June 13th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments
I finally took our regular Sunday volunteer photographer at Whiskers’n'Paws, Semirah, up on her offer to come over to Lamma . I have dogs that need their website profiles updated, as well as Life Saver Club dogs whose sponsors are sent news with photos on an infrequent but regular basis. I try my best to take photos when I can, but there are inevitably an additional few tails, ears and body parts in every shot and that’s not really the look we’re aiming for.
I have a lot of beautiful and sweet older doglets that have passed their Sunday afternoon sell-by dates, meaning that they have become just too old or big for Whiskers’n'Paws and there is either no space for them at Tai Po or I just don’t have the heart to send them there. My two stunning Belgian shepherds (formerly known as Black Fluffies), Biff and Buffy, are two such dogs. They have remained very close as young adults and are always together, and after all this time I still don’t have photos of them individually.
I suggested to Semirah that I bring the dogs outside so they could be photographed on and around the beach, and for the next couple of hours a succession of (rather reluctant) subjects were paraded in front of various backdrops, depending on the sun at that time. Buffy and Biff, as well as a very happy Sophie, stayed out for the duration of the shoot, until they had exhausted themselves running and playing (and, I have to admit, searching for dead fish). It was lovely to see them like that, and I’m still very sad that two such beautiful and sweet dogs were never chosen as puppies. It’s the initial shyness that spoiled their chances, and the fact that they both hid themselves when they were taken to Whiskers’n'Paws.
Sophie is also a great doglet, very different in character from the Belgian shepherds and with not a hint of shyness about her. She loves everyone and enjoys every moment of the day, and an afternoon on the beach was her idea of heaven. If only she could find a family with children to play with she’d be a very happy girl all the time.
While I’m waiting for Semirah to go through the thousands of shots she must have taken, I took one photo myself. Gala is an elusive girl, particularly so after the last time she let me pick her up I gave her a radical haircut. She really needed it but she still hasn’t forgiven me, and while she joined in all the games this afternoon she kept her distance from both me and the camera.
Meanwhile, back in the real world of HKDR, two dogs were collected from the New Territories AFCD, or rather one poodle and one young puppy. As you may have gathered, poodles are being bought and abandoned at an alarming rate, probably when their owners realise that they are high energy dogs with a coat that needs constant grooming. If you fall behind on the brushing and clipping, you very quickly end up with a mass on knots and tangles which then become a solid mass. So it was no surprise to receive yet another email from Sheung Shui AFCD letting me know there were two further poodles, both very young, as well as a French bulldog, also still only a year old. Suddenly Frenchies are back on the scene after having been rare for a couple of years.
I had to go over to Ap Lei Chau to pick up the new puppy, a pretty little girl I’ve called Trixie. As it was getting late in the afternoon by the time I called the sampan, I asked the sampan driver to wait for me while I went to the Homing Centre (with Semirah) to get the puppy, and head straight back to Lamma with her. I completely forgot that I’d told Linda I’d meet her in the office to go through some stuff with her, my brain clearly having been addled by the sun and the to-ing and fro-ing with the dogs. Sorry Linda.
Reading my emails in the morning there was one from someone, an expat, leaving Hong Kong but not including their two dogs in their relocation plans. They had been adopted from another organisation who had turned down the request for them to be returned, as had other rescue groups. Now it was HKDR’s turn. I don’t know if it’s just that time of year when a lot of expats are either sent , or choose to return, back to their homelands, or if it’s related to the dire financial situation in Europe, but there seems to be a lot of people leaving at the moment. Moving from place to place is part of being an expatriate and is to be expected, but that should include the entire family, and I mean pets too. Adopting a dog (or any animal) and then just leaving them behind when you pack up and go is wrong. When you sign an adoption agreement you commit to taking care of that dog for its life, not one or two years. You can’t simply expect the organisation that trusted you with a puppy to take it back as an adult dog, as if there was some implicit agreement to do so. It’s devastating for the dogs to lose their family, and they wouldn’t care if they had to live in a shoebox as long as they could stay with the people they know and (foolishly) trust. It’s also heartbreaking for me, and others who face the same problem, to have to say no to most surrender requests. The subtle threat that accompanies such requests (as in “or we will have no choice but to….”) isn’t right or fair either, as it’s not any of us that are abandoning the dogs. Don’t pass your guilt onto others, and take your dog(s) with you. It’s easy to get dogs into England now so there’s no quarantine excuses. Going to Canada or the USA is as simple as taking a piece of excess baggage. Surely there are friends or family at home who would be able to help with temporarily looking after dogs if that was necessary. If you write on the adoption questionnaire that you will take your dog with you if and when you leave the country, then do what you have promised to do. For all of those who have abandoned their dogs, or are thinking of doing so, this is for you. For those who have stuck with their four-legged family member through thick and thin and know that they would never give them up, thank you.