It’s been more than 40 years since the slogan ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ was coined, and as dog ownership skyrocketed last year it was updated to ‘A dog is for life, not just for lockdown’.
It’s a sentiment that Helen Sinclair, founder of local charity Friends of the Animals, couldn’t agree more with, and in advance of National Puppy Day next Tuesday (March 23), she’s issued advice for Islanders who may be considering sharing their lives with a four-legged friend.
She said: “Taking on a puppy is a big responsibility and it’s important to research breed traits and consider the adult size of the dog, as puppies are not puppies for long. They invariably come as very cute little balls of fluff, but they also come with little alligator-sharp teeth that can do a lot of damage. Never give your dog a pair of old slippers to chew on – they can’t differentiate between them and your best shoes. Nor do puppies come house-trained!
“From the very beginning, do not shout at your puppy, and always give clear commands; be consistent and do not overfeed or over-exercise. Puppy training classes (when possible) are a great way for both of you to socialise, and a well-trained puppy will translate into a well-mannered adult dog who will become a much-loved part of the family, hopefully for many years to come.”
Helen warned Islanders to do their homework before getting a dog, adding: “Nipper was bought as a surprise gift. Unfortunately, an eight-week-old Border Collie puppy was the last thing the recipient wanted, and the photo above was taken on the same day he was taken into a vet to be put to sleep. Fortunately, Friends of the Animals shot over there and picked him up and he was homed very happily on the Island.”
And think about whether you really want a puppy, or would an older dog fit your lifestyle better. Every dog owner knows their dogs are beautiful, and as you get to know him or her you will fall in love with your new friend, whatever their age. Helen added: “Wherever possible, please have a ‘rescue’ and experience the nice warm glow that comes from knowing you have given a home to a needy animal. In some cases you will have saved that animal’s life.
“Please ring us on 522511 and we will be pleased to send you a copy of our newsletter.”