundaries, giving him time to adjust, and giving him attention, which is what he needs. Please consider rehoming a rescue dog but be fully aware of the time and work involved in settling a dog. The same could be said for buying a puppy. Ultimately, having a dog is like having a child. They are wonderful when they behave, not so much when they are hard work. Be prepared, put the effort in, and you will have a loving companion that will always be there with cuddles and smiles. Dogs are great for keeping you busy and they are fantastic therapy aids.
Do you have a rescue dog? Are you considering getting a dog? Please share your experiences.
Catherine is the author of the adult paranormal romance series The Redcliffe Novels and also The Darkness of Love, She has short stories published in YA anthologies, freelance articles on various industry websites, and contributes to her personal blog, and her author blog .