Growing up, I remember our dog Chloe. A German Shephard that we had from a puppy. She had hip dysplasia when she got older and ended up in a sort of wheelchair for dogs (I’m sure you’ve seen the type I mean). She was there from as young as I can remember, and lived until I was maybe in my very early teens.

When she died, I was heart-broken. After that, rather than getting a puppy, my parents looked at re-homing dogs. I was quite young at the time, so it was important we got a dog that was ‘good with kids’… and this in itself, can be a challenge when re-homing a dog – and often puts people off.

But over the years, my parents took on quite a few re-homed dogs, and gave them a lot of love and care, after what had been – for some of them – a traumatic upbringing.  Yes you have to be careful of course, but with the right environment and with the right approach to training, you can make a huge difference to a poorly treated dog who’s probably lost all faith in their human counterparts. 

When I came to get my own dog, when I was “all grown up” and I’d just bought a new house with my wife, we didn’t want to go specifically for a puppy. We wanted a puppy, yes… but we knew that even at a young age, dogs were being re-homed all the time.

I saw this advert for a puppy who was being re-homed, as the owner was a pregnant lady who’d underestimated how much work he was…. She’d named him Andrex, because he looked like the Andrex puppy (hmm).

So he was dubbed Andy. And oh my, he was a lot of work… he was a good example of the dog from ‘Marley and Me’. It took us months, and months of inexperienced training, to get him to eventually calm down.

Several years later… he was a model dog. And he was the best with our kids. So much so, nearly a year after he passed away, my eldest son still deeply misses him and gets quite upset every now and then, that he’s really gone. He was ill for some time, before he passed, and I knew I had to do one thing: to re-home another dog.

I wasn’t looking for a puppy, particularly, I was just looking around re-homing sites for another Labrador, and I stumbled on a story that resonated so much with me, I had to do it. It was a puppy, just months old, where the owner had drastically underestimated how much work he’d be. The reason it resonated with me… it was just like the story with Andy, and I couldn’t say no. She had two young children, and one of the children was reacting very badly to the dog being there. We visited, and took him home that day.

He’s an idiot, but he’s a loveable idiot. And more importantly, we’ve trained him solidly from day one, having learnt from a lot of our mistakes before. He’s friendly, great with the kids, and a solid successor of Andy.

But my point in this is… having a dog is a big, big responsibility. They’re called “Man’s Best Friend” – so I wish more of us would treat them that way.

I don’t want to chastise the people who get a dog and realise it’s too much work, and have to re-home them too much, because by selectively re-homing at least they’re looking out for the dog’s future.

But there are many cruel and idiotic people in the world, who’ll just let the dogs fend for themselves, or much worse, and abuse them. And that’s where these great, amazing dog charities come in. They look after these poor animals, when they’ve had a tough time.

They love them, care for them, treat them, and help find them a loving home. Of course, you have to make sure the dog you get is the right dog for you… and that’s also where these superb dog charities/re-homing centres come in to their own. They know the dog’s behaviours, and will always make sure that if they’re coming home with you, it’s the right decision.

Dom’s decision to do the Tour De Rescue, and support local dog rescue charities, is just incredible. Make sure you support your own local charities, and if you’re thinking of getting a dog, think about re-homing one before just “getting a puppy!”. Read all about Dom’s Tour De Rescue here.

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