Over the years my family and I have shared our house with quite a few pets (dogs, cats, budgies, cockatiels, tortoises, hamsters, gerbils, canaries, fish, a pigeon and a rat).
Animal-training in our household didn’t really exist in any mindful way. I remember one day we three siblings took our dog for a walk and let her off the lead under the false assumption that she would spend all her time joyfully playing with us. To our amazement she decided she’d rather run home to my dad, stopping for no one and crossing a busy main road along the way. We hadn’t taught her any recall skills and she barely acknowledged her own name – Julie (really?!)
Our cats were similarly “badly behaved”.
Our first family cat used to use all 4 corners of the living room as a toilet.
To deter this my mother would use the despicable and utterly ineffective method of “rubbing her nose in it”.
Adding to this catalogue of errors we allowed a budgie to fly out of the window, a horde of hamster pups escape into the floor boards and a rescued pigeon fly away before it was fully fit.
Yes we loved them all but was it enough? Could we have have made their lives better and our lives easier? Sure we could! All it would have taken was a little more knowledge and better management.
To redress my questionable history with animal husbandry I strove to make the lives of the animals I acquired as an adult as good as I could possibly make them. I raised two adorable cats, adopted a third, rescued two amazing Greyhounds and helped countless other dogs and cats through volunteering with the RSPCA and The Cinammon Trust. I put the dogs through their paces training them through the Kennel Club Good Citizen Scheme to gold standard and has lots of other fun with them using their noses and running around. I was able to let them run free with the wind in their faces because we had a great relationship.
So today I live with a rescue Sprollie (cross Border Collie and Springer Spaniel) who has finally learned to trust me and is now a much calmer beast. He’s not perfect by any means, but he’s just about perfect for me. We enjoy rally occasionally and have fun frolicking up and down the riverbank.
If you would like to rescue a cat or dog through our local (RSPCA Newcastle & North Northumberland branch) then please contact Louise, our amazing rehoming coordinator.