Sambor – known as Sam – is originally from Poland, but he’s lived in Ireland for thirteen years now. He originally trained as a fork lift truck driver, but he had always had an interest in dogs, keeping them, training them and enjoying their company. Four years ago he decided to turn his hobby into a full time job: he set up a dog daycare facility in Bray, known as Happy Irish Dogs. The business tapped into the increasing desire of dog owners to have their pets cared for while they are at work. Not only is Sambor kept busy, but he now employs four people to help him care for and train around forty dogs every day.
Sam has four dogs himself – all German Shepherds – and he has a particular interest in large, muscular dogs of this type, as well as dogs like Bull Terriers. He knows that despite their reputation, most of the dogs of these breeds are gentle, good-natured animals. As part of his service, he helps to train the dogs that spend time in his daycare facility. Time and time again, he has seen “badly behaved” animals respond well to simple, consistent, kind training.
Sam gets upset when he sees dogs – and especially his favourite breeds – being mistreated and badly handled. He works with different animal rescue groups, helping out when he can if there’s an animal in need.
This past month – in the four weeks since Christmas – have been particularly busy on the animal rescue front. Sam has been involved in the rescue of six dogs over this time, and every week there seems to be another animal in trouble. Sam reckons there are two broad groups of animals involved.
The first group of abandoned animals are puppies: some people gave them as pets for Christmas, and it soon became very obvious that the recipients of the gifts didn’t want them. Puppies can be hard work, needing to be fed, watered, exercised and house trained. Some people just decided that they didn’t want the puppies any more, and they either set them loose in the streets or they dumped them in the local dog pound.
The second group of abandoned animals are long-standing pets who were turfed out around Christmas for no other reason than that their owners had decided that they were a bit of a nuisance. They didn’t want to take their pets for walks and they didn’t want to pay for their food or veterinary costs, so again, they either let them loose on the streets to fend for themselves, or in some cases, they took them up to the dog pound to surrender them.
The end result for both groups of animals – the puppies and the adults – has been that the animals have found themselves without a home, and under threat of euthanasia at the dog pound because nobody wanted them.
Staffy is an example of one of those dogs: she’s around three years of age, and she must have originally been someone’s pet. She was found straying the streets and brought to the dog pound in Mullingar. After she’d been kept there for five days, she became the property of the local authority, as is always the case with dogs that are taken to the pound. A few decades ago, dogs like Staffy would nearly always have been euthanased after the five day waiting period. These days, most local authority dog pounds have good relationships with dog rescue groups, and when possible, unclaimed dogs like Staffy are taken on by volunteers from rescue groups who then find new homes for them.
Staffy was collected from the pound by Dublin Husky Rescue, and Sam has agreed to foster her on their behalf. His plan is to get her settled first, then eventually to find a good long term home for her. Sam brought her to me to get her vaccinated, microchipped and treated for parasites.
The fostering system works well: it can work well for some unowned dogs to be kept in people’s homes rather than in rescue centre kennels, and it can take the pressure off the resources of the rescue group. Staffy has settled well in Sam’s home, and he has learned a lot about her personality, her likes and dislikes, and her level of energy. This knowledge will make it easier for him to find the ideal home for her.
For example, Sam now knows for sure that Staffy is a lovely gentle dog who likes people. She has been through a lot in her lifetime, and she has some scars that tell a story. In particular, she has a long healed wound in the midline on her underside, indicating that at some stage she underwent major abdominal surgery. It’s likely that she was used for breeding and this scar suggests that she may have had a Caesarian section. Sam doesn’t know if she has been spayed yet, and if she comes into season, he’ll have to get that done too. Staffy has been through enough in her short life, and he’ll make sure that she doesn’t go through the trauma of having more pups in the future.
There are hundreds more dogs like Staffy around the country, abandoned and now looking for new homes. If you’re thinking of getting a dog, there’s no need to spend money on buying a pedigree puppy. Contact your local dog rescue group and choose a dog like Staffy: you’ll be giving an innocent dog a much-needed new start in life.