The benefits of having a pet are well documented, and if that pet is a dog, one of the benefits is fun. Love and loyalty can be added to the laughter!
I wrote earlier this year about having to farewell Aurora, our beloved dog for almost 14 years and since that sad day, we have missed her companionship, affection and unconditional love.
However, we needed space and time for deep grief and because I wanted to carry out some much-needed maintenance on the house, I set a tentative date for welcoming a new member of the household as the end of May. I didn’t want any new member of our family subjected to a lot of noise and having a daily dose of strangers/strangeness.
Of course, as Rabbie Burns told us all those centuries ago ‘the best-laid plans gang aft agley’.
Centrelink ‘lost’ my pension application and worried about dwindling savings, I put major renovations on hold, plus my daughters never missed a moment in reminding me how empty the house was without Aurora – not that I needed much reminding.
I can’t remember too many periods in my life where I have lived without a dog and even wrote a special post as a writing teacher reminding people to include stories about their pets when writing a memoir or life stories.
SADS Saves Lives and Stands for NO KILL
Since 1985 SADS has saved thousands of dogs and cats from being euthanised — and from day 1 worked towards change from a culture of killing companion animals to a culture of saving them
SADS is an established leader of the no-kill movement — and successfully operate a Melbourne-based regional animal pound on a no-kill basis, demonstrating that a no-kill policy IS possible
SADS provides veterinary care for animals that are sick or injured — including palliative care for animals that still enjoy a good quality of life
In 2015, they saved 98.6% of dogs and 96.3% of cats. Many of these animals would not have been saved by other shelters.
The Yarrambat shelter is set on 33 acres of environmentally protected land with an existing permit for the holding of 190 dogs and 50 cats. It is fully owned by SADS and has enabled many more animals to be saved, cared for and rehabilitated whilst awaiting permanent adoption. However, the infrastructure is old and badly in need of redevelopment to provide better care for our animals and to comply with the code of practice for animal shelters. This property ensures that even the most traumatised and very large active dogs can be saved due to adequate resources.
In accordance with the philosophy and operation of Save-A-Dog Scheme as a “no kill” animal welfare organisation SADS honours its charter and saves all animals, both companion and otherwise, which come into its care, with the unavoidable exception of a very small percentage of animals which are deemed dangerous and therefore cannot be returned to the community. This small percentage is accepted internationally as integral when using the term “no kill”.
This save rate leaves SADS with some dogs and cats which are homeable but which do have characteristics which makes them unsuitable for some homes and therefore they do stay with SADS for a long time waiting for that appropriate person/situation to come along.
We decided to visit SADS with a list of possible adoptees from the website profiles – a list I immediately, ignored once we started looking at the dogs – and they looked at us – every set of eyes pleading to be taken home!
I fell in love with Norbet and Dala – who wouldn’t?
Norbet, a two-year-old, German Wirehaired Pointer X with ” a lovely personality”.
… true to his breed has boundless energy. He is searching for a home where his new human companion can channel that energy in the right direction with training and stimulation. He will not be a dog to leave at home alone all day and may live with another energetic medium size female. Norbet will be great fun and will certainly keep you well exercised! We are currently taking expressions of interest…
Dala, a two-year-old, Foxhound X Beagle “has the typical behaviour of a foxhound”.
… she loves being with people but once a scent comes her way that becomes her main focus! She has a very dominant personality and will need AN ADULT HOME WHERE HER HUMAN COMPANION HAS EXPERIENCE WITH CANINE DOMINANCE. She cannot be left alone during the day as she will become bored and possibly destructive.
It just so happened they were the two most unsuitable pets for me. Physically, I couldn’t control Norbet, a part wolfhound and Dala’s ‘destructive tendencies’ when left alone were a worry.
The shelter is an amazing environment full of caring staff and volunteers and I know Norbet and Dala will be well-cared for by the staff even if the right home isn’t found but I still felt awful that I couldn’t take them.
We visited Stonnington on Thursday of last week and if we could, would have brought home a truckload of homeless dogs!
Unfortunately (or fortunately!), Margaret, the manager was delayed and we couldn’t do anything that day except observe the dogs in their kennels and chat to the volunteer staff who were most helpful.
The Stonnington Shelter received the Citizen of the Year Award for a Community Group – when you see the volunteers in action you can see why – bless each and every one of them!
There was a puppy we were interested in – Xena, plus a young male dog, Russell who apparently was super friendly to all dogs and had adopted Xena when she arrived.
However, when we returned on Sunday, Xena had already been adopted and removed that morning so Russell was in a cage by himself.
The Shelter is situated in an ideal position for dogs – right next to a dog-friendly park. Prospective owners take the dog for a walk supervised by a volunteer and then in an enclosed yard you can play with the dog off-leash.
The last ‘test’ is when volunteers bring out another dog and you can observe how your chosen dog reacts and socialises.
The aim is to ensure you know what dog you are taking home and the Shelter is as sure as they can be of canine and person compatibility.
When we returned to the Shelter on Sunday after a chat with the Manager we ‘park-tested’ several dogs.
The redesigned Tooronga Park was re-opened in 1992 after the construction of the South Eastern Arterial Road and Freeway. A plaque records that ‘redevelopment of the park was made possible by the invaluable contribution of a committee of local residents who assisted in the planning and council staff who implemented their ideas.’
Well done residents and well done Stonnington Council for listening and following through on their promise.
- The play areas for toddlers and older children well-maintained and fenced so that dogs on or off leash will not be a problem.
- There is shade, a basketball ring, a cricket practice cage and concrete paths and grassy areas.
- There are rubbish bins to recycle and free bags for dog poo
The first dog we ‘road-trialled’ was Molly, a four-year-old Labrador with that “wonderful labrador nature.”
… but she becomes very overexcited with very little stimulation! She is need of a lot of training and will not suit a home with small children as she is too boisterous. Her new human companion will need to be physically strong. Molly does not want to be left at home alone all day
Molly was adorable but very strong and although she would settle down after some training, I decided I couldn’t risk walking her on my own because of her strength and determination to reach another dog, even if it was on the horizon.
Friendly Russell (pictured above) was just that and he showed his love of sticks by picking one up and dropping it every few feet. But he was very attached to the lovely volunteer who was our guide – or perhaps it was knowing she kept treats in the bumbag around her waist!
We were taken with Russell, the three-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier X a “happy dog who enjoys the company of both people and other dogs.” His reference said,
He would probably like to live with an easy going female canine who likes to play. As with most of his breed, he will not settle in a situation where he is left alone all day.
After walking Russell, Mary Jane confided she had fallen in love with a puppy, Josie so we asked to take her for a walk too.
Josie a five-month-old (they think) Kelpie X Staffordshire Bull Terrier. She came to Stonnington via another pound and little was known about her history.
Josie was like Aurora reincarnated.
I remembered Anne had said, ‘Mum, a dog will choose us.’
How true that prediction because from the minute we walked Josie, and while sitting with her in the Reception Area until the Manager was free to discuss her adoption, we were enraptured!
Josie snuggled up to each of us – the girls left to get a lead from the car and prepare the back seat, I dealt with the paperwork.
We weren’t the only happy family to adopt.
In the Shelter, there are several older dogs – ten years old, maybe older. I don’t know all their stories but often older dogs have to be adopted because their owner has become infirm or moved into care and they can’t keep their pet.
I felt sorry for the older dogs, many probably grieving a longterm owner but after losing Aurora, I didn’t want take on a dog in its twilight years – some of the dogs may only have two or three years left in their life cycle.
How wonderful then, to see the perfect match for gorgeous little ten-year-old Maxwell, a wirehaired Jack Russell X who had recently arrived at the shelter and was still be assessed.
An elderly couple came in looking for a dog. The lady needed a walker and her aged husband walked slowly too. While we were walking Molly, we observed Maxwell strolling sedately, beside his prospective parents. Such a perfect match!
When we returned from the park with Josie, the elderly couple were leaving, the man’s smile like a sunburst.
‘You taking the little dog?’ I asked.
They both nodded. ‘He’s old like us,’ said the man, ‘not sure how long he has but then we’re not going to be around too much longer either!’
‘I could see you’re made for each other,’ I said.
‘Yep, we’ll be back when he’s been given the okay by the vet.’
Harley, a four-month-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier X Border Collie was ‘bursting with youthful energy, enthusiasm and the desire to be in the middle of the action all the time!’
He tries very hard to please but finds it difficult to sit still for more than a couple of minutes! Harley would very much like to live with another active youthful medium size friend to keep him busy. He will need a more adult home.
A young couple came in with their Staffy to walk and play with Harley with the aim to adopt a companion for their dog – from what we observed Harley was a perfect match but because they lived in an apartment, I’m not sure the Manager of the shelter will approve.
They may be disappointed but I’m glad the shelter is strict about adoptions and put the needs of the animals first.
When we were given the okay, we were told that if for any reason it doesn’t work out, we must bring the dog back to them.
Our Perfect Match
The trip home with Josie in the car, incident free, even although we were warned that she came via another pound and they had no idea how she travelled in a car. ‘Prepare for her to be sick because she was fed recently…’
They also just removed her stitches from desexing.
However, she was the perfect, uncomplaining angel. No scrabbling about, no whining – she snuggled into Anne in the back seat, occasionally stretching her head to peer out the window or respond to clucky and lovey-dovey noises made by Mary Jane and me when the car stopped at traffic lights.
Josie was walked around the immediate neighbourhood after letting her investigate every corner of the backyard and ‘nook and cranny’ inside the house.
Almost immediately, she claimed our house as her home.
We have adopted again and are gloriously happy – thank you SADS – a song from childhood springs to mind:
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!
If you’re happy and you know it, then you really ought to show it;
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!
You then include other actions like stamp your feet… nod your head… turning around…
We did the lot!!
Josie, our new canine companion the best therapy anyone could wish for and here’s to daily ‘happy dances’ as we grow older together!
Today, April 23, is Lover’s Day
A day to celebrate your significant other and let them know how much they mean to you. While the origin of Lover’s Day is a mystery, some sources believe that the unofficial holiday is based on St. George’s Day, a religious holiday celebrated in many parts of Europe.
It doesn’t actually say that ‘your significant other’ must be human.
I’m sure for many people, their pet gives and receives love and is the relationship valued as being the most meaningful.
Josie is now a ‘significant’ partner in my life and considering the horrific news from recent tragedies – whether it be Sri Lanka or Mozambique – I am deliriously happy to have her comforting and loving body sprawled beside me on the couch or walking beside me along the street.
The world would be a more loving and accepting place if we were like our pets – they don’t see our imperfections and their devotion awesome!