New Zealand Dog News

Reviewing the dog news in New Zealand with editors comments. Someone needs to keep reviewing how our dogs are doing in society.

March 24, 2008

John Roughan: For the love of dogs, give them space to wander

(This is a great dog story...)

The dog was not my idea. My son must have been about 12 when he decided a dog was his heart's desire.

He'd had a collection of ceramic hounds for as long as I could remember but I thought if I nodded vaguely the stage would pass.

A year later he was still asking and had elicited the support of his little sister. I told them about the young collie I had as a boy in a Southland country schoolhouse, how it used to run between my legs and send me sprawling and how much it needed those wide open spaces.

When the family moved to a city my father said it would be no place for a dog. That was easy to accept; I didn't know how I would survive in a city, let alone my irrepressible pet.

It went untrained to an uncle's farm. It took a year or two for my parents to tell me it had worried sheep and Uncle Jim had shot it.

I don't know why I thought that story would convince my kids that fathers know best. They saw dogs in the city all the time.

Another year of Jared's intermittent yearning and he had his mother on side. She'd grown up with cats and had no idea how much attention a dog needs.

Desperate, I resorted to self-interest. "You know who is going to end up having to walk it every day." They wouldn't be dissuaded; they loved the idea of daily walks.

Defeated, I called the Humane Society and we set out to see a few of the pups in need of a new home. The first two were reasonably normal and placid, the third was a lively, bright-eyed mutt that claimed to be a labrador cross but looked nothing like one. Lean and leggy, he bore more resemblance to a small horse.

The owner was an elderly man who had gone to live with his daughter's family and while Dad was welcome, his dog wasn't.

Toby, as the old chap had named the colt-pup, was chained to a wire fence outside the daughter's bungalow and not liking it at all. The kids wanted to take him for a walk.

He bounded away as I knew he would, the three of them hanging on to his lead like anchors adrift. They could only follow where he wanted to go while I watched their excited panic and counted it salutary.

On the way home I started to compare the attributes of the two dogs that had not been too much of a handful when Jared announced he didn't want either, he wanted Toby.

The others were looking at me in surprise. They saw no contest, they all wanted Toby.

Thus I became, and always remained, a reluctant dog owner.

Dogs choose their owner in a household and sadly, as Jared was the first to observe, Toby chose me. He would follow me anywhere. I don't know why, I ignored him most of the time.

He lived with us at two houses, the first on the crater of a mangrove lagoon, the second adjoining a bush park. If there is any place for a dog in a city, he had it. MORE>>

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