Adopting A Stray Dog. The stresses and rewards of taking home an abandoned dog.
Adopting A Stray Dog
I haven’t written for some time, as life has been changing rapidly and sometimes it’s hard to keep up. One of the biggest changes has been adapting to my new family, a 12 month(ish) old stray dog who is now called Charlie.
In November 2017 I was coming to terms with the end of my marriage and all the emotional and practical turmoil that such a things creates. I have two cats already who I love to pieces, and had never considered adding to the family. Life at home was requiring some major adjustments, I’d been with my ex-wife for the best part of ten years so everything was up in the air and unsettled.
An Abandoned Dog
My Mum and Dad came over from England to visit and keep me company. We decided to take a day trip to the beautiful mountain town of Ronda. On the way back we stopped at a viewing point to take photos of the mountains shrouded in clouds. As soon as the car door opened a dirty but friendly dog tried to jump in.
I walked around to see if I could find anyone who owned him or anywhere he may have come from. This mountain road was remote, there were certainly no houses nearby. Then I found a few dirty blankets by a bin where the dog had obviously been sleeping.
Of course I couldn’t leave him there, so I phoned by friend Carl who volunteers at a dog rescue centre in Fuengirola. Carl asked me to take the dog to a vet to check for a chip which I should probably have thought of myself.
The dog, who we briefly named Benji for the journey, jumped into the back of the car and fell asleep with his head on my Mum’s knee. He was instantly comfortable with us, very friendly, and content to have company. The vet checked him over and said he had probably been abandoned, but his general health wasn’t too bad. The dog was thin and slightly dehydrated but nothing serious.
I spoke with Carl again at FAMA and he said that they would take the dog the next day. Benji spent that night at the holiday apartment Mum and Dad were staying in, as I didn’t think my cats would take well to a canine house guest.
FAMA Dog Rescue
By this point, we were already growing attached to him. Common sense must prevail however, and taking on a huge commitment like a dog was not a good idea considering my personal circumstances at the time. Benji did well overnight with Mum and Dad, and the next day we took him to meet Carl and the vet to have his man sprouts removed and some injections. Carl then took him away to the rescue centre.
Despite my better judgement, I was already considering keeping him. I think I felt responsible for him because we’d found him, and I worried he may not be re-homed quickly because of his size. The cats are my first priority though. Mow is almost twelve and Enzo is two. It would have been unfair to disrupt their lives with a new dog if they couldn’t adjust to him.
Carl suggested taking Benji home for an hour a day, to see how he got on with the cats. This seemed like a good idea. If it didn’t work out, he could stay at the rescue centre until a home could be found. Pat, Carl, Terry, Bob, Anita, Barbara, and Jennie were all so incredibly kind and helped me with food bowls and leads and advice.
It was time to name the hound. I wasn’t feeling Benji. I tried Worf because I thought that was hilarious, he didn’t suit Worf. We also tried Ron because we found him in Ronda. When I took him to the vet for another injection she said he was a cheeky Charlie, possibly meaning cheeky chappie, but Charlie worked and this is now his name.
We didn’t know anything about his history, his temperament seemed friendly and affectionate, he had huge paws. The vet suggested he was a cross between a Podenco which is a Spanish hunting breed, and a Staffy. She said he may have been bred for fighting or hunting, but dumped because he clearly has none of those instincts.
The first meeting with the cats went smoothly. Mow ignored him. Enzo kept out of the way. Charlie bounced around the house like he’d always lived there. I took him back to the rescue centre and missed him right away. Over the next week he came to the house for an hour a day, and came to work with me a few times. Things seemed to be working out, I was about to become a dog owner.
Utter Domestic Chaos
Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come. Three weeks of sleepless nights, domestic chaos, animal wars. I had no idea. Once Charlie moved in, Enzo decided it was battle stations and attacked the poor dog whenever he could. Charlie would then chase Enzo thinking that it’s play time. Howling, hissing, barking. It was never ending.
Then there was the house training. This dog is 90% bladder. I’ve never known any animal create so much wee. I spent most of my time mopping floors, over and over and over, it never stopped.
The Internet Can Surely Help
So where could I go for help? The internet! I read articles on house training, recall, stopping the dog chasing the cat, stopping the cat from trying to kill the dog, stopping the dog from chewing my arms and legs. These articles were contradictory though, everyone seemed to have different ways of doing things and none of them were working for my dog. There were so many times when I wondered what on earth I’d been thinking when I took him on.
But despite his lack of domestication, my lack of sleep, and the endless mopping, I thought he was adorable. He never left my side. He came to work with me. In the car. To the park. Long walks. He was affectionate and playful, and flatulent but that’s another story.
Call In The Professionals
I decided it was time to call in the professionals, and contacted Mandy at In The Doghouse. She came to the house for a few hours and really got to know Charlie and our routine. Once she had an insight into his personality, she came up with training ideas and suggestions, all of which have worked magnificently. I won’t go into what they are, because as I found with the internet advice it seems that every dog is different and what worked for mine may not work for yours.
Within a few days, Charlie was house trained, the animal wars had calmed down (though not completely stopped), he comes when his name is called, sits on command, goes to bed when told, and lots of other things dogs are supposed to do. I’ve also been taking him to group classes with Mandy where he’s been learning about all sorts of other good behaviours.
A Bigger Family
So after all this, three months later I still have two cats and now a dog who I love to bits. He’s still learning, and still growing. He’s entertaining, loyal, great fun, and good company.
I also think the vet was mistaken about his breed, as he could be 50% kangaroo. He likes to bounce around the house. It’s been a huge adjustment bringing Charlie into my life, and there really were times when I thought I couldn’t handle it, but I’m glad that I did.
Adopting A Rescue Dog
If you’re thinking about adopting a dog, go into it with your eyes open. Know that it will be tough, very tough in the early days but with the right guidance and training things do get better and it’s absolutely worth it.
If you live on the Costa Del Sol, please talk to the guys at FAMA. They have some beautiful animals in need of new homes.