Dog Tuesday- I want a dog

choose-you-dogWe have been thinking about a dog category for a while so we are starting out this new feature today. How exiting! If you don’t like dogs and prefer cats (or hamsters, crocodiles or snakes) feel free to skip these posts, we don’t mind. We know not everyone loves dogs, and the reptiles out there need some love, too. But for all you cat lovers out there, I wish I’d known some of the tricks for dogs when I had cats – they do work for cats as well. You don’t believe me? Watch this!

Did we get you curious about getting a dog with our 1 year with the dog post (and all the pictures with Micro from the last year)? You have been collecting cute dogs pictures on pinterest, longingly looked at the dogs waiting for their owners outside a shop, talking to random people on the street because they had a cute dog? You did one or all of the above? Then it’s probably time you seriously thought about getting one. Don’t quite know where to start? Fear not, we will give you some ideas.

1. What sort of dog would you like to have – and what sort of dog would like you as a human? Yep, a relationship with your dog is a two-way street. (Actually with a cat as well, but I digress….) If you are not a very active person getting an active breed (= a dog that needs a lot of exercise to be happy) is, sorry to say it, not for you. Example: You have a family with four kids under 10 years and one with AHDS, then a border collie (that is used to herd sheep, and will probably round up all your kids in the living room) is most probably not the right choice. Unless – you are prepared to pay a good dog walker to exercise the dog for you – but would it really be your dog then? But, hey, it’s possible if you really, really like one breed of dog so very much that no other dog would do for you. You will need to budget for it, and plan very carefully, though.

2. You have no idea what sort of breed you would like? No problem, do some reading or even better watch some videos: Dogs 101 has done entertaining short videos about all the different breeds (even rare ones) and gives nice summaries at the end of each clip, so that you can see if that sort of breed is suitable for you lifestyle. Or maybe you’d prefer to download an app to know more? All is possible! How much exercise does the dog need, can I have the dog with kids,  house or flat suitable, how much grooming is needed – all this and more will be answered.

Please, please think about this step very carefully – I meet those people in the dog park, who tell me the dog is too much work and not what they expected and that they will return it. It makes me so incredibly sad. I have seen flyers where people advertise to sell their dog, because they don’t want it any longer. I even met a man who came to the dog park asking if we wanted the dog he was walking, he would give it for free.
How can you even think about returning a dog like a pair of pants that don’t fit? So, pretty please, don’t be that sort of human. Ok? Ok!

And,  because it has to be mentioned, the BBC made a film about dog breeds, what ideas humans have on what dogs should look like, and what it means for the dog. It’s called Pedigree Exposed – and, like in every good movie, there is also a sequel, but start with the first one first. Be prepared when you watch it, though, it’s not an easy film to see. The UK Kennel Club did change some of their regulations afterwards for instance not to (euphemism on) ‘put to sleep’ (euphemism off) Rhodesian Rigdeback puppies that don’t have a ridge, because they carry a genetic mutation…. don’t – even – get – me – started on that subject! This film is the reason why we don’t see big UK dog shows on BBC television, BBC dropped their sponsorship of the dog show.

Micro at the beach

I have no ears – Micro’s first time at the beach

Now you should have an idea which sort of breed will make a good dog companion, and this gives you 2 options:

Option A – get a dog from a (good) breeder

Option B – get a dog from a shelter

Let’s start with option A (just because we wanted to have a dog from the shelter, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have one, too). Start by finding a good, respectable breeder – preferably in your area, but sometimes if you want a rare breed you have to go further afield. The UK Kennel Club has a comprehensive list  – they even have a video (if you don’t like to read through the list) and you can search for the breed you like here, hey they even have an app. For Germany, you can start out here.  In any case: say no to impulse buy bargain counter pups (or Wühltischwelpen in German – had no idea that word existed!). And, because history teaches us that inbreeding is not a great thing for dogs (or humans, that’s why we have those laws), try to avoid breeders who do that. You didn’t know? Read up about the Habsburger family and all their funny genetic happenings like the famous Habsburger jaw.

The famous Jaw here: Charles II of Spain – his mother Mariana of Austria was also the niece of his father Philip IV of Spain

Option B obviously involves looking for a shelter – I would advise to start talking to people who already have rescue animals, to get an idea about what sorts of shelters are out there. There are the big ones such as Battersea, RSPCA or Dog’s Trust (they also have an app), but there are also great smaller ones out there, where people rescue dogs from abroad like Micro’s friend Alfie, who is from the Desperate Greekies. If your heart is set on a breed (and you don’t necessarily want a puppy) you can search for the breed you like + rescue (e.g Vizsla rescue or Greyhoud rescue – I chose those two breeds at random to give you examples).

If you have spotted a dog on a shelter website that you think would be great to meet, it helps if you are well prepared when you visit a shelter. That means, you know what you can offer the dog, where the nearest (dog)parks and vets are (after what happened to Micro’s friend Austin, it does not hurt to know the name and number of the emergency vet as well…), and, if you are renting, if your landlord is fine with you keeping a dog. You will need that piece of paper from the landlord, so better start with that right now, then you can think about moving if they don’t like it…. People from the shelter will also come and do a home visit, and if you pass, you can take your furry friend home. In Germany you will sometimes have to commit to walking the dog for a certain number of times before you can take him home. Don’t think those rules are there to make it hard to get a dog, see it as a trial period for you and the dog. There is a very high number of returns (hate the word in this context) of shelter dogs, and better test it out first, then to make a dog (and possibly you) unhappy. Right?

Option B also comes with a B1 sub-option: you can foster a dog, all shelters have the option of fostering or you could go for this project here (love that idea!).

And here is everything I said above, just in a very cool graphic – unfortunately BarkBuddy does not work outside of the US – does anyone know of a similar app for UK or Germany?

Are you all ready to get started? Did we forget something? And don’t forget to tell us in the comments what you think!

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