Week 4: Actual Dogs

I’m pretty sure there is nobody out there waiting for my next blog post. But in case you were wondering why my weekly update on the foster puppies is late, I had a nasty bug. So, although the update is late, the photos were taken at the weekend, heading into Week 4. I’m feeling much better now thanks, but there were a few days there where I could hardly move from my bed.

The title of the post really says it all. My brother commented “They’re actual dogs now.” It’s the exact same phrase that had been going around my head. They’re 7 weeks old in these photos and all of a sudden they have developed personalities and are into everything. They’re not just pooing machines anymore. It has been an amazing transition, from baby puppy (sleep, eat, poo, maybe some play) to proper puppy running around the place, into everything. They recognise us now and recognise the sound of the food bowl, more importantly.

Katie  (above, the brown one) is the crazy one and will fling herself around the place without a care in the world. And she is so moany. They’re both very vocal, but if Katie is not happy about something she will let you know. She’s hilarious but totally nuts. Taylor (below, the white one) is much more laid back and calm. She’s still puppy crazy but is a bit more cautious. She loves to give kisses and loves to climb into your lap for a snooze. I can actually imagine her trying to climb into your lap as a full grown pit bull.

And they are growing so much. Every time I look at them they’re bigger. Taylor, the bigger of the two, isn’t much smaller than Mia now. The puppy barrier needs to be reinforced daily but is really helpful at keeping the carpet clean and keeping peace in the house.

They got their first vaccination this morning. And then we only have them for another week. I’m already dreading it. I wouldn’t say we have completely bonded; they are more interested in each other most of the time, they didn’t have personalities for most of the time they were with us, they’re kept in the kitchen even when we’re in other parts of the house, I always knew they’d be leaving so only gave them part of my heart. But that part of my heart is going to be devastated when they leave.

Week 3: Puppy Prison

I can’t get over how quickly these puppies are growing, every time I look at them I think they’ve gotten bigger. They’ve been here for two full weeks now, although it feels so much longer. In a good way. There is quite a lot of cleaning with two puppies and my husband in particular was getting fed up with constantly scrubbing the carpet.

6 week old pit bull puppies at puppy gateWe have a carpeted area in our kitchen, as well as tiles, which make keeping them off the carpet even more difficult. So on Friday morning I fashioned a very large puppy gate using kitchen chairs, trellis and boxes. We’ve had to reinforce it a few times and is a bit unsightly but it’s working a treat. They are kept on the very large tiled area, we can climb over it and Ollie and Mia can jump up onto the chair and down the other side.

6 week old pit bull puppiesLook at those faces. It’s hard to stay mad for long. We still bring their bed and water into the sitting room with us but only when supervised. And they get toilet breaks every time they wake up. Accidents on the tile are so much easier to clean up.

6 week old pit bull puppiesOllie and Mia still aren’t very bothered with them. I think they feel ganged up on with two of them. And the girls are inseparable. Katie and Taylor are really looking forward to seeing their namesake performing in the Olympics tomorrow too.

Mia Yorkshire Terrier Yorkie X ChihuahuaHere’s a picture of Mia, because she’s been feeling a bit left out and looks so great after her grooming.

Week 2: Pooing machines

Katie and Taylor have been with us for a whole week now and we’re heading into week 2. The changes in them are amazing, they are so much more sturdier, there are no more worms and they have grown so much.

Pit bull X puppyThey’re eating really well and they’re full of energy. All this good quality food has turned them into pooing machines, hence the blog post title. However, because they’re being fed the good quality food their poos (and excuse me here, I’ll try not to get too graphic) are less frequent, more predictable, more solid and less smelly. All reason enough to invest in good quality food for your pooches in my opinion!!

We’re keeping accidents to a minimum by taking them out the back straight after eating, and as soon as they wake up, when they are guaranteed to need to go to the toilet. I wouldn’t say this is house training, they’re a bit too young yet. But it saves us the constant cleaning and it is hopefully setting up good habits.

Pit bull X puppyThey pretty much sleep, eat and poo. But the gaps between sleeping are getting longer and longer and it’s so funny to watch them tumbling and wrestling with each other. They’re also getting more interested in toys in the last day or so. We have plenty of puppy toys left over from Ollie and Mia, which is great because puppies need soft toys that won’t damage their teeth. There are no real discernible personalities yet but they’re beginning to emerge.

Pit bull X puppyOllie is still pretty much ignoring their existence, but Mia is becoming more and more curious. She still isn’t playing with them and growls if they get too close but every so often I find her inching closer and closer to them to have a sniff. With each of our other foster pups it has taken about a week for her to really start playing so there may be hope yet.

Pit bull X puppy

Need some cute?? (wanna foster a kittens?)

Kitten season has started again. Already.

 

 

These kittens are the first two kittens to arrive at the Dublin SPCA this year. They are three weeks old and it is believed their mother was killed by a car. A kind member of the public brought them to the shelter knowing they could never survive on their own.

 

 

They are currently being fostered and fed every few hours by hand. When they are old enough they will be vaccinated, wormed, microchipped and put up for adoption. When they are six months old they will be neutered.

If you are interested in fostering kittens, cat, puppies or dogs you can read more here. Fosteres form an integral part of the animal rescue system at the DSPCA. Because the shelter is essentially a working hospital, and these very small kittens have weak immune systems, they are put into a foster home until they are ready for their vaccinations. With other cats and dogs they may need some TLC, a bit of socialising or may need some time to recover from an illness like ear mites or ringworm for example.

Fostering is a great thing to do if you can’t commit to having an animal full time, although you will need to be available to come back to the shelter regularly-ish if the animal needs treatment.

The milk used to feed these, and other kittens that will find their way to the shelter, is very expensive. If you would like to donate please contact the Dublin SPCA at www.dspca.ie.

A foster kitten at the DSPCA

Where did you get that gorgeous puppy?

Well, where DID you get that gorgeous puppy? Don’t get me wrong, there are reputable breeders out there. But unfortunately there are also those who take advantage of consumer demand and the lack of regulation in the puppy breeding sector.

Ollie and Mia cute rescue dogs

Ollie and Mia are rescue dogs

Puppies are always popular Christmas presents (although don’t get me started on the idiocy of getting a living, breathing animal as a present!) but as the saying goes a puppy is not just for Christmas. If you are going to get a dog for Christmas do some research on your preferred breed and ask the right questions to ensure you’re not buying from a puppy farm.

Puppies from these ‘puppy farms’ are predominantly sold through classified ads online and in newspapers, and to some extent through pet shops. If you buy a dog from a puppy farm through a classified ad there is no means of comeback if the dog becomes ill or even dies. These deals are often carried out in a car park, with a disposable mobile phone number as the only means of contacting the seller.

In fact the Dublin SPCA have issues a warning after receiving a series of calls about sick puppies. They said “Every day, we deal with people regarding animal welfare issues and it concerns us greatly when we receive calls from pet owners; especially at Christmas time, who tell us they’ve purchased their pet from the back of someone’s car or boot, only to find the animal has become dangerously ill very quickly, often dying within 24 hours of them getting it home.”

Buyer beware

If you do want to get a dog there are ways you can ensure you are buying your dog from a reputable breeder.

The Dublin SPCA would advice you to first of all consider adoption. There are animal shelters across the country with hundreds of dogs looking for their forever homes at any given time. These include the Dublin SPCA, Dogs Trust, the Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) and A Dogs Life, to name a few.

If you are interested in a particular breed, up to a third of dogs available for rehoming with the Dublin SPCA are pedigree dogs.  There are also breed specific rescues that you can contact and adopt through. You can contact the Irish Cavalier Rescue, the Japanese Spitz Rescue or Westie Rescue Ireland, for example.

Ask the right questions

If you really want to buy a puppy, it’s essential to ask the right questions. There are many breeders out there who are in no way connected with puppy farms, and these breeders will be happy to answer your questions. The Irish Kennel Club (IKC) maintains a database of breeders, and these breeders are bound by a code.  Once the new legislation comes into force, breeders will have to display a certificate of registration.

A good breeder will also want to ask you lots of questions. They will want to know where the dog will be sleeping, how much exercise you will give it and may even want to see your home before selling you a puppy. They will also want to ensure that you have thoroughly researched the breed of dog you are buying.

  • You should ask to see the puppies with their mother. Ideally a puppy would be well socialised with a family, but if a breeder is reluctant to let you see the mother this should set off warning bells.
  • You should ask to see the environment the puppy is kept in and NEVER agree to meet someone half way in a car park.
  • Ask about inherited conditions from the animal’s parents/grandparents.
  • You should ask for the vaccination certificate for the puppy and also the name of the vet.
  • Reputable breeders will also microchip puppies.

End puppy farming

[Warning: This post contains disturbing images, but frankly I don’t care, you only have to look at them once, these dogs have to live it everyday.]

If you missed Animal A&E Investigates: The Truth about Ireland’s Puppy farms last night you can watch it again online on the TV3 Player here. This was a special episode exposing the shocking truth about battery farmed dogs in Ireland, where some appalling cruelty cases were highlighted by the ISPCA and the Animal A&E Team.

Or did you watch it and think “I wish there was something I could do!” Well there is. Please, please, please email Minister Phil Hogan at philip.hogan@oireachtas.ie and minister@environ.ie and ask him to to sign the Commencement Order for the Dog Breeding Establishment Act.

Dog Breeding Establishment Act

Dogs Trust Ireland Call to Action to shut down unscrupulous puppy farmers.

Dogs Trust Ireland Call to Action to shut down unscrupulous puppy farmers.

As things stand unscrupulous breeders are taking advantage of Ireland’s lack of animal welfare standards that are in place in other countries. This had lead to reports of over-breeding of animals that are kept in poor conditions.

The new legislation is designed to tackle large scale commercial breeders who are operating puppy farms or battery farms but it has not yet been signed into law. It won’t solve all the problems within the industry, but is seen as an important first step by animal welfare organisations to bring the industry in line with best practise established in other countries. The legislation would help ensure that dog breeding establishments must be registered and licensed.

Under the legislation breeders would be liable for inspection and will have to meet minimum welfare standards, including the size of the kennel where the dogs are kept with adequate ventilation for example.

Puppy problems

Photo taken by the Dublin SPCA at a puppy farm where over 70 animals were removed

Photo taken by the Dublin SPCA at a puppy farm where over 70 animals were removed

Many of the dogs and puppies on these puppy farms have significant medical and social problems. As a result of intensive breeding, animal welfare organisations often see puppies suffering because of inbreeding and other hereditary problems.

Other medical conditions include parasite infestations such as fleas, worms and ear mites which can lead to anaemia. Puppies can also suffer from skin infections such as mange, and can have rickets and calcium deficiencies. The mothers are often found to have mammary gland tumours.

The problems are not exclusively physical. Puppies from puppy farms can also have psychological problems. It’s vital for puppies to be socialised in early life with other dogs and humans, but cage bred puppies often miss out on this vital step in development.

*DO SOMETHING* (FFS)

ISPCA rescue two neglected Shitzu breeding bitches out of fifty dogs from a dog breeding establishment. Photo by Carmel Murray

ISPCA rescue two neglected Shitzu breeding bitches out of fifty dogs from a dog breeding establishment. Photo by Carmel Murray

If you are as disgusted as I am with how these animals are treated then do something. Write to your local TD. An email takes five minutes to write but the more pressure we put on our representatives in government the better chance we have. After all, they are supposed to represent US, the electorate.

I have written to Phil Hogan, Alan Shatter, Shane Ross, Alex White, Peter Mathews and Olivia Mitchell. So far I have recieved a reply from Olivia Mitchell TD. (I will update here if I get replies from any of the other TDS).

I have written to Ms. Mitchell before regarding the legislation and she has always replied. She has said she will ask Minister Phil Hogan to finally sign the Commencement order for the Dog Breeding Establishment Bill. I hope she is true to her word.

[Edited to add 26/10/2011]

Response from Phil Hogan, Minister for Environment, Community & Local Government

Photo taken by the Dublin SPCA at a puppy farm where over 70 animals were removed

Photo taken by the Dublin SPCA at a puppy farm where over 70 animals were removed

Minister Hogan posted the following on his Facebook page “The Dog Breeding Establishment Act cannot be commenced until the completion of the Welfare of Greyhounds Bill is completed by the Oireachtas. This Bill is presently going through Seanad Eireann. I am surprised that people in various organisations are not aware of this matter.”

This in my opinion is BS and is nothing more than smoke and mirror tactics to hold off on signing the order.

[Edited to add 27/10/2011]

Today I got an email reply from Peter Mathews TD, and while Mr. Mathews admits to being appalled by the TV3 program and assures me of his continued support for animal welfare, he also copied and pasted the party line into the middle of his email. He repeated that “It’s intended to commence the Dog Breeding Establishment Act 2010 at the same time as the Welfare of Greyhounds Bill, which is currently passing through the Oireachtas.”

Introducing Ollie and Mia

Ollie and Mia have already made an appearance in a blog post or two so I thought it was time to properly introduce them to you.

Ollie

Ollie

When Rossa and I first started looking for somewhere to buy I insisted we get somewhere with a back garden because I wanted a dog. We adopted Ollie from Dogs In Distress in July of 2009. We met him in his foster home when he was 6 weeks old and was just a tiny bundle of fluff. We think he is a Shuh-Tzu/Fox Terrier X and were told he was found wandering the streets at 6 weeks old.

Ollie is a real little character. He is such a gentle soul too. He loves to play and has two games. He drops a toy at your feet and then it’s a game of ‘fastest draw’ to see if you or he gets to the toy first. His other favourite game is ‘tug of war’. When I get home or someone comes into the house Ollie will run off to find a toy for them to play with.

Ollie grown up

Ollie grown up

He’s also very clever. He know sit, down, paw and ‘bang’ where we taught him to roll over and play dead. He knows who his ‘Aunty Aoife’ is, knows that we’re going out even before we know ourselves and can instinctively tell whether he’s coming with us or not. (If he’s coming he waits by the front door, if he’s not he hides under the couch.) He knows walk, park and ‘go in the car’ and sits when we come to a road until he is told to cross.

He loves cuddles and will keep nudging your hand for more, but isn’t a snuggly dog, he won’t sit on your lap for hours, although loves to snuggle against our legs in bed (where he sleeps at the weekends).

Mia

Mia

When I started volunteering at the DSPCA I started to pine for a second dog. A friend for Ollie don’t you know. After bullying Rossa into eventually agreeing we contacted several rehoming organisations, including going back to Dogs in Distress. I think because we had kept in touch with them since we adopted Ollie we were given first choice on Mia.

We met Mia in the same foster home in November 2010. We fell in love immediately. How could you not! Mia is a Chihuahua Yorkie X and was surrendered by a family at 4 months old. The first few weeks Ollie was very jealous and we had to be careful not to give her too much attention, but bit by bit he realised she wasn’t going anywhere.

Mia all grown up

Mia all grown up

Mia is mental. Totally mental, but she is also the sweetest little thing you will ever come across. She is hyper and demanding, high maintenance and exhausting. She is also a bit thick. Alright, a lot thick. She barks at 5am at mysterious shadows in the garden and still isn’t 100% house-trained. Right now she won’t leave my hand alone as I try to type demanding cuddles.

When she gets really excited she climbs up on our shoulder and starts rolling around like she wants to cover herself in our scent. She wants ‘up’ all the time but will snuggle in against your neck or flop her head on your shoulder in a way that makes my heart melt. She is utterly adorable (even if she is crazy.)

She is besotted with Ollie and bullies him at the same time. When she gets excited she pulls at his ears, she bites his neck and pulls at his legs. But I think we can finally say they are friends. Kind of.

Waiting patiently to cross the road

Waiting patiently to cross the road