February 2nd, 2012 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment
When I first saw Dainty and her brother at AFCD as very young pups that had been brought in from Lantau by the dog catchers, they were pretty wild. It was only because they were small-sized (and I don’t mean in a puppy sense, but as full grown adults) that I asked for time to see if they would improve. At that time Dainty was the more aggressive of the two and I took her brother before taking her, although he sadly died during the outbreak of parvovirus that swept through. Dainty wasn’t affected at all and started to become more approachable by the day, until finally I felt it was time to send her to Ap Lei Chau for the final stage of her socialisation. I was totally amazed to hear that by Day Two she was already out walking on a leash, albeit reluctantly and not going too far from the Homing Centre, but it was still good progress.
Shortly after arriving she even had an offer of a home, but I felt it was just too early for her to leave (and as it turned out I think my decision was the right one, as the potential adopter never returned to walk with Dainty as we’d suggested). Today someone else wanted to adopt her, and this is a much more suitable home where I can be sure Dainty will be happy. She is already a transformed dog and it happened so fast that I’m left quite stunned, but incredibly happy. Every dog like Dainty is a project, a challenge, and to see these dogs come out of their shells, learning to trust and even have fun, is a really special feeling. The staff and volunteers at both Centres know all about this as they are a big part of every dog’s progress, and we all share the elation when one of these “special needs” dogs gets chosen to be adopted. It just goes to show that there really aren’t any bad dogs, and patience combined with gentle persuasion is all it takes to turn a dog from a trembling wreck to a loving and trusting companion. I’ve seen it so many times that I know it’s true, and I have my own collection of “turnarounds” on Lamma to prove it.
This video clip (below) shows a scene I have been through hundreds of times at the AFCD Pokfulam kennels. Small dogs that have been abandoned, either directly to AFCD or have been picked up from the street by the dog catchers, are almost always terrified. They have often never even been outside their home before and suddenly they find themselves alone in a strange and scary place, with no soft bed or place to hide, only the noise of distressed barking surrounding them. Is it any wonder they react like this little dog when approached by a stranger? In many places, AFCD included, this behaviour would instantly have a dog labelled as “not suitable for homing” and it would be destroyed. Very few dogs get out of the three AFCD Centres that I don’t personally visit or where I have permission to assess the dogs myself, and I know absolutely that many thousands of dogs die simply because they are afraid. How tragic and ironic is that? You can see from this video clip how easy it is:
It was easy to see why a dog like Dainty found a home in double-quick time as she’s small-sized and still a puppy, the two most desirable requirements (I get at least ten requests for small breed puppies for every adult or larger-sized dog). What is a mystery is why some other equally lovely dogs and puppies, with no behaviour issues at all, get left behind. And even sadder is that when I get a litter of puppies, there is almost always one that ends up “on the shelf”, just like Custer, a sweet and lovely boy who’s now got his adult teeth and has even been desexed and is still waiting. Now he has kennel cough so I can’t even take him to the puppy afternoons, and when I look at him and know that his siblings were snapped up in one afternoon, I wonder “why?” Was it fate or bad luck or what?
Rudolf at Tai Po is another one, and I often see his brothers at Whiskers’n'Paws when they come to play, and Rudolf is every bit as lovely as they are. Why was he too never chosen? Being able to compare the lives of those siblings that are in homes and those that are still waiting makes it even harder.
Lottie is a lovely girl and has always been so. She came from a shelter in the New Territories during a time a team of us used to go and help (the place was a mess), and I always brought some dogs with me when I left. One time there was a litter of puppies and I chose three sisters, all of them so sweet and friendly. Two of them have long since been adopted, but ever-happy, tail-wagging Lottie, is now a long-term resident having moved from Pokfulam to Tai Po with us.