Dogs, Johannesburg, pet rescue, Pets

Pound Hound: On Adopting a Dog in South Africa

Mr Incredible has always been keen to have a dog, so, off and on since we’ve been here we have popped to the pound to ‘browse’.  Sweetpea was desperate each time to adopt on the spot and Pickle was keen to adopt…well all of them.  Me?  I was mostly a little bit lukewarm, realising that ‘us’ acquiring a dog actually translated to a glittering new portfolio of responsibilities (walking/feeding/poop scooping etc.) for ME during the week.

With her manipulative big brown eyes and very affectionate nature I’m pretty sure The Cheese Thief chose us.  Still apprehensive about taking on a dog, I was cajoled by the nice lady at the pound who explained that if we fostered The Cheese Thief for two weeks they would loan us all the essentials – food, a lead, a blanket and so forth and if it didn’t work out we had a no quibbles return clause.

It sounded like an ideal solution.  However, with hindsight I was clearly duped into thinking that I had some sort of choice in the matter, as the ‘nice’ lady and my husband both knew full well that once the dog was home, should I wish to enforce the returns policy, I would forever more be the heartless dog-hating-ice-queen who made her children cry….

Happily, The Cheese Thief came fully housetrained and has fitted in well with us.  Pickle has deemed her a perfect scapegoat if there are any bottom noises at the table and I now have the perfect excuse to walk around the estate and discreetly gawk into peoples back gardens.

I’ve already made one new friend – we bonded as our dogs sniffed each others’ bottoms by the side of the road.  I also had a decidedly odd moment where a car with darkened windows approached and crawled along the kerb beside us.  I tried to ignore it and then feeling uncomfortable turned and smiled at a tiny woman (rather than the seedy man that I had been imagining) driving and asked whether she was lost.  She giggled and said she was just letting her precious enjoy the view – this is when I noticed a tiny pair of canine eyes peering out from the passenger seat.  Very very odd!

Mid-fostering we had a brief loose-poo situation (yes, it fell under the umbrella of ‘glittering new responsibilities’ and yes, I was thinking maybe this whole adoption lark had been a terrible idea).  It turns out, it was was my fault.  I hadn’t realised that giving The Cheese Thief (now getting fed up of typing The Cheese Thief, for the rest of the post I’m shortening it to TCT) tins of dog food, constituted a major change in diet – wet rather than dry food.

TCT previously had a human family, but when they found out she was expecting a litter, they carted her straight off to the pound on Christmas Eve – oh the shame of teenage pregnancy!  Like TCT, many of the dogs at South African Rescue Centres are crossbreed mutts fondly referred to as Township Specials.

However, the ones that come in as strays have no history and you might get an unpleasant surprise.  One of our neighbours adopted such a dog only to find it fitting and foaming at the mouth a couple of days later.  Her first thought was RABIES so she bundled it straight off to the vet in a flat panic but the dog just had an undiagnosed heart condition and died.

South Africans are pretty dotty about dogs.  Ownership ratios are high and pet businesses abound: Walking, grooming, dog sitting, doggy day care and the OTT ‘Must Love Dogs’ huts, fully furnished complete with climate control are all widely available.  I nearly drove my car off the road when I saw a van one day with “DOGGY STYLE” emblazoned across the side and then noticed in smaller letters underneath…”pet grooming service”

Here, attitudes to certain breeds, such as rottweilers and pitbulls, are far more relaxed that those in the UK, the consensus being that how you train the dogs is the overriding factor.  Pitbulls are affectionately referred to as nanny dogs and considered to be ideal dogs for families, rather than dangerous.  Our two were hand feeding and high-fiving a pet pitbull at the pound!!.

Pound hound adopt a dog in Johannesburg.

…..”When you adopt your next dog” were the parting words of the nice (duplicitous) lady at the pound….. So, now that we are all settled with a dog, my husband, always one to push boundaries, is already trying to butter me up about getting another…

If you are in Johannesburg or moving here and are thinking about getting a dog, there are many animal shelters.  

We adopted our dog from the Ark Animal Centre in Northern Johannesburg: The woman who runs is is passionate about all dogs and is very good at matching you with the right dog in terms of age, temperament and energy levels.  

 March 2014

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