At this time of year most people have a New Year Resolution
If yours is to get a Puppy – well done. Health gurus say having to exercise a puppy/dog gives enormous benefits, and one of the best ways of incorporating exercise into your life-style, and getting better.
However, owning a puppy has another side – take note of picture above!
Recently the NHS has come out with research that says owning a PET is very good for our health. Most pets are dogs or cats, with slightly more owning a cat than a dog. If you are thinking of getting a dog, I have been around them all my life, so this might help:
If this is the year you have decided to share your home with a demanding, lovable bundle of joy, research has credited pets with conferring all sorts of health benefits on their owners, from lowering blood pressure to helping us get enough exercise.
Cats are more ‘popular’ but a dog is going to do you more good healthwise, as you have to take them out for walks – no two ways about it.
Biggest benefit is dogs are huggable – what pills give you a such lovely warm glow! They help relieve tension. Research has shown that PAT (Pets as Therapy) dogs that visit hospitals, hospices, old people’s homes, etc. definitely have a calming effect on those they meet, and many pet owners do marvellous work ‘lending’ their dogs for these visits.
FINDING THE RIGHT PUPPY FOR YOU
Think carefully, and please don’t buy a puppy because it looks cute and cuddly. That cuddly bundle grows and grows. It eats (expensively) needs vets as often as we need doctors (and there is no NHS for pets), and can chew you furniture to bits.
Puppies are unexpectedly expensive. Those at the top of the page are typical – all appealing eyes and butter-wouldn’t-melt etc. However, they are capable of biting through electric cables, trying out teeth on the edge of an antique chest so it still has deep indentations, and somehow climbing up curtains to get at a chicken left to cool way out of its reach. All in a few minutes whilst you are in the bathroom. Be warned.
NEVER, ever buy a puppy by Googling puppies for sale.
- You need to know the kennels it comes from;
- do they breed for showing, home ownership or might they be puppy farms?
- How does the pup interact with its Mother (most important if it is going to fit into your home)?.
- does it get on with you and your family? Dogs are like humans, and occasionally they can take a dislike to someone.
- And a good breeder will be able to show you that they have done all the tests possible on its parents, to ensure a healthy long life. As well as ensuring it has all its jabs and health checks; these are expensive and therefore aren’t undertaken by puppy farm owners, leading to potential life-threatening health problems.
If you know the breed you want, go on the website and look up the breed association. Get in touch, and mention you are thinking of buying a pup, and would like help. They are very proud of their breed of dogs, and will be delighted to help you through the minefield of choosing the right dog. Generally their members’ pups will be spoken for before they are even born, so you are going to have to wait for the right pup to come along.
if you want one as soon as possible, then go on the web and look for the breeds’ Rescue charity; sadly, many people today buy a dog, and then for various reasons the dog gets abandoned – and needs a good home. A reputable rescue centre will be able to give you sensible advice, will have had the rescue dog checked for possible health issues, and will take trouble to ensure you get the right dog for YOU and your life-style.
Our family has owned dogs for centuries; they were always around in all sorts and sizes. Grandfather kept Border Terriers (nine when I remember); Grannie favoured German Shepherd Dogs (called Alsations as she was of the World War I generation) and she had 21.
My dog ownership was reduced to a pair at a time; my London home couldn’t fit in more. And I was always very careful to buy a dog that I knew would be right for my life-style.
- Will I be able to give it enough exercise? My terriers needed at least a 5-mile walk a day, otherwise they sulked. However these enforced walks meant I was getting exercise even when I didn’t feel like going out.
- What will it cost to feed?
- Would vet’s bills be high?
- Would its temperament fit in with my life-style? e.g. would it be welcoming to guests?
- Did it need a lot of grooming? Some need up to an hour’s brushing A DAY.
- Living in town, would it become accustomed to neighbourhood noise, or always barking? Or in the country, would it always be escaping to go hunting?
If you’ve never owned a dog before, dog-owning neighbours are probably the best people to ask for advice, They know your area, and where it is possible to walk dogs, know your life-style and if a dog would fit in.
What breed is best?
You may fall in love with a certain breed – nothing wrong with that, except I don’t advise a St.Bernard or Irish Wolfhound if you live in a tiny flat full of china ornaments; there won’t be many of these after the first month.
Many people say get a mongrel (mixture of breeds). These can make marvellous companions.
I, like many others, liked the characteristics of a certain breed, so chose to get one of these.
Either type is a good choice; what you don’t want to do is follow the fashion for ‘new’ breeds. These are dogs who develop from two or more fashionable breeds, are given a ‘designer’ name, and sold at enormous expense to the gullible public. Googling recently I was horrified at the prices these designer breeds cost.
There are well over 200 recognised breeds, and serious owners have developed and refined these to keep the best of characteristics, whilst attempting to eradicate in-bred health issues. When you get a puppy off one of the 200+ plus recognised breeds,; these can take generations to develop; I remember Grannie had had her suspicions about hip displasia in her Alsations, years before this became a recognised problem, and the Met. Police (after breeding over 25,000 German Shepherds) decided to look at other breeds because of health problems, and asked me to be involved in their search for other breeds,
What we don’t yet know with designer breeds is how they will develop, and eventually what health issues they may have. And as they have probably been knocked up to satisfy demand, believe me – there will be a lot.
It’s not fair on a dog to leave it alone all day if you are out to work – get a cat. Otherwise a dog gets bored, which results in howling all day (upseting the neighbours), chewing carpets, furniture, sofa etc., and mess all over the place. It’s cruel to leave them alone too long – so please don’t do it.
You may fancy owning a big, butch dog, but if the dog isn’t suitable for your life-style it can turn into a mega problem.
Where do you get a dog from?
NOT off the Internet. First, you have no idea what its health will be like. The web is the preferred sales place for appalling Puppy Farms. Don’t be one of those people who buys a pup that’s been off-loaded onto an unsuspecting owner, ending up with one that has so many health problems that eventually the poor dog has to be put down.
Good breeders always want to know, interview and approve prospective owners before letting one of their precious kennel go off to a new home.
If I were looking for a new pup, I went to Breed shows: dog shows run by lovers of the breed, with reputable breeders taking part. I would make it known I was looking for a dog or bitch, and normally would be sussed up – then introduced to a breeder. They always said NONE of their dogs was for sale, but after a long chat, if they thought I would treat their puppies OK, I would be told in a few months they might have a litter available.
Good breeders are always cautious. It’s like adopting a child – it takes time to fit the right puppy to the right owner.
Then, one evening, I would get a phone call: “we might have a puppy available in a few weeks” And this means you have passed the first test in being indoctrinated into ‘your’ breed ‘family’. Then the process went slowly, but ended up with a wonderful pet that enriched my life.
You can use the Internet to suss out prices – this will give you an idea. But do remember that it’s feeding, vet’s bills, repairing the chewed furniture etc. that doubles the cost.
Enjoy – and if you want to read about the trouble I got in to with mine (but I wouldn’t have changed them for a fortune) I have written about the Border Terrier