Tues 3rd August: A list of things to do

I had to make a list of things that had to be done today so I wouldn’t forget, but I still managed to do it (forget, I mean).  My mind gets so full of all the different parts of this job that it’s inevitable some will get lost along the way. We have a major event in the planning in addition to Peak to Fong (and I suddenly found I was rather more involved that I had intended), plus the Tribute Book, calendar and diary, T-shirts, new Hong Kong Homing Centre, emergency repair work at Tai Po, dog house designing and and and…. that’s before we get to the dog part.

Nothing to do with any of the stories but here's Apricot with her new best friend

I was taking out the last three baby pups from AFCD to pass to a foster home, and I forgot to take the bag of puppy food when I left Lamma.   I had also arranged with Maria, our foster coordinator, that we could drop foster and puppies off in Kowloon on the way back to Tai Po, but this also slipped my mind as I practically shooed the foster out of the way after the puppies were safely in a box and I had given information on what to buy in the way of food. So I’m making a public apology for my air-headedness, and the excuse that my mind was on the pregnant dog waiting to be taken out, and how I was going to achieve it given that she was too timid to walk out willingly.

In the end it was the old crate trick that did it, and it usually works.  It’s just a matter of pushing a crate up against the dog who, once backed into the corner, has nowhere to go but inside.  It’s easy, quick and as stress-free as it’s possible to be.  With the dog safely in the back of the van, along with some towels and newspapers collected along the way (I remembered that part), it was back to Tai Po (minus foster).

A reminder of what the area looked like when we first moved in

During the recent very heavy rain a section of the wall on a couple of the terraces had come way, and it was obviously extremely important that this was repaired as soon as possible.  With the workers busy in the enclosure behind the house where the worst of the damage was, we had to move all of the resident dogs out of the way.  The only place available was the play area,  so it’s off-limits to the rest of the dogs for a while. 

At the same time a new outdoor house was being built in one of the large top enclosures, at this point home to Nathan the German shepherd.  So he too had to be moved out while the workers were busy putting together the kit house, not really intended for dogs but it still works.

I’d been thinking about moving some of the dogs around anyway, and as they were now conveniently in one place it seemed like a good time to do it.  Recruiting volunteers who were in the vicinity, several of the dogs that had been living in the back enclosure were moved to an upper play area (where Trump the boxer is staying), as well as Teresa and Mr Big from the swimming pool pen.  The ultimate aim to to move all of the dogs from the pool area (Chess, Cherry and Maria) and install Nathan in there, but as work will continue for another day on both the walls and the house building I couldn’t complete my mission.  Still, at least the numbers at the back of the house have been reduced, andbit by bit we’ll be able to get more dogs into bigger and nicer enclosures.

Kimono's off to a new home

While all of this was going on Alice was busy with the adoption of one of the huskies, Kimono.  It’s such a relief knowing that at least one of the cold-weather dogs will be living in air-conditioned comfort from now on, and we all feel sorry for the others, including a new Pyrenean Mountain Dog, who have to bear the heat of a Hong Kong summer when they should really be playing in snow.

I’d like to say a little about Teresa.  She came to us from AFCD Sheung Shui when she was already quite pregnant and an emergency termination had to be arranged (I know, this is sad but necessary).  She was put in one of the smallish pens in front of the house while she recovered, but she wasn’t happy there and was getting very thin.  So she was moved to the pool area which suited her much better, and now she is unrecognisable as the same sad and sorry dog that first arrived.   She is still a young girl (this being her first litter, probably conceived at around eight months of age), and she is so sweet and affectionate.  I suspect she’s been a bit overlooked by potential adopters, and maybe even volunteers as she was on the “sick list” for a while, but now that’s she’s joined the others in one of the nice, big enclosures I suspect she’ll become a favourite.

Checking the adoption enquiries is another job that I’m handling at the moment, and it can be depressing at times.  Too many of the applications come from homes where a dog would be left on its own for eight, ten or even twelve hours, and this just isn’t fair on a dog.  Nor is keeping a dog outside in the garden, and never, ever on a roof.  I’ve been having a look at the Dogs Trust  (a large organisation in the UK:  www.dogstrust.org.uk) website, and can really highly recommend this.  Apart from information on every aspect of dogs and dog ownership, there are great training videos which are short and to the point.  Here’s what they say about….

1. Social isolation 

“Dogs are a very social species. Wild dogs are rarely, if ever, alone, so it’s no wonder that a lot of our dogs cannot cope when we leave them and show separation-related problems.
Although we’ve put dogs in what we regard as safe houses and gardens surrounded by secure fences, this is likely to be pretty irrelevant to the dog and in fact, being put into social isolation for long periods of time can be quite a punishment to many dogs. There’s safety in numbers and this is a main reason why so many canine species live in pairs, packs or family groups. If a dog does not feel safe because he is alone, it can be really difficult for him to rest adequately during the day – this can lead to anxiety and even depression. A dog that is anxious is unable to learn anything new and may have difficulty concentrating on any training. This can lead to the owner becoming frustrated since the dog never seems to listen or learn.

Although being left alone without human company can be a major concern, being without canine company of any kind may also have really negative effects. In order to show natural, normal doggy behaviour and to feel safe (especially for many stressed or nervous dogs), living with another suitable dog, or dogs, is very important.”

 

“Dogs are a very social species. Wild dogs are rarely, if ever, alone, so it’s no wonder that a lot of our dogs cannot cope when we leave them and show separation-related problems.
Although we’ve put dogs in what we regard as safe houses and gardens surrounded by secure fences, this is likely to be pretty irrelevant to the dog and in fact, being put into social isolation for long periods of time can be quite a punishment to many dogs. There’s safety in numbers and this is a main reason why so many canine species live in pairs, packs or family groups. If a dog does not feel safe because he is alone, it can be really difficult for him to rest adequately during the day – this can lead to anxiety and even depression. A dog that is anxious is unable to learn anything new and may have difficulty concentrating on any training. This can lead to the owner becoming frustrated since the dog never seems to listen or learn.

Although being left alone without human company can be a major concern, being without canine company of any kind may also have really negative effects. In order to show natural, normal doggy behaviour and to feel safe (especially for many stressed or nervous dogs), living with another suitable dog, or dogs, is very important.”

“Dogs are a very social species. Wild dogs are rarely, if ever, alone, so it’s no wonder that a lot of our dogs cannot cope when we leave them and show separation-related problems.
Although we’ve put dogs in what we regard as safe houses and gardens surrounded by secure fences, this is likely to be pretty irrelevant to the dog and in fact, being put into social isolation for long periods of time can be quite a punishment to many dogs. There’s safety in numbers and this is a main reason why so many canine species live in pairs, packs or family groups. If a dog does not feel safe because he is alone, it can be really difficult for him to rest adequately during the day – this can lead to anxiety and even depression. A dog that is anxious is unable to learn anything new and may have difficulty concentrating on any training. This can lead to the owner becoming frustrated since the dog never seems to listen or learn.

Although being left alone without human company can be a major concern, being without canine company of any kind may also have really negative effects. In order to show natural, normal doggy behaviour and to feel safe (especially for many stressed or nervous dogs), living with another suitable dog, or dogs, is very important.”

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19 Responses to “Tues 3rd August: A list of things to do”

  1. Nancy Says:

    Sally,

    I applaud your zealous effort to stick to the ideal of accepting applications only from those who will not leave their dogs home for long periods. However, from a practical and realistic perspective, in this day and age when most people work long hours, chances of finding homes where owners spend majority of their time in the house will be rather difficult.

    To be fair to the dogs, I think letting them have homes where they will be much loved will be more important than whether the owners spend a considerable time away. I am not an expert but going by my three, they can be most adaptable – particularly when there is a routine.

    Personally, I work long hours and leave my dogs on their own at home – after making sure that they will be safe, have adequate water supply and their pee/poo pans are where they should be. They have free reign of the house. I know that most of the time when I am away, they spend their time sleeping and when they are awake, they play with one another. They know they are loved and love back in abundance and they are happy and mischievous dogs.

    I am sure there are plenty of other families like mine – and I believe that this is a great arrangement – even if not the most ideal.

    Would suggest that you reconsider applicants who are like me, who will love their dogs and care for them well, even though they spend a lot of time at work.

    Nancy

    • Sally Says:

      Nancy, I suspect your dogs aren’t puppies and they have each other for company.

      • Nancy Says:

        Hi Sally

        They are no longer puppies now but they each came to me at 3 months old – first with one and then the 2nd came along and then now the third (currently 7 months old).

        Nancy

  2. Helen Y Says:

    The bulldogs are gentle and affectionate like kittens, when you walked in they purred (I mean snorted), and waddled right over and rubbed their faces against you, wanting to be patted, and raised their paws to try to reach out to touch you. They are so so gentle and sweet. Please visit and adopt and give them new lives. They had none before coming to us.

    BTW, totally agree with the social article above, all our wooden table and chair legs and furnitures survived our pup’s chewing stage, cause she has 16 (including her owns) interactive dog legs to chew instead.

  3. Manuela Ribeiro Says:

    I agree with Nancy, if like Sally says they are not puppies. I am away from home all day and I have three dogs, one of them a very energetic 5 years old Boston Terrier, a 6 years old Maltese Terrier cross that sometimes think they are Formula 1 race drivers around the house and a older Shi Tzu. Although I have my housekeeper during the day because of them, that I wouldnt need so many hours as I live alone but for the dogs, sometimes on Sundays I go out during the day and never find problems when I return. I leave the air con on, their water bowls full and they are very contented dogs that after their crazy racing sleep until I arrive, I suppose for being tired and they dont have any anxiety problems for being left on their own.

  4. Yenni Says:

    In 2010, Switzerland’s animal law, which is ahead many other countries’, came into effect. What it says about the social nature of dogs are similar with the Dog Trust says, here it is:
    Dogs are deemed “social animals” and, therefore, “must have daily contact with humans, and, as far as possible, with other dogs”. If kept in outdoor kennels, they must be “chain free” for at least five hours a day and kept in pairs, or with other “compatible animals”.

  5. Yolanda Says:

    Hi Sally,

    We very much would like to adopt a dog (or two) from HKDR but we are amongst those failed applicants since we could not pass the 10 – 12 hours left along criteria. As per HKDR advise, I did ask my part-time domestic helper whether she knows friend who could come to my apartment to spend an hour or two with the dog Monday to Friday. The answers I got was: A lot of them are afraid of dogs but one. However, she asks for $150/day and the total expense per month for just this will be $3000 extra. What also worry me is – I can’t really guarantee she is doing her job well. I see so many helpers taking the dogs out not to walk but speak on the phone. If we can afford that $3000 addition cost, I would rather have it donated to HKDR per sc to take care of more dogs than spend on just one dog. It hence is really dfficult for a dual working family like us to adopt. We however are still looking for other options of how to overcome this.

    By the way, will it make a difference if we adopt two instead of one so that they can play with each other when we are away? If yes, this may be a way out.

    Thanks,
    Yolanda.

    • tina Says:

      hi yolanda,

      i have a very good dog walker to recommend for you who is also very reasonably priced (at least half than what you stated above). let me know if you need the contact!

      for those considering having a second dog, i can vouch that you get 200% the love, for just 10% more effort really (you have to walk and feed and play anyways!) – and most importantly, i find, my dogs are happier and more well behaved together.

  6. Vic Says:

    I think giving a dog what it needs is more important than love and affection. A dog needs shelter, food water and social interaction as well as discipline and affection when in human company. Interaction with people and other dogs is essential to a dogs psychological well-being. I see all over the place people treating their dogs as ornaments and not letting them be normal.

  7. Susanna Says:

    I agree with Sally – although in reality people do work away from the home for long hours these days – many dogs, especially the younger ones, have a difficult time being left for that amount of time – which can often result in the return of the dog due to anxiety issues (destructive behavior, accidents in the home, etc) or worse.

    In placing rescue dog with families that work full time – I generally have them work out an arrangement where someone comes in during the day to exercise and socialize with the dog – whether that be a professional, a neighbor/friend or a one of the adopters coming home during lunch. The other option is to have the dog go to doggie daycare a few days per week.

    Although the need for adoptive homes is great – it much harder to re-home a dog that has been returned – especially a puppy that is returned as an adult – than to take the time to find the right match the first time around.

    • Nancy Says:

      Suzanna,

      In life, there are no guarantees. Despite the tough criteria that HKDR has imposed on adoptions, you will still have people who return the dogs and they still need to be rehomed.

      With so many dogs and with numbers increasing, all I am saying is to be open to other possibilities. There is no right or wrong in any option and there will be right and wrong owners under either option. You just have to take chances and in turn give the dogs and potential adopters a chance.

      The whole idea is to encourage adoption and not buy. If your rules are so strict, you will only push people to buy instead. And that is not what you want. The fact that these folks even bother to think adoption and labouriously fill up your very detailed, probing form does indicate a certain genuiness. So don’t discount folks that work long hours as potential adopters. For all you know, you will find that the returns might be lower than you think.

      Nancy

      • Sally Says:

        Nancy, I don’t think our questionnaire is either “probing” or laborious to complete. Do you think we should just take a chance and hand dogs over to anyone who wants one? You have to remember that most of our dogs come from homes just like the ones we don’t want them to go back to, and while there is the possibility that adopters we reject will buy from a pet shop instead, there’s also a good possibility that they will stop and think and realise that perhaps they’re not ready for a dog at this point. We do suggest to the people we turn down for adoption that they volunteer instead, and that by dpoing so they can learn about dogs and understand their needs.

  8. Manuela Ribeiro Says:

    Hi Sally
    Are there any update news about Hercules? How did it go in his new phase of life? Please keep us posted about this beautiful and gentle giant. Thanks a lot. Manuela

  9. DL Says:

    Agree with both sides to the issue. The problem is, there aren’t there many people like Nancy (above) who will take the effort and time to make sure the dogs are tired out before she leaves them for work, and that the dog has another doggie playmate(s). All too often, I’d hazard a guess – that new adopters think it is totally OK to leave their dogs/puppies alone for 10 hours with a snap of a finger.

    Still, it is not easy to leave a dog alone at home for less than 8 hours a day sometimes. Most of our jobs are a minimal 8 hours long/day, plus the commuting, etc, it’s almost impossible. To hire a dog helper might not be as easy as the dog may be extremely shy, or has certain character traits that may be difficult to handle. Doggie day cares can be very discriminatory (e.g. a doggie day care rejected taking care of my “Rottweiler” although she is extremely sweet to people and dogs, and loves to play with other dogs) and expensive. What else is there to do?

    If an adopter is willing to put in the time to exercise (run, walk, hike, bike etc) a dog in the evening, everyday, leaving a tired dog in the day for it to sleep (even if for 8 to 10 hours), then so be it. Especially if the adopter is willing to very slowly get the dog used to the schedule, i.e. leave it alone at home from 1 hour and increasing this time slowly to the 8 hours+.

    Some dog owners also have video cams rigged up so they can keep track of their dogs while at work, etc. There are ways around this – even a relatively simple one, getting another doggie companion for the dog. While one of my dogs still whines when we leave the house for work, I also know they will settle down after a while and sleep it off. When I return from work, it’s off for a long walk or a jog, etc. It can work!

  10. Susanna Says:

    Thank you for the response Nancy. It sounds like your personal dogs are very happy and well loved.

    I apologize – I should have been clearer in my comment. I do not work for HKDR – but for another rescue. I suspect that my adoption application is probably much more laborious to complete than HKDR’s:)

    After placing dogs for 10+years – I have learned from my many mistakes – and one of the mistakes I used to make – was placing young dogs with families that left them alone for 8-10 days. My return rate as a result – used to be extremely high. Now that I have modified my adoption criteria – I have less than a 1% return rate – as the dogs are getting what they need to make the adoption successful long term.

    Thankfully, I have not seen any drop off in the adoption rates as a result – but I have seen a significant drop in returns.

    I work full time and have 6 large breed rescue dogs myself. I either have someone come in midday to take them for a hike or to the dog park – or I come home myself to walk and play. It is a welcome break in my workday. I wish I could make it home every day!

    If I adopt a dog to someone that works full time – I expect them to make similar arrangements. After receiving the reasoning behind this request – most adopters are agreeable as they want to do what is best for the dog.

    Sometimes I will have the prospective adopter foster a dog first, especially if he/she is a first time dog guardian – so that he/she may have better understanding of the impact a dog can have on lifestyle.

    After the horrors that many of these dogs have survived – I think it is our responsibility as rescuers to do everything possible to make a quality lifetime placement.

  11. Vic Says:

    I think there could be a business opportunity for someone linked to the dog rescue organisations who can get around to those people who have dogs that need to be taken out during long days away from their owners.

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