Well this is just the title of a story written by my nine year old grand daughter. She is extremely keen to acquire a dog but she is not able to fulfill her desire at present and has expressed her feelings through this story. However, I want to express something related to such situation and it has a long term impact on dogs and their owners.
All over the world thousands of puppies’ are acquired either to satisfy a child’s desire or as a gift and spend just a few days in their new homes and are transferred to dog shelters or volunteers of various dog caring societies pick them up from the streets and rear them, till they can find a permanent home. However, hundreds of unlucky ones end up either under the wheels of an automobile or die of hunger and cold.
One might wonder, ‘if the pup has to be discarded then why at all acquire it’? Often parents acquire a pup without fully realizing the destructive potential of a pup. Very often people acquire a pup as a status symbol, and are disappointed when they find that the pooch they acquired does not have even a single trait of the elegant looking dog of same breed they saw in their friend’s house.
In a nutshell one gets lured by a picture or a movie or impressed by a particular breed by its looks and buys a pup on an impulse. Till I came in contact with Raja Saheb Bhadri I did not know what a pure breed dog means. Before that I had all types of dogs and I could train some of them, but I did not know that there are different breeds and they have their own characters and types. I could gather the difference and advantages and disadvantages of a pure breed dog and a pariah with great difficulty. For example, impressed by the performance of Police Dogs I was tempted to buy an Alsatian (German Shepherd Dog). At that age I did not know that the jaws of an Alsatian can exert a pressure of nearly 750 pounds per square inch-powerful enough to make pulp of the stout sofa leg. At that age I had no inkling of the fact that the ears of an Alsatian if hurt even mildly can develop Hematoma-a painful condition, or a badly bred Alsatian could develop Hip Dysplasia, yet another painful and crippling condition.
Million dollar question is whether to fulfill the fancy of your child or your own desire should you go for a dog or not? Before considering other factors you should ask yourself some serious questions-like ‘How much time, money and space I can spare for the dog?’ Then next comes the question of ‘whether to go for a pure bred dog or a pariah’, and if a pure bred dog is your decision then whether a large, medium or a toy breed will suit you.
In the current blog I will try to raise these questions and also answer them. The very purpose of this exercise is to save a poor dog from ending up under the wheels of a car or in a dog home far away from his own crowd!
A pup of any breed or even a pariah always looks cute. He just wins you over with his antics. Alas a pup never remains a pup for ever. A dog’s life span on an average is 12 years, hence a pup grows much rapidly than you can imagine. He is almost teenager at the age of nine months and a full blown adult by the time he completes his first year.
It is a difficult to decide which breed one should have. Reason is that the one which fancies you by its looks may be either beyond your budget or there may be a space constraint or it may need more time than perhaps you can devote! But more often dog lovers buy a breed out of an impulse. Imagine a young doting parents living on the 19th floor of a swanky apartment in a posh residential area going for a Great Dane pup for their five year old daughter! The family goes to a movie and there they see a Great Dane performing so well that they just fall in love with the breed and buy one at a huge cost-because money was not a constraint. The six weeks old pup endeared one and all on the very first day. Friends and relatives were invited to have a look at their proud possession.
Alas the pride did not last even 24 hours. The lady of the house, an early bird got out of the bed, still groggy with sleep she went to the door to pick up the milk packets left by the vendor. While traversing through the plush carpet in the sitting room her toe touches something messy. And the next moment the whole family is around her trying to see in the dim light of the dawn what she had treaded upon. Oh it was the fresh poop; the pedigreed pup had left on the carpet. Sacrilege thought the head of the family and holding the pup by the scruff of the neck, rubbed his nose on the mess. This was the only way to cure a pup from messing around he had learnt from his elders since child hood.
Poor pup was blissfully unaware of the folly he had committed. He had done what came to him instinctively-to remain clean and do his ‘job’ away from the lair-his balcony! In another two months the pup had started cutting his teeth and got another major thrashing when he polished off the top of brand new ‘hush puppies’. Being carnivores’ leather tastes fine for them and one of the best stuffs to soothe the irritating gums is to gnaw at the shoes.
In another two months the Dane pup grows up so much that while galloping through the sitting room his sweeping tail topples the costly Swarovsky crystal glass pieces from the table. And in another two months the brute becomes so large and powerful that he not only pushes your mother in law down by placing his powerful paws on her chest, but also falls you flat with a single pull on the leash. You return home with swollen, fractured wrist. You start hating your pride possession.
Wish before acquiring a Great Dane on an impulse you had read about it in the net or from the books or consulted experienced Dane breeders about the pros and cons of the breed.
There could be hundreds of such situations where the owners realise a trifle late about the mistake of acquiring a breed which was a misfit for them. A garden loving owner could get a rude shock to see his beautiful garden converted in to burrows by the loving Dachshund. Wish he knew that the breed was designed for Badger hunting. Dax have powerful spade like paws and a deep chest for digging in to the burrows of Badgers. They also have a supple skin so that they can turn 360 degrees. No animal can do so including us.
Yet another problem most Dax owners face is house training them. Many times despite being house trained Dax commit mistakes. Minty my champion dachshund was fully house trained and she was one year old when I relocated from Jammu to Lucknow. She did not pass urine all through the 22 hours journey and I was intending to take her to some quiet corner as soon as I reached the destination. While the train was entering the platform, she climbed my berth and licked my face. And before I could make out what she was trying to convey, she had soiled my pillow with liters of urine. Thereafter it became a habit with her to mark my bed or sofa or where ever she felt like with her urine. I took 15 days off from work and observed her 22 hours daily while house breaking her once again.
Thus you can see how significant it is to observe your dog to train him properly. That is why the question how much time you can spare?
Then comes the question whether a pure breed or a pariah you should go for. You may also add another question whether you should acquire a dog or a bitch. Though these decisions are very personal and one does not need any ones advice on such issues. Yet in order to make your and dog’s life easier I wish to butt in a little bit.
A pure bred dog has the characters of size and temperament genetically imprinted. Thus if you have seen a Great Dane or you have seen it in pictures You jolly well know about its size as an adult. Similarly you can know in advance from books/net or lovers of the breed that a Fox Terrier will be an incessant barker, while a Labrador Retriever may be so quiet that he appear to be a dumb dog. Therefore, if you are looking for a dog which barks at everything including his own shadow, a Lab may be useless.
A Pariah on the other hand is unpredictable in the matters of physical appearance as an adult or even temperament. But be assured that there will not be any difference between the quality or intensity of love and affection showered by a pedigreed dog or a pup from the street. A word of caution however-a pariah pup from the street may carry infections therefore you have to take precautions before you bring him home. Secondly a dog on the street like an urchin fends for himself-so there are chances that your pet may be a little bit selfish. But if you shower all the love all thse problems vanish in no time.
It boils down to fact that the choice between a pedigreed dog or otherwise depends a lot upon your budget. There can of course be lots of arguments and counter arguments regarding acquiring a bitch or a dog. I wish to add that a bitch has motherly instinct; as such she is more affectionate and cares for the human children very much. But a dog is powerful and may prove to be a big deterrent in case any one tries to break in or try to be fresh with you. A dog however, is quite egoistic and at times obstinate if not handled properly. Personally if you ask me a bitch is any time better. Regarding managing a bitch during her season there are ways I will write in some other blog and of course there are ways to tackle obstinate dogs too.
Now armed with answers to almost all the questions you may decide to acquire a dog! But a question at the end remains-for what purpose you want a dog? The same question was asked to me by Raja Saheb Bhadri when I requested him for a pup. At that age I did not even know about the breeds and their utilities. My love for dogs was blind I just loved the four legged creature. He explained me how the pure bred dogs have been created for different purposes. For example a Labrador Retriever is bred to retrieve game during a shoot. Therefore if he barks unnecessarily the prey will run/fly away. Similarly a GSD is bred to guard sheep while they graze and he is supposed to at best growl to herd them and attack a predator if the sheep are threatened. Guarding grazing sheep means lots of running about all day. Since I was a keen trainer I told Raja Saheb that I want a dog to train.
Instead of gifting me with a dog he advised me to learn the ropes from one Mr. C.V. Cearns, a bursar of Sherwood College, Nainital, specially appointed as a Deputy Superintendent of Police in U.P. to launch the Dog squad. He was a hard task master and it was a great experience to learn how to handle a dog and make him do things you want him to do.
If you have answers to all the questions I have raised and made you ponder and if you have all the time and love for dogs then what are you waiting for? Go ahead and get a pup. But still I will plead better read my blogs here so that you know it well how and where to lodge the pup in your house, what and when to feed him and how to communicate with your dog. It is an interesting hobby and I am sure you will enjoy it as I have enjoyed all these 64 years!