It is exactly a week, as I write this, since we picked up Bane (pictured above) from the pound. Seven days of getting to know this hairy, bounding bundle of love, that was so close to being put to sleep.
Yes it was only eight days ago when I saw the urgent appeal in my facebook timeline, a voluntary surrender, running out of time. The safety, the description beside his photo said, of this eighteen month old Rottweiler could only be guaranteed for a further twenty four hours. His time in the pound was running out; In essence, he was going to be put to sleep (pts) if no offer of a home was made.
The seed for my love of Rottweilers, as a breed, was planted while in transition year in school. As with any animal loving teenager worth her salt, I volunteered to work every Wednesday at my local vets and spent a week at the National Veterinary Hospital, in Ballsbridge, Dublin.
Both places had resident Rottweilers that bowled me over with their gentle obedience and their robust, bear like appearance. Since then, I’ve always been on the lookout for one to re-home, if ever our paths crossed.
So here was fate, on my timeline, how could I refuse?
Wednesday 8th October 2014-Day One
I ring the dog pound. I find out the dog was a voluntary surrender from a family (good sign, he’s used to kids and the family thought enough of him to surrender him rather then let him suffer). Perfect, I say to the man at the end of the phone, I’m on my way.
The sign on the cage says don’t put fingers through the bars; I do, he licks them (good sign, though I don’t recommend you try it at the zoo).
On the way home from the pound we call into our vet. Bane is given the all clear following a booster (he was previously vaccinated, good sign) treatment for internal and external parasites (kinda bad sign) and advice on feeding him up. When you run your fingers over his back you can feel every disc in his spine (pretty bad sign). We weigh him, he’s 34kg, he should realistically be heading towards a mature weight of 50kg – 60kg.
When we get home I bring him into the house. He cocks his leg in the kitchen and pees. I realise now I’ve no idea if he’s ever been in a house before. I put him outside into his own dog run. We have rescue dogs already. The dog run is worth it’s weight in gold.
Temperament-wise, he is shockingly obedient and gentle. He licks my hands at every opportunity. I bring him out for at least three walks during the day on the lead, building up the distance over the week.
For the first day we keep him separate from the other dogs for two reasons;
1. I want him to bond to me first. I also want the opportunity to assess his nature and level of obedience. Although a year and a half old, he reminds me of a puppy, everything’s new to him. Rottweilers, as breed, can mature later than other types of dogs.
2. The new dog is coming to an existing pack with each dog holding a different rank. I want the process of assimilation into the pack to be as trouble free as possible, so for the first day it is enough that the dogs can see and smell him, and get used to the new dogs presence in controlled stages.
There is always a chance of conflict when a new dog enters a pack. He or she needs to find their ranking in the pack. To us humans it can look like jealousy. But in my experience, with careful management and knowing your dog’s temperaments, you can avoid ugly situations. I made a special effort to walk the dogs separate, making a fuss of the existing dogs.They still got their walks and their food, so to them the newcomer no longer was a threat.
One Week On
I’m delighted how our rescue settled in and now walk the dogs together. He’ll be going back to the vet’s next week to check his weight, but already he’s glowing with health and vitality.
I would love to tell you that all rescue dogs settle in so well and have no baggage except for a couple of parasites, but I can only speak from my own personal experience. But I can tell you that if you are prepared, well-informed and willingly to re-home an animal, you will see that you can’t buy love, but you can rescue it.