Today is my first day back at work after two lovely weeks off with my family. We recently purchased a touring caravan and have enjoyed exploring the North East, along with our dog Eric.
I’d better give him a better introduction, as my life pretty much revolves around him!
Eric is a 4 year old Bull Terrier. For those of you unfamiliar with the breed, I’ll give you a bit more information. Notoriously stubborn, head-strong, not known for their intelligence, bull terriers are sometimes described as a ‘specialist’ breed. That basically means that to own one, you need to be up for a challenge, patient and it helps if you’re not particularly house-proud. In short, they can be hard work! Eric is no exception to this and although he is not my first bull terrier, he’s certainly taught me a lot!
While we enjoyed the Northumbrian coastline over the last week, Eric gained lots of attention. Some of the comments I received were:
‘That’s a big, strong dog.’
‘Someone’s excited to get to the beach!’ (barely heard over the very loud whining)
‘Does he always sit in a chair like that?’ (he never sits on the floor – why would he when there is a deck chair available?)
and my favourite….‘Mam, why’s that woman walking a pig?’.
My favourite thing about dogs is the massive variety between breeds. It’s hard to believe that a Chihuahua and a Great Dane are actually the same species. My parents have always owned spaniels and I grew up with seven (yes, all at once). My Mam often asks if I’ll be getting a ‘normal’ dog later in life – like a spaniel? My response is that I’m far too lazy to be hill-walking in the rain. What she considers to the perfect family pet, is far from my ideal dog.
Our Responsible Dog Ownership workshops give children the chance to consider that although dogs all have the same basic needs, different types of dogs may have different requirements. For example, Border Collies can be extremely clever and can get bored easily meaning that they usually need owners who have lots of time to keep them entertained. Spaniels have lots of energy and need rigorous exercise whatever the weather. We often choose our dogs based on how they look (no sarcastic comments please – my dog is BEAUTIFUL), but it’s so important that we can meet the requirements that our dogs need to be happy and healthy.
Many of the dogs at our rehoming centres, find themselves looking for new homes as their owners may not have understood the needs of their dog. Huskies have soared in popularity over recent years but when we consider that they were designed to pull heavy sledges for 30 miles a day in snow, it is unsurprising that it can be difficult to meet their needs in an average pet home.
Lots of the children that I teach already know what kind of dog they would like when they grow up and I feel it’s so important that they are taught to consider what that dog was originally designed to do before they get one to ensure that their dog will fit in with their lifestyle.
There’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ dog, but with careful consideration, good planning and research, we can all find the type of dog that is perfect for us.