Ollie and Mia

Ashby 078

This post is really just an excuse for me to share some photos of my Ollie and Mia. These photos were taken on the beach while I was taking photos of my Ashby shawl. We get stopped all the time when we’re going for walks so people can say hello and ask questions. I’m always quick to say that they’re rescue dogs to help dispel the myth that rescue dogs are are ugly mutts with behavioural problems. And Ollie and Mia love the attention.

Ashby 045I’ve written about Ollie and Mia before. The first photo is Ollie, he’s a Shih Tzu Terrier X and will be four this April. The photo just above is Mia, she’s a Chihuahua Yorkie X. She’s about two and a half now. They bring such fun and happiness into our lives. Don’t get me wrong, they’re hard work. Mia can be an absolute demon, but they are my babies and they are such a huge part of our lives. I hope you like the photos.

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Better late than never? That remains to be seen.

(I know, two blog posts in two days!?!)

Back in October I lamented the lack of regulation in the puppy breeding sector in Ireland, after TV3 aired a special report on puppy farms in Ireland. Ireland is know as the puppy farm capital of the world, as some puppies are bred in horrible conditions with little or no contact with humans, filthy living conditions and little or no medical care.

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

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

The Dublin SPCA recently issued 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.”

Back in October Phil Hogan, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, said he would not sign the Dog Breeding Establishments Act into law until the completion of the Welfare of Greyhounds Bill is completed by the Oireachtas. Utter BS if you ask me.

Before the red mist descends again, let me get to the good news.

Today, Minister Hogan FINALLY signed the commencement order for the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010.  The Act will come into force on 1 January 2012.

The majority of dog breeding establishments in the country are well run and the owners and operators maintain high standards.  However, I am well aware of problems with a small number of establishments.  This legislation will deal with these operators, who seem to have no respect for the animals that they use for breeding purposes” said Minister Hogan.  He went on to say that owners and operators of good quality establishments where dogs are well treated have absolutely nothing to fear from these regulations.

The Minister said that establishments will have a lead in time of six months to apply to their Local Authority to be included in the register of dog breeding establishments.  As with other dog control issues, Local Authorities will be responsible for the implementation of the legislation locally.

The Dublin SPCA has welcomed “this signing and would like to thank the Minister most sincerely. It’s been a long road, however, today marks a positive outlook for Irish dogs and animal welfare.”

Dogs Trust Ireland has hailed this as “a historic day for dog welfare. We welcome today’s signing and believe it heralds a new dawn for Dog Welfare in Ireland.”

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.

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

 

Doggy Day Out

Anyone who knows me knows I am passionate about animals and animal welfare. I started volunteering at the Dublin SPCA about a year and a half ago and it has enriched my life in so many ways (more on that in a later post). So this seems a fitting topic for my inaugural post.

The DSPCA are hosting their annual Doggy Day Out at Marlay Park next Saturday, September 17th from 12 – 4pm. It’s always a great day out for the pooches, with discounted Microchipping, training sessions, face painting and games, photo sessions with Michelle Griffin of Square Portraits. Michelle has taken photos of my dogs (Ollie and Mia, I’m sure you’ll get to know them soon) and is an amazing photographer.

The pièce de résistance, for me anyway, will be Scrufts, the all-inclusive dog competition. I’ll be entering Ollie and Mia, who we adopted through Dogs in Distress. I think it’s important for people to realise that rescue dogs come in all shapes and sizes and not all are mongrels either.

The whole event is designed to raise awareness as well as to raise much needed funds. I volunteer at reception once a week and it is truly heartbreaking the number of animals that come through the door. (Having said that these are the lucky ones and the DSPCA is generally a happy place. All the staff and volunteers have only one thing in mind: helping animals.)

So come along on Saturday and bring the family (canine and human). It should be great fun. Weather permitting of course.

(All images used with kind permission of the Dublin SPCA.)