Thursday, 12 March 2009

Why the Dogs Trust

I had a conversation with my mother the other day, who has a sponsorship form of mine in her village shop (I also live in the village). I was a little frustrated that very few people have so far sponsored me, even though many have shown their support vocally. My mother suggested that if I were supporting a "people" charity as opposed to animals there would be more donations. I live in an area where farmers regularly dump unsold pups in a river, so I suppose I'm not surprised if they don't donate to the Dogs Trust. Don't get me wrong - there are some lovely people in this village, and many of them are animal lovers, it just seems that the human race as a whole would rather donate to their own "breed".

The problem is, we are, as a race, now responsible for dogs - along with every other animal on this planet now that we have taken it over. Dog's are no longer the wolves that would roam and look after themselves naturally. When we changed their world and brought them into domestication we removed pretty much every shred of independence they had. They now rely on us for food, exercise, security, company and mental stimulation.

Unfortunately the human race as a whole is rather selfish by nature. We have taken over the planet and completely changed the landscape, and have affected pretty much every other species that live on it. Not only that, but as a race we refuse to recognise anything other than the most basic needs of animals. For some reason we cannot comprehend the fact that animals have a brain that is capable of thought and feelings. If the human race were to recognise this then we would no longer battery farm chickens, force feed geese in order to produce Foi Gras, or use electric prods on pigs - and that's just a start. For a very interesting documentary that was on Discovery channel recently see "Why Dogs Smile and Chimpanzees Cry". Why on earth do we believe we are the only creature to have a brain that feels emotions? How small minded! It has now been proven otherwise but it's more convenient for the human race not to see it.

Ok, so I'm going a little off track here, but can you imagine how differently we would treat animals if we looked at them differently, which brings me to dogs...finally (I know, I tend to waffle, but I'll get to the point in the end!). I strongly believe, that when you take on a dog (or any other animal) you accept full responsibility for its needs. It must be accepted that a dog is NOT just a cute little pet that's been bought to keep the kids quiet, nor is it just there to keep you company when you come home from work. A dog is descended from a wolf, and still has the instincts and needs of a capable, energetic and intelligent animal.

How many people do you know have given up on a dog and either re-homed it or even had it put down because they couldn't cope with it's "problems"? There are very few people who don't know anyone like this, yet the "problems" these dogs have - whether they chew the furniture or rugs, bark, escape, or are aggresive to name but a few, are created by humans at least 9 times out of 10. This is because many dog owners don't see the real animal rather than just the cute pet. For instance, there is someone in our village who had her dog euthanased after it twice got out and killed sheep. In her eye's it was the dogs fault - it was a bad dog. In truth, the dog was acting on it's ancient instinct to hunt and kill. The owner should have been responsible enough to dog proof her garden so the dog couldn't get out, but still satisfy the dogs need for excercise and mental stimulation by giving it plenty of walks and playing search/hunting games with a hidden toy for instance. I spent this morning trying to catch this persons new dog (a Jack Russell) that was running round my mothers smallholding after the geese. Again, the owner blamed the dog rather than refusing to see the instincts and needs inside the dog - and still isn't responsible enough to even attempt to dog proof the garden. Is she going to blame this dog again when it gets loose and kills a goose next time? Is she going to have this dog euthanased too?

My point is that there are so many people who think a dog is either "good" or "bad", rather than recognising the needs of the dog, and the need for the owner to invest some time in training their dog as well as fullfilling it's needs. If we see a "bad" child we straight away (and normally quite rightly) blame the parents for not providing the right upbringing, yet a "bad" dog is just a bad dog! How many children have been attacked by a dog, and then that dog is euthanased, yet how often have children been left alone with a dog to "play" with. A dog is not a play thing, yet we expect it to tolerate having crayons stuck in it's ears , it's hair pulled, being leaned on, cuddled and layed on? Is the dog supposed to just take it? I wish instead of simply introducing the "Dangerous Dogs Act" and classifying all these breeds as dangerous (and Cesar Millan has proven otherwise with his pack of 50 or so "dangerous" dogs), more thought would go into looking at the owners - how did they look after the dogs, were it's needs met (body mind and spirit) or was it just a living play thing for the children. Did it have somewhere to go to get away from the children if it was being treated roughly?

I know I'm classifying the human race in general here, and I know there are many really good dog owners out there - I've met many of them both in person and on the web. But there are still so many dogs being euthanased, re-homed or simply dumped and abandoned that we need to do more here.

I've chosen to support the Dog's Trust as they not only take in the dogs that have been abandoned, but they make the commitment to look after that dog until the right home comes along and they never put a healthy dog down. Unfortunately there are still many dogs being euthanased by rescue centres as they haven't been been able to re-home them within a set time. Dog's Trust do a great job in making sure the dogs have a suitable home with new owners who are aware of the dogs needs and commit to fulfilling them. This way the dog has a home for life rather than being abandoned again at a later stage.

In today's throw away society I believe dogs and Dogs Trust need all the help they can get.

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