Essential pet advice with vet Jo Gourlay

It’s more than 30 years since the Dogs Trust first used the slogan: “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas.” But it seems its relevance today is just as important as it ever was. In this article we will look at some of the more ridiculous excuses reportedly used by people handing pets over to the charity.

The Dogs Trust looks after 16,000 dogs every year, with Christmas being an especially busy time for the charity. It deliberately closes the doors around Christmas to actively discourage dogs being given 
as gifts, and has to prepare itself for the influx of unwanted pets after the tinsel and trees come down.

For people who genuinely cannot look after their dog any more, taking them to find a better home can be a heart-wrenching but necessary step. Most of the dogs that are taken for rehoming have very understandable reasons such as a change in circumstances due to a relationship ending, financial difficulties or illness, but I was shocked by a number of the excuses people had come up with.

It seems that being a fashion accessory was high on some people’s agenda with “the dog doesn’t match the sofa” and “he wouldn’t fit in my handbag or wear the outfit I bought him” being quoted.

Other people perhaps had rather unrealistic expectations of what owing a dog entails with excuses such as “it smells of dog”, “it gets too excited on walks” and “the dog doesn’t like me” (after having the dog for 24 hours).

A few others that I found particularly disheartening were “it’s not as cute as it used to be”, “the dog gets too much attention” and “the dog was too old and no longer brought me any joy”.

You can only hope that these people had totally legitimate reasons for rehoming their pet and these excuses were just what were said when handing the dog over.

This story especially touches my heart as my rescue dog, who reached double figures this year, was likely to have been a Christmas puppy, abandoned a few weeks after Christmas. I found her at Easter, by which point she’d spent half her life in the kennels.

It took about six months for her stress levels to decrease enough that she stopped vomiting and drooling in the car (we used to joke about the footwell being an indoor swimming pool), destroying whatever she could find when left alone and her guts being healthy enough for her to be able to come off a specialised diet due to continual diarrhoea and lack of weight gain.

She still tries to live in my pocket on occasion but she was worth every minute of the clearing up as she has been the most loyal and loving dog I could have dreamed of.

So instead of getting a puppy for Christmas, if you have the time, money, energy and patience for a dog, why not give a rescue pooch a chance in the New Year instead?