There have been reports in the UK news that demand for puppies has exploded during the pandemic. Families who might have been considering getting a dog decided that lockdown was a good time to do it, and others may have lost family pets due to old age and needed a new companion.
I am an advocate for rescue dogs, although I recognise the challenges for families with young children. Our previous family dog was a Staffydoodle named Baxter, and we found him in the City Dogs’ Home in Stoke-on-Trent a few years before having children. He was the perfect family dog, living up to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s nickname as the “nanny dog.” Baxter sadly died in 2019 but his legacy lives on, which is why I wrote this article. Today marks two years since his passing.
In December 2019 we welcomed another rescue dog into our family, and yes, another Staffordshire Bull Terrier crossbreed. Marley did not spend time in kennels, but his owners approached Warrington Animal Welfare, which is how we found him. He was overweight and very boisterous, and we soon realised that while he was house trained, his behaviour needed serious attention. Marley had us in a state of high alert for the first three months that he lived with us, resulting in us having to pay for new and better fencing in our back garden, and investing in a Halti harness and lead to walk him in public. He was aggressive with other dogs, he escaped from the garden or house at every opportunity, and he was loud.
I persevered, however, and during the first lockdown in 2020, I enrolled Marley on a dog training course with a local company. They were able to tutor us via Zoom, YouTube videos and live video calling, and the exercises kept my daughters and I busy during those long, lonely months at home. Gradually we saw an improvement in Marley’s behaviour and now, twelve months on, I have reached a point where I can safely let him off his lead when we are walking in the fields or along the canal path near our home. He no longer attacks other dogs, his recall is excellent, and he doesn’t feel the need to escape from our garden now that he is settled. We even took the plunge and brought home two kittens recently, and Marley has behaved brilliantly with them.
Adopting a rescue dog comes with special challenges but I guarantee if you give the dog time and space to adjust, you will not regret bringing them home. I bonded with Marley very quickly, unable to resist his teddy bear charm, his grinning face, and his exuberance for life. He is my baby boy, even though he is four years old. You can find puppies from places like the Dogs’ Trust or your local animal shelter, but you must be quick. I did try to adopt a puppy from a rescue centre, but it turned out the owner was not willing to give her up. Don’t let one unpleasant experience put you off. Your dog is waiting for you.
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 .