Seeing dogs day in and day out as we do here at the House of Mutt, you get to understand them pretty well. And sometimes that understanding leads to situations that are slightly uncomfortable to acknowledge.
A big ‘line’ of mine is that we are a home from home – with mates on tap. A happy, relaxed shut-in every night, if you like, without the bother of invitations and canapes. Which sounds wonderful. And is.
But what if a dog arrives who really isn’t into parties and whose idea of happy relaxation is four secure walls and the knowledge that the only person he’s interested in will, at some stage, be walking back through that door, there, with his lead in their hand. They don’t want fun, frolics and freedom, they want cast-iron security. And a strong harness.
One such fellow arrived today.
To be fair, he met none of our usual criteria and I think I only agreed to take him in because of an enthusiastic owner and a rather arrogant belief that all dogs would be happy here and there was, as I rather cringingly think I might have said to the owner, ‘no dog who’d never settled ‘. He’s a fairly recent rescue dog (that’s fine, we have plenty of those); who is very insecure (that’s ok, we have a few of those); and lives locally enough to have been dropped off by his owner and still smell home (we have virtually none of those).
The combination resulted in him prowling the perimeter fence through which he’d seen ma & pa disappear, show not the slightest interest in the other dogs milling around and eager to make friends, and, once in the house, try to lift his leg over every bit of furniture in the place. He was unsettled and nervous. We’d usually give a dog like that a bit of space to watch and learn and take cues from the others – aided and abetted by a good run round outside to get the feel-good-vibes going and bladder safely emptied. But this fellow didn’t want space or freedom to stretch his legs, he wanted security and, as we saw as soon as we got out a crate, confinement.
His owners had had him kenneled before and had left me with their number ‘in case it was needed’. My call, and theirs too when I reported back to them, was that it was.
So he’s now wrapped up in a familiar kennel. He didn’t want a home from home, he wanted four strong walls where he could sit and wait out his owner’s return. Not ideal for everydog, but I think, best for him, at this time, with where he is in his head at the moment.
Some dogs who’ve been damaged in a former life and have put their all in to having one ‘home’ maybe just don’t have the reserves to cope with having a second, temporary, one.
Dogs are never one size fits all. We do what we do here at the House of Mutt (brilliantly, I think / hope!) but what we do isn’t necessarily right for all. There’s always choice.
All we all have to do, as responsible dog owners, is make the right one. Yes?